“Radioactive capsule scattered on the highway”

Rio Tinto company admitted it lost a radioactive capsule that may have fallen from a truck on the Australian highway. Radiation fears have grown in much of the state of Western Australia, as it is unclear where and how the radioactive capsule, part of an indicator used to measure the density of iron ore at Rio’s Gudai-Darri mining site, fell on January 12. .

When the gauge was unpacked for inspection on January 25, the gauge was found with one of its four mounting bolts missing and broken. Authorities suspect vibrations from the truck caused the screws and bolts to loosen, and the radioactive indicator capsule fell from the package and then through a crack in the truck.

Authorities now grapple with the daunting task of searching the truck’s 1,400km journey from the small town of Newman north of the remote Kimberley region to a warehouse in the northeastern suburbs of Perth, a distance longer than Great Britain. .


Simon Trott, head of Rio’s Iron Ore division, said in a statement: “We take this incident very seriously. We recognize that this is clearly very worrying and we are sorry for the alarm it has created in the Western Australian community.”

The 6 mm diameter and 8 mm long silver capsule contains Cesium-137, which emits radiation equal to 10 X-rays per hour. Officials recommended that people stay at least five meters apart from each other, although they added that the risk to the wider community is relatively low, as exposure can cause radiation burns or radiation sickness.

The State Department of Emergency Services set up a risk management team and brought in specialized equipment, including portable radiation meters, to detect radiation levels within a 20-metre radius that could be used by vehicles in motion.

Andrew Stuchbery, head of the department of nuclear physics and accelerator applications at the Australian National University, said that although the task was similar to finding the famous needle in a haystack, it was not ‘impossible’ as the researchers were equipped with radiation detectors. The incident following the destruction of two ancient and sacred rock shelters in 2020 while mining iron ore in Western Australia’s Pilbara region is another headache for the mining giant.


Source: Today IT