Australia, highly radioactive capsule lost en route: relentless hunt

Australia, highly radioactive capsule lost en route: relentless hunt

In addition to Australia’s possible risk of nuclear war, a potentially explosive situation arises. A mining company actually apologized for losing a highly radioactive capsule over a 1,400km stretch in the western part of the country, as authorities combed stretches of road for the small but dangerous substance. The capsule was part of a device that reportedly fell out of a truck while being transported between a deserted location and Perth on January 10.

Western Australia emergency services have asked other Australian states and the federal government for help in finding the capsule as they do not have the appropriate equipment. The capsule measures 8 millimeters by 6 millimeters and people have been warned that it may have inadvertently gotten stuck in their car’s tires. The Cesium 137 ceramic source, commonly used in radiation meters, emits dangerous amounts of radiation, equivalent to 10 X-rays in an hour. May cause skin burns and prolonged exposure may cause cancer.

The chief executive of mining giant Rio Tinto Iron Ore, Simon Trott, said on Sunday that the company was taking the incident very seriously and apologized for causing public concern: “We recognize that the situation is clearly very concerning and we regret the alarm that caused in the Western Australian community. As well as fully supporting the relevant authorities, we have launched our own investigation into how the capsule was lost in transit.” Trott further stated that the contractor was qualified to transport the radioactive device and that a Geiger counter had confirmed the presence of the device on board the truck before leaving the mine. But fears remain high.

Source: IL Tempo