Radioactive capsule lost in Australia, authorities issue warning

(ORDO NEWS) — Western Australian authorities have warned the public that a radioactive capsule used as a sensor in mining operations has been lost along a stretch of road about 1,400 kilometers long.

The risk to the public is considered minimal, but people should be warned about what to do if they see this.

The sensor has a size of 8 millimeters by 6 millimeters. She was transported from the city of Newman to the northeastern suburbs of Perth.

Prolonged exposure to it can cause burns or radiation sickness, and if anyone finds it, they should alert the authorities immediately. The concern is that the small capsule could get stuck in the wheel of a passing car.

The capsule was taken to Perth for repairs on 10 January and arrived there on 16 January and was placed in a secure radiation storage facility.

The package was then opened on January 25, and that’s when the package was found to be broken; one bolt was missing, and the capsule and all of its screws probably fell out of this hole and may have been lost on the road between Newman and Perth.

Nuclear densitometry is used not only for mining, but also in archeology and civil engineering. It is not clear which radioactive element was used in this sensor.

Western Australian government guidance on these subjects mentions cobalt-60 and caesium-137. The isotope radium-226 is also used for this purpose, since it can be used at depths up to 300 meters.

Radium-226 emits primarily alpha particles, but its decay products can also emit beta particles and gamma rays. Despite the danger, none of these elements can be used as a weapon.


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