Australian authorities are searching for a missing radioactive capsule
A radioactive capsule used in mining was lost en route to Perth, the state’s capital, prompting a radiation alert in parts of Western Australia on Saturday. Reuters reported that authorities in Australia’s largest state issued an alert on Friday concerning a “radioactive substance risk” in several regions, including Perth.
During transport from north of Newman, a small town in the remote Kimberley region, to the northeast suburbs of Perth, a small silver capsule containing Caesium-137 was lost. This substance is used in mining gauges. Exposure to this substance could cause radiation burns or radiation sickness.
During the transport of the capsule from a mine to a Perth storage facility, the capsule went missing, the state’s health agency said. Newman is located approximately 1,200 kilometers northeast of Perth. The truck left the site on January 12, but the capsule was not discovered missing until this week, when emergency services were notified.
According to reports, the capsule came from a Rio Tinto Ltd mine. A request for comment was not immediately responded to by the company. According to Western Australia’s chief health officer, Andrew Robertson, the capsule could cause skin redness and radiation burns, if it is kept close to the body.
“It is possible that it could have some more acute effects, including impacts on the immune system, if it is kept long enough and exposed long enough,” he told reporters. He explained that the vibration of the truck may have caused the gauge to fall apart and the item to then come out of it.