Disasters & Accidents

Australia finds missing radioactive capsule

Sydney, Australia, Feb 1 (EFE).- Australian authorities reported Wednesday that they had found the tiny radioactive capsule that went missing from a Rio Tinto mine, after an extensive and complicated search for the material that could have proved deadly.

“I do want to emphasize this is an extraordinary result (…) The search crews have quite literally found the needle in the haystack,” Western Australia Emergency Services Minister Stephen Dawson said during a press conference, state broadcaster ABC reported.

Dawson further added that the capsule, measuring 6 mm in diameter and 8 mm in height, was found Wednesday morning about 50 kilometers (around 31 miles) south of the town of Newman.

A truck had collected the capsule in Newman a few days ago in order to transport it to the city of Perth, about 1,400 kilometers (about 870 miles) away: a distance longer than the length of Great Britain.

The capsule was packaged on Jan 10 and the vehicle carrying it reached Perth six days later. However, it was not until Jan 25 that the cargo inspectors realized that one of the packages was broken and one of the minute capsules had been lost in transit.

WA Department of Health previously stated that the tiny capsule contains a small quantity of the radioactive substance caesium-137 and was lost during transportation between Jan 10 and 16.

Moreover, in a prior alert, authorities warned citizens about the risks of exposure to the toxic substance, which included “radiation burns or radiation sickness,” like cancer.

Australian authorities said on their social media that the capsule has been “safely recovered” and will be transported in a lead container to Newman, where it will be stored until Thursday, before being transported to a facility in Perth, WA’s capital. EFE


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