Missing radioactive capsule found in Australia
A tiny radioactive capsule, which went missing in Australia last week, has been found.
Emergency services had “literally found a needle in a haystack,” authorities said after a huge search was triggered after the object was lost while being transported along an 870-mile route across the state.
Rio Tinto – a mining giant – apologised for losing the device, which could have posed a serious danger if handled.
The capsule is only 6mm in diameter and 8mm long. It contains a small quantity of Caesium-137, which could cause skin damage, burns or radiation sickness.
Emergency services used specialist equipment during the hunt.
The device was being used at a mine in the remote Kimberly region. Rio Tinto had earlier promised to launch an investigation into what had happened.
The search for the lost capsule was huge. It was thought that the capsule may have gone missing up to two weeks ago.
The device is part of a density gauge, which was being transported by a subcontracted company, which picked it up from the mine site to move it to a storage facility.
When it was unpacked for inspection on 25 January the gauge was found broken apart and the radioactive capsule was gone. One of four mounting bolts and screws was also missing.
Authorities said vibrations during transit may have caused the bolts to become loose, allowing the capsule to fall through gaps in the casing and truck.