SYDNEY, Feb 1 (Reuters) – Australian authorities on Wednesday found a radioactive capsule lost in the vast outdoors after a nearly week-long search along a 1,400 km (870 mile) stretch of highway, an emergency services official said.
The military is inspecting the capsule and it will be taken to a secure facility in Perth on Thursday, Emergency Services Minister Stephen Dawson told a news conference.
“When you consider the scope of the research area, finding this material was a huge challenge, search teams have found a needle in a haystack,” Dawson said.
The radioactive capsule is part of a scale used to measure the density of Rio Tinto’s iron ore feed. (RIO.AX) Kudai-Dari mine in the remote Kimberley region of the state. The ore was transported to a facility on the outskirts of Perth – a distance longer than the length of Great Britain.
Western Australia’s emergency response officials, security officials, radiation experts and others are combing a stretch of highway for the small capsule that was lost in traffic two weeks ago. read more
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Officials said the capsule fell off the truck and landed on the side of the road.
The area is unlikely to be contaminated.
The silver capsule, 6 mm in diameter and 8 mm long, contains cesium-137, which emits radiation equivalent to 10 X-rays per hour.
People were told to stay at least five meters (16.5 feet) away from the capsule if they saw it because radiation could cause burns or radiation sickness, although driving past it was believed to be a relatively low risk, similar to taking X-rays. Ray
Statement by Lewis Jackson; Written by Praveen Menon; Editing by Christopher Cushing
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