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WA: Radiation scare as small capsule lost on road between Perth and Newman

Authorities in Western Australia continue to search for a small capsule containing radioactive material that has been lost for up to 18 days somewhere on 1,000km of road.

The capsule, which could fit in a 10-cent piece, came loose in early January during transit north of Newman’s Pilbara mining town to the Perth suburb of Málaga.

Officials said it was unclear when the capsule went missing, but it could have been between January 10 and January 16.

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These dates indicate a possible 18 days lost on major roads.

A radioactive capsule is smaller than a dime. Photo: DFES
A radioactive capsule is smaller than a dime. Photo: DFES

Small round silver capsules, 6 mm in diameter and 8 mm high, are used within gauges in mining operations and contain small amounts of radioactive Cesium-137.

But Chief Health Officer Andrew Robertson said despite its size, the capsule contained a “substantial dose of radiation.”

A Rio Tinto spokesperson confirmed that the lost capture was lost by a professional radioactive material handler.

The contractor reported the missing on Wednesday.

Rio Tinto is working with the Radiation Council, contractors and emergency services to assist in the search.

The state’s Fire and Emergency Services Agency and Dr. Robertson provided an update on the search Saturday afternoon.

“You’re getting about 10 x-rays an hour, the amount of natural radiation you get in a year just from walking around,” says Dr. Robertson.

The capsule could be anywhere between the Guday Dali airfield and the Perth suburb of Malaga.Photo: Google Maps
The capsule could be anywhere between the Guday Dali airfield and the Perth suburb of Malaga.Photo: Google Maps

Emergency services are looking for radioactive material. Photo: DFES
Emergency services are looking for radioactive material. Photo: DFES

He warned people not to pick it up, saying more serious health conditions, including cancer, could result from long-term exposure.

DFES acting director Darryl Ray told reporters on Saturday that firefighters used GPS data from the truck used to transport the capsule to pinpoint where it may have fallen from the vehicle. Said he’d find

“What we’re not doing is trying to find a tiny little device with the naked eye,” said Ray, who said the device would be able to detect radiation from the capsule within 20 meters.

Acting director Ray also explained the capsule’s movement in detail before realizing it was missing.

It was loaded on a pallet at Rio Tinto’s Gudai-Darri mine site on January 10, and the pallet was loaded into the rear of a semi-trailer and departed for Perth on January 11-14.

He arrived at a radiation service company in the northern suburbs of Málaga on January 16, but didn’t realize the capsules were missing until the pallet was unpacked on Wednesday, when the alarm was raised.

DFES said exposure to the substance could result in radiation burns or radiation sickness, although the risk to the community is relatively low.

“People can develop skin redness and eventually beta ray burns. More serious effects may occur.

It is believed that the capsule may be on the side of the Great Northern Highway between Perth and Newman, but drivers traveling that route after 10 January may have the capsule stuck in their tires. I have been asked to check the tires because there is.

If you see a possible capsule, stay at least 5 meters away, do not pick it up or pick it up, and call DFES immediately at 13 DFES (13 33 37).

Seek medical attention if you think you may come into contact with the substance.

DFES is managing the case with the assistance of the Ministry of Health and WA Police.

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https://www.theaustralian.com.au/breaking-news/dangerous-radioactive-capsule-lost-in-transit-along-country-highway/news-story/715be2c7c0d651ef89c1b545c48043b2 WA: Radiation scare as small capsule lost on road between Perth and Newman

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