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Relief and miracle in Australia: they find a tiny lost radioactive capsule


"Search teams have literally found the needle in the haystack," authorities said. It measures 6mm in diameter.

The Australian authorities reported this Wednesday that they

have recovered

the tiny radioactive capsule


by the Rio Tinto mining company in a vast and complicated search for this material that can be fatal.

"I want to emphasize that this is an extraordinary result (...) The search teams have literally

found the needle in the haystack

," the head of Emergency Services in the state of Western Australia, Stephen Dawson, told a press conference.

The representative of the regional government specified that the device,

6 millimeters in diameter and 8 millimeters high

, was found this Wednesday morning

about 50 kilometers south of the city of Newman

, where a truck picked it up days ago to transport it to the city ​​of Perth, a route of about 1,400 kilometers - a distance longer than the length of Great Britain.

The capsule is 6 millimeters in diameter and 8 in height.

Photo: Reuters

The small capsule

was found among stones

in the ditch about two meters away from the Great Northern Highway, where a car

equipped with special devices


radiation detection

- traveling on the road at about 70 kilometers per hour - discovered the radiation. emitted by the capsule.

The teams established a

security perimeter of 20 meters around the object

to proceed "safely" to its recovery and it was

placed in a lead container,

which protects from radiation.

The capsule was sent back to Newman, where it will be stored until Thursday when it is moved to a center in Perth, the capital of Western Australia.

The small capsule was found between stones in the ditch about two meters away from the Great Northern Highway.

Photo: AFP

They survey the area

Members of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization (ANSTO) examine the area where the capsule was found to "make sure it is not contaminated" due to the risk of radiation leaking out.

The tiny capsule contains a "small amount" of the radioactive substance


, used in mining, and was lost while being transported between January 10 and 16, the Western Australia Department of Health previously explained.

Authorities are examining the area where the capsule was found to "make sure it is not contaminated."

Photo: AFP

burns and diseases

Authorities warned, in a previous alert,

about the risks of exposure to this toxic substance

, which include "radiation burns or radiation sickness," such as cancer.

Although this Wednesday they assured that it

is "improbable"

that someone has been exposed to radiation because it was

far enough from the road

and from any population.

"It doesn't appear to have been moved, but rather

fell from the truck

," Andrew Robertson, director general of the Western Australia Office of Health, told the media.

Fire personnel, during the search for the capsule.

Photo: Reuters

The toxic material was packaged on January 10 and the vehicle arrived in Perth six days later, but

it was not until the 25th

that cargo inspectors realized that one of the packages

was torn and one of those tiny letters capsules had been lost

on the way.

The radioactive device is part of a density gauge that had been used at Rio Tinto's Gudai-Darri mine in the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia.

The Western Australia Radiation Council has opened an investigation to determine how the radioactive capsule could have been lost, although it has not specified when it will publish its final report.


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All news articles on 2023-02-01

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