The missing radioactive capsule has been found in western Australia. Photos/BBC
CANBERRA – Australian authorities have recovered a radioactive capsule that fell from a truck while on the 870-mile highway through Western Australia last month.
The capsule – 6mm in diameter and 8mm long – was found south of the mining town of Newman on the Great Northern Highway. The capsule was detected by search vehicles when specialist equipment picked up radiation emitted from the capsule. The capsule was about six feet from the side of the road.
“This is an amazing result… they really found a needle in a haystack,” said Emergency Services Minister Stephen Dawson.
Western Australia’s state emergency services said the capsule no longer posed a risk to the public.
“Radioactive material in parts of the Pilbara, Midwest Gascoyne, Goldfields-Midlands and the Perth Metropolitan area is now contained and controlled as the substance has been recovered and contained,” emergency services said in a warning.
The capsule contains cesium-137, which is used in radiation measurement devices and emits a dangerous amount of radiation equivalent to receiving 10 X-rays in one hour.
The capsule was misplaced in transit at several points on a journey that is longer than the length of the United Kingdom earlier this month, prompting officials to issue a widespread radiation warning for large parts of Western Australia.
Read: Australia is in an uproar, Radioactive Capsules Disappear on the Streets
Officials said the capsule was packed on January 10 and sent to Perth for repairs before leaving the site for transport by road on January 12.
Officials say the small capsules pose a risk of burning the skin and prolonged exposure can cause cancer. Chief health officer Andy Robertson said the capsule appeared to be stationary and no injuries had been reported.
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