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Wednesday May 22, 2024

Relief as Australia finds lost radioactive capsule

A tiny but dangerously radioactive capsule fell off a truck along a remote stretch of desert highway in Western Australia last month

By AFP
February 01, 2023
A tiny but dangerously radioactive capsule fell off a truck along a remote stretch of desert highway in Western Australia last month.— Screengrab via The Guardian
A tiny but dangerously radioactive capsule fell off a truck along a remote stretch of desert highway in Western Australia last month.— Screengrab via The Guardian 

A tiny but dangerously radioactive capsule, which fell off a truck along a remote stretch of desert highway in Western Australia last month, was found on Wednesday, authorities said.

"It's a good result, as I've said it's certainly a needle in a haystack that has been found, and I think West Australians can sleep better tonight," West Australian emergency services minister Stephen Dawson told reporters.

Authorities scoured hundreds of kilometres of highway in search of the tiny capsule.

It was discovered at the side of a desert highway just south of the town of Newman — near the Outback mine it was transported from, the state's emergency services commissioner Darren Klemm said.

The six-day hunt came to an end after a search vehicle detected radiation while travelling along the highway, with authorities now working to safely remove the capsule before taking it to a secure location, Klemm said.

The solid, silver-coloured cylinder is smaller than a human fingernail — just eight millimetres by six millimetres — but the authorities say it contains enough Caesium-137 to cause acute radiation sickness.

It disappeared from a truck that drove to the suburbs of Perth from a remote mine 1,400 kilometres (870 miles) north of the state capital — farther than the distance from Paris to Madrid.