Emergency Warning Issued as Radioactive Capsule Goes Missing in Australia

A major public health alert has been issued in Australia on Friday after a radioactive capsule apparently fell out of a truck while in transit.

The tiny radiometer—less than a penny—was shipped from a mining site in the remote Pilbara region of northern Western Australia to a warehouse in Perth some 870 miles away.

At an emergency news conference Friday, the state’s chief medical officer, Andy Robertson, said authorities believe the capsule fell out of the truck after vibrations on the cruise caused a latch in the vehicle to malfunction. loose, causing the capsule to fall out of the latch. pit.

“Our concern is that someone will pick it up without knowing what it is,” said Robertson, adding that hazardous materials experts are currently searching for the lost capsule. “They might think it’s something interesting and keep it, or keep it in their room, keep it in their car, or give it to someone. We obviously feel that it’s important that we warn the community that if they come across this source, they need to be extra careful.”

Although radiometers are commonly used in mining, they can pose serious health risks to humans depending on how long a person is exposed to their radiation. Robertson said the capsule emits a “reasonable” amount of radiation equivalent to someone getting 10 x-rays in an hour if they get within 3 feet of it.

“One of the long-term risks of exposure to a source like this is cancer,” says Robertson.

“As a source, it emits both beta and gamma rays. So if you touch it or leave it near you, you could experience skin damage, including skin burns, over a period of time. If you leave it near you long enough, it can cause what’s called acute radiation sickness.”

“We are advising people not to be near it or cling to it.”

Emergency services were alerted to the lost capsule on Wednesday and any driver who has traveled along Australia’s Great Northern Highway since January 10 has been asked to have their tyres checked. to make sure the capsule does not get stuck in the groove.

In humble words, Northern Fire and National Emergency Services Director David Gill admitted that finding such a small capsule over such a large area would present “challenges”. .


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