The Australian Nuclear Safety Agency (ASPANSA) has indicated that it is joining the search for the small lost radioactive capsule by the Rio Tinto mining company in the vast state of Western Australia.
ARPANSA has revealed in a statement that from today “a team with portable detection instruments and mounted on specialized cars to support the search” is collaborating in the tasks is centered between the Pilbara regionwhere Río Tinto operates more than a dozen mines, and the city of Perth, a route of about 1,400 kilometers – a distance longer than the length of Great Britain.
The tiny capsule, six millimeters in diameter and eight in height, contains a “small amount” of the radioactive substance Cesium-137, used in mining, and was lost while being transported by truck between January 10 and 16, the Western Australia Department of Health said on Friday.
ARPANSA, the Australian Government’s main authority on radiation protection and nuclear safety, explained that its support for the operation is part of “the national emergency response and radiation protection capacity” and is intended to “protect the community from the harmful effects of radiation“.
The Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) is leading the operation in which the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization (ANSTO) also participates.
They warn about the risks of exposure to this toxic substance
Western Australia emergency teams have issued a new alert for motorists to circulate through the area where the radioactive object is believed to have been lost and run into the search party.
“Radiation specialists and DFES are searching along the Great Northern Highway driving north and south at low speed. Be careful when approaching and be careful when overtaking.”
Authorities warned, in a previous alert, about the risks of exposure to this toxic substance, which include “radiation burns or radiation sickness”, like cancer. The department asks that in case of sighting any suspicious material, people remain at least five meters away, do not touch it, do not keep it in bags or backpacks and do not take it to their cars, but report it “immediately” to the authorities.
“The risk to the community at large is relatively low, however it is important to be aware of the risks and know what to do if you see the capsule,” the alert states.
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 broken and one of those tiny capsules had been lost on the way.
Ricardo is a renowned author and journalist, known for his exceptional writing on top-news stories. He currently works as a writer at the 247 News Agency, where he is known for his ability to deliver breaking news and insightful analysis on the most pressing issues of the day.