Authorities have warned the public about the risks of touching tiny capsules containing radioactive material that were lost during transit in Western Australia.
A silvery round capsule about a quarter inch in diameter and about a third inch high contains a small amount of radioactive cesium-137. This is the substance used inside the gauge in mining operations. Australia’s Department of Health has warned of serious health effects of the substance.
The capsule departed by road from a mining site north of the town of Newman on 12 January, according to a statement issued by Western Australia’s Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) on Saturday.
It had been sent to the northeast suburbs of Perth for repairs. The package containing the capsules she arrived in Perth on 16 January was placed in a secure radiation vault.
However, when I opened the package for inspection on Wednesday, I found that the gauge was broken and the screw was missing. The capsule was not there.
Western Australian Police notified DFES and the Danger Management Agency that evening. A search is underway to locate and safely contain the capsule, according to DFES Country North chief executive David Gill.
“A multi-agency incident management team consisting of the DFES, Department of Health, Washington State Police, and other subject matter experts has confirmed the exact route and stops made during Newman’s travel north. ” he said in a statement on Friday.
“The beginning and end of the transport journey – a mine site north of Newman and a transport depot in the north-east suburbs of Perth – were among the locations searched on Thursday and Friday,” he added. , also looking at roads and other areas within the search zone.”
Emergency services have warned of radiological risks in the Pilbara, Midwest Gascoigne, Goldfields-Midlands and parts of the Perth metropolitan area.
Exposure to Cesium-137 can cause radiation burns and radiation sickness. But the risk to the general public is relatively low, officials said.
“When people see a capsule or something similar, they should stay away and let others stay away,” said Dr. Andrew Robertson, chief health officer and chairman of the Radiation Council. said in a statement on Friday.
“Do not touch or lift. Members of the public are urged to call 13 DFES (13 33 37) to report immediately,” he added, adding that touching or going near the material for an extended period of time Those who do are advised to seek medical attention.
“Coming too close to or touching materials can greatly increase radiation risk and cause serious health damage, including causing radiation burns to the skin,” Robertson said.