Authorities in Western Australia were searching for a tiny but potentially deadly radioactive capsule that got lost while being transported on a truck from a mine to a depot in the city of Perth, officials said on Saturday. Emergency services said they were hampered by a lack of equipment and have called on the Commonwealth and other states to provide assistance.
What the capsule looks like. Pic/Twitter
The Department of Fire and Emergency Services has deployed teams with handheld radiation detection devices and metal detectors along 36 km (22 miles) of a busy freight route to look for the 8 mm by 6 mm (0.31 inches by 0.24 inches) unit. It is believed to have fallen off the back of a truck on a 1,400-km (870-mile) journey from the Rio Tinto mine in Newman to the Perth suburb of Malaga.
“What we’re not doing is trying to find a tiny little device by eyesight,” said Superintendent Darryl Ray, adding they were concentrating on populated areas north of Perth and strategic sites along the Great Northern Highway.
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“We’re using the radiation detectors to locate the gamma rays,” he said. There are concerns the solid capsule may have already become lodged in another vehicle’s tyre and potentially be hundreds of km (miles) away from the search area. It is believed a screw became loose inside a large lead-lined gauge and the unit fell through a hole.
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