A small radioactive capsule with the potential to cause skin burns has been reported lost while being transported from a mine in Western Australia.
Hazardous materials experts are looking for an 8mm by 6mm capsule believed to have fallen from a truck as it was being transported on the 1,400km road between a Pilbara mining site and a warehouse in Perth.
Western Australia health official Andy Robertson, who held an emergency press conference on Friday, said the 6mm by 8mm capsule emitted a “reasonable” amount of radiation.
“Our concern is that someone might take it without knowing what it is. They might think this is something interesting, keep it in their room, hide it in their car, or give it to someone. Frankly, we think it’s important that we warn the public that they should be very careful if they come across this resource,” Robertson said.
“YOU CAN EXPOSURE SKIN BURNS IN A TIME”
Stating that anyone who sees similar substances should notify the authorities without touching them, Robertson said, “One of the long-term risks of being exposed to such a source is cancer. This is clearly a long-term risk. It emits both beta rays and gamma rays. “Over time you can suffer skin damage, including skin burns. If you keep it close for long enough, it can cause what’s known as acute radiation sickness. We recommend that people not be close to it or hold on to it,” he added.
‘CHECK TIRES’ WARNING TO VEHICLE OWNERS
During the trip, Robertson said the substance was found to have fallen from a truck, the vibrations loosened a bolt and the capsule fell through the bolt hole. Drivers traveling along the Great Northern Highway were asked to check their tires in case the capsule was stuck in the tires.
Authorities are now searching for the capsule, which they warn can cause skin burns, radiation sickness and cancer along 1,400km of the Great Northern Highway.
* The image of the news is provided by the Associated Press.