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Feverish search for radioactive capsule in Australia

A radioactive capsule was lost during a journey of 1,400 kilometers. The container is significantly smaller than a dime. The health officer is issuing an urgent warning.

In Western Australia, authorities are frantically searching for a radioactive capsule that was lost in transit from a mining site. The capsule, which is just six by eight millimeters in size, is located somewhere on a 1,400km stretch between a mine north of the mining town of Newman and Malaga, a suburb of the Perth metropolis. The region’s health official, Andrew Robertson, issued an urgent health alert.

Anyone discovering anything that looks like a tiny capsule must maintain a distance of at least five meters. The capsule emits “a good amount of radiation,” Robertson said. Within a meter radius, that’s equivalent to ten X-rays in an hour – or the amount of natural radiation a person is exposed to in an entire year. “It emits beta and gamma rays. If you get close to it, you can get skin damage, including skin burns,” Robertson said.

It is not clear when the capsule was lost.

He posted a photo on Twitter showing that such a radioactive capsule is significantly smaller than a dime. Meanwhile, it’s unclear when exactly the tiny disappeared – it is said to have fallen out of a truck sometime after January 10th. According to the information, the vibrations caused a screw to loosen during driving and the capsule fell through the screw hole. Initially, it was unclear why the capsule was not securely attached.

The Fire Brigade, Western Australia Police, Ministry of Health and experts participated in the search. Owners of vehicles traveling on the Grande Norte Highway were instructed to check the tires, according to broadcaster ABC. The capsule could have gotten stuck there. Radioactive capsules are used in mining. In the Newman region, where shipping began, iron ore is mainly mined.