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Australia Mining Company Sorry for Losing Radioactive Device BREAKING NEWS: IT'S BEEN FOUND!

Original source: AP News


PERTH, Australia (AP) — A mining corporation apologized for losing a highly radioactive capsule over a 1,400-kilometer (870-mile) stretch of Western Australia, as authorities combed parts of the road looking for the tiny but dangerous substance.

The capsule was part of a device believed to have fallen off a truck while being transported between a desert mine site and the city of Perth on Jan. 10.

The truck transporting the capsule arrived at a Perth depot on Jan. 16. Emergency services were notified of the missing capsule on Jan. 25.

Western Australia emergency services have called on other Australian states and the federal government for support finding the capsule as they lack equipment. The capsule measures 8 millimeters by 6 millimeters (0.31 inches by 0.24 inches), and people have been warned it could have unknowingly become lodged in their car’s tires.

The caesium 137 ceramic source, commonly used in radiation gauges, emits dangerous amounts of radiation, equivalent of receiving 10 X-rays in an hour. It could cause skin burns and prolonged exposure could cause cancer.

The chief executive of the mining giant Rio Tinto Iron Ore, Simon Trott, on Sunday said the company was taking the incident very seriously and apologized for causing public concern.
“We recognize this is clearly very concerning and are sorry for the alarm it has caused in the Western Australian community,” Trott said. “As well as fully supporting the relevant authorities, we have launched our own investigation to understand how the capsule was lost in transit.”

The search has involved people scanning for radiation levels from the device along roads used by the trucks, with authorities indicating the entire 1,400-kilometer (870-mile) route might have to be searched.

Western Australia’s Department of Fire and Emergency Services publicly announced the capsule had gone missing on Friday, two days after they were notified by Rio Tinto.

Trott said the contractor was qualified to transport the device and it had been confirmed being on board the truck by a Geiger counter prior to leaving the mine.

Police determined the incident to be an accident and no criminal charges are likely.

A missing radioactive capsule used in Rio Tinto’s mining operations that sparked a radiation alert in Western Australia has been found.

The stainless steel 6 millimeter by 8 millimeter (0.24 inch by 0.32 inch) device is part of a gauge used for measuring the density of iron ore feed and fell off the back of a truck operated by a specialist third party.

The capsule was reported missing after a 1,400-kilometer (870 mile) journey through a rural region. The gauge was being taken to a specialist center in Perth for repairs and arrived on Jan. 16. But the capsule was not discovered missing until Jan. 25 and is thought to have come loose on the bumpy road.

Emergency services conducted a huge search operation to find the device, which they warned could cause radiation burns or radiation sickness from close exposure, despite a low risk to the public due to its size and remoteness. Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto said it was assisting in the operation.

Western Australian authorities said Wednesday the device had been controlled and contained.

It was found by the side of the road on the Great Northern Highway near the town of Newman, which is around 1,100 kilometers north of Perth.

Emergency service workers and a team from Australia’s Nuclear Science and Technology Organization located it after a slow-moving roadside hunt using specialized radiation equipment.

Authorities said it would now be transported securely to a Western Australia health facility in Perth.

The company’s iron ore chief executive, Simon Trott, on Monday apologized for causing alarm.

In a statement Wednesday, Trott thanked emergency services for their work.

“While the recovery of the capsule is a great testament to the skill and tenacity of the search team, the fact is it should never have been lost in the first place. I’d like to apologise to the wider community of Western Australia for the concern it has generated,” he said.

Trott added this kind of incident was rare but the company was undertaking an investigation into how it occurred and whether the use of specialist contractors to package and transport radioactive materials was appropriate.

... GO TO Lost Now Found TO READ MORE

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