He Health effects of coming into contact with a radioactive capsule no larger than a coin that was lost in Western Australia – and has since been found – could be potentially serious, experts say.
Cesium-137 is a human-made fission blueprint that is often used in radiology laboratories and in industrial settings, such as inside gauges at mining operations, said Angela Di Fulvio, an assistant professor of nuclear engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana. -Champaign. ABC News.
The tiny cesium-137-filled capsule, 8mm tall and 6mm in diameter, was found on the edge of a remote road on Wednesday afternoon, six days after it went missing in Western Australia.
“When you consider the scope of the investigation area, locating this object was a monumental challenge, the search parties literally found the needle in the haystack,” state Emergency Services Minister Stephen Dawson said during a conference on Wednesday. press, according to Reuters.
Emergency response personnel and radiation specialists were frantically searching for the capsule along a busy 22-mile freight route in the Pilbara, Midwest Gascoyne, Goldfields-Midlands and Perth Metropolitan regions, according to the Fire and Services Department. Western Australia Emergency Department.
Search parties headed north and south along the Great Northern Highway at low speed in hopes of finding the capsule, DFES said in a statement. Specialized DFES search teams also used radiation meters to detect gamma rays and radiation levels to try to locate the capsule, according to the agency.
The capsule was lost during transport from the Rio Tinto mine in northern Newman to the north-eastern suburbs of Perth, a journey of 870 miles.
Authorities believe a screw came loose inside the large lead line meter and the unit fell through a hole. The Associated Press informed. The capsule was packaged in accordance with radiation safety regulations, authorities said.
The capsule contained materials that are “a million times more active” than those used in a laboratory, Di Fulvio said, describing it as a “very active” source. At 1,665 millisieverts per hour, the unit of measurement used for radiation, which comes within 1 meter of the source, is comparable to about 17 chest X-rays, Di Fulvio said.
Prolonged exposure near the capsule, for example if someone had picked it up and put it in their pocket, could cause serious and even life-threatening health effects within hours, Di Fulvio said.
Erythema, or reddening of the skin, would be among the first symptoms, and the severity of the effects increases dramatically with exposure time, he added.
Exposure to the radioactive substance could also cause radiation burns or radiation sickness, according to the DFES.
Officials warned the public to stay at least 5 meters, or about 16 feet, away and not to touch it if they saw anything that might be the material.
Andrew Robertson, Western Australia’s health director, said officials are concerned that an unsuspecting person would pick up the item without knowing what it is and keep it, the AP reported.
“I’m sure they’ll be able to find it,” she said, before the discovery of the capsule.
The capsule had been packaged on January 1. 10 to be sent to Perth for repair, and the package containing the capsule arrived in Perth on 2 January. 16, where it was offloaded and stored at the licensed service provider’s secure radiation warehouse, according to DFES.
When the indicator was unpacked for inspection on January 1st. On February 25, inspectors found the indicator to be broken, DFES said. One of the four mounting bolts was missing, as were the radiation source and all of the indicator screws.
Police said the missing pod case was an accident and they likely won’t file criminal charges, the AP reported. An investigation will look into how the capsule was packaged and transported.
Leave a Comment