Search for Lost Radioactive Capsule in Western Australia

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Western Australia emergency services issue radioactive alert as a capsule with toxic Cesium-137 disappears during transport

Emergency services in Western Australia have issued a “radioactive substance risk” alert, following an intense search to locate a toxic capsule lost during its transfer to the regional capital, Perth.

The tiny capsule, 6mm in diameter and 8mm high, contains a “small amount” of the radioactive substance Cesium-137, used in mining, and “disappeared during transport between a mine” north of the town of Newman and north-east Perth between January 10 and 16.

The Western Australia Department of Health has warned of the risks of exposure to this toxic substance, including “radiation burns or radiation sickness,” such as cancer.

The agency has asked people to keep at least five meters away from any suspicious material they may come across, avoiding to touch, keep in bags or backpacks, and take it to their car. Instead, they have been asked to report it “immediately” to the authorities.

Team working in the search for the radioactive capsule do not yet know the exact point where it was lost, since the town of Newman is located about 1,400 kilometers away from the northeast of Perth, the final destination of the truck that was transporting it.

The toxic material was packaged on January 10 and the vehicle arrived in Perth six days later, but it was not until the 25th that cargo inspectors realized that one of the capsules had been lost on the way.

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