A capsule containing the most dangerous radioactive material was found in Australia, where it had been searched since mid-January, but was lost while being smuggled.
“This is good news. As I said, it was like finding a needle in a haystack. Now Western Australians can sleep easy,” Steve Twason, head of emergency services for the wider Australian region, told reporters.
The capsule was lost while being transported by Australian mining company Rio Tinto between the Pilbara region – where the company owns more than a dozen extraction points – and the city of Perth.
Searches were mainly concentrated on the Great Nordehern Highway, a highway of more than 1400 kilometers.
The small capsule (six millimeters in diameter and eight millimeters in height) contained a “small amount” of cesium-137, a radioactive material used in mining.
According to the Western Australian Department of Health, the capsule was lost while being transported by truck between January 10 and 16.
Australia’s nuclear safety agency joined search operations on Monday, implementing procedures designed to protect “society from the harmful effects of radiation.”
The radioactive material was loaded onto the truck on January 10 and the vehicle arrived in Perth six days later.
On January 25, Rio Tinto inspectors realized that the container containing the radioactive material had been damaged and that the capsule had been lost during the voyage.