The tiny radioactive capsule lost in Australia has been found. This reports the BBC. In announcing the find on Wednesday, state emergency services acknowledged the “cross-team teamwork in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.”
British-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto has apologized for the incident. The millimeter-sized capsule had apparently fallen from a truck while being transported from a mine north of the mining town of Newman to a depot near the city of Perth – according to the latest information, sometime after January 12 and somewhere on the 1400-kilometer route. The fact that the capsule was missing was noticed only on January 25, when the truck was unloaded.
“We take this incident very seriously,” Australian broadcaster ABC quoted Simon Trott, head of Rio Tinto’s iron ore division, as saying on Monday. The corporation operates the Gudai Darri mine, from where the capsule was transported. “We recognize that this is clearly a matter of great concern and apologize for the alarm it has caused among the people of Western Australia.”
Rio Tinto hired a third party with the expertise and certification to securely package the dangerous capsule in preparation for shipment. The company also launched its own investigation to find out how she could have disappeared.
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The loss of the capsule containing the highly radioactive cesium-137, measuring just six by eight millimetres, had caused great concern among the authorities in Western Australia given the very dangerous material. Anyone who discovers something that looks like a tiny capsule should keep a distance of at least five meters, they said. The Western Australia Department of Health informed the public about the incident late on Friday (local time). Meanwhile, teams from the fire brigade and rescue services searched the busy freight route with portable radiation and metal detectors.