Australian authorities said on Wednesday that a potentially dangerous radioactive capsule had been found and had been wanted since mid-January after it went missing while being trucked from a Rio Tinto mine.
“It’s a good thing. Like I said, it was definitely a needle in a haystack that has been found and I think Western Australians will be able to sleep better tonight,” Steve Dawson, the health minister, told reporters, Australian Government Emergency Services. Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto on Monday apologized for the loss.
Authorities drove hundreds of miles on highways looking for the tiny capsule. It was eventually discovered on the side of a deserted road south of the town of Newman, near the mine from which it had been taken, said State Emergency Services official Darren Clem. After six days of searching, one of the packaged vehicles detected radiation while driving on the highway.
Darren Clem said authorities are now working to safely recover the capsule before it can be moved to a safe location.
The silver-colored capsule, measuring 8 mm by 6 mm, used during mining operations, according to the authorities, contained radioactive material, cesium-137, capable of causing blunt radiation.
He went missing while being transported by truck between a mine near the remote town of Newman and the northern suburbs of Perth (southwest), a distance of approximately 1,400 kilometres.