In Australia, a capsule with radioactive cesium was lost in an area the size of Britain
Western Australian states have announced a radioactive hazard. All because Rio Tinto Ltd lost a tiny radioactive cesium capsule.
The company immediately apologized and suggested that the capsule may have fallen out of the truck.
< p>Now they are looking for a dangerous capsule in an area the size of Britain, that is, more than 240 thousand square kilometers.
Reference. For comparison, the area of Kyiv is only 839 square kilometers. One can only imagine how difficult the search will be.
The highly complex searches of the truck's route, stretching over 1,100 kilometers from Newman North to a storage facility in the northeastern suburbs of Perth, are now ongoing.
Approximate truck route/Photo courtesy of Google Maps
The loss was not immediately discovered
It's unclear how long ago the capsule disappeared, but it is part of a sensor that is used to measure the density of the iron ore. When this sensor was unpacked for testing on January 25, it was found to be broken, with one of the four mounting bolts and screws missing.
Local authorities suspect truck vibration caused loose screws and a bolt, and a radioactive capsule from the sensor fell out of the package and then out of a crevice in the truck.
How dangerous is the cesium capsule
- The silver capsule, 6 millimeters in diameter and 8 millimeters long, contains caesium-137, which emits 10 X-rays per hour.
- Authorities advise people to stay at least five meters away as exposure can cause radiation burns or radiation sickness, although they add thatthe risk to society as a whole is relatively low.
Exposure to small amounts of metal is like “getting 10 x-rays per hour, by comparison, in terms of – this is the radiation that you can get in a year just by walking around.”
Earlier, an unacceptable level of radioactive contamination was unexpectedly discovered on the territory of an elementary school in the suburbs of St. Louis, in the USA. The report notes that the radioactive contamination found in the elementary school had high levels of thorium-230, which “emits very harmful alpha radiation.” Other radioactive isotopes, such as lead-210, have been found in concentrations that are 22 times the expected background radiation, totally unacceptable.