After a week of searching, authorities located a tiny, dangerous radioactive capsule which fell from a truck in Western Australia.
Emergency services workers said they “found the needle in the haystack” when they located the capsule, which may have posed serious health risks to people who came near it, including radiation burns or sickness.
The metal capsule, which is just 8 millimeters tall with a 6-millimeter diameter, is used in a gauge for mining operations. It contains Caesium-137, a radioactive substance.
Officials confirmed that the capsule cannot be weaponized, and the risk to the greater public is relatively low. However, anyone who happened to get near it was at risk of “serious health consequences,” including radiation burns or sickness.
The capsule was packaged for transportation on Jan. 10 in the state of Western Australia. It was driven to Perth, in the southern part of the state, and unpacked on Jan. 25. Inspectors found the gauge had been broken apart with screws and a bolt also missing in transit.
Authorities spent days trying to find where along its 1,000-km journey it went missing. Crews drove along Australia’s Great Northern Highway at slow speeds to try to find the capsule, using survey meters that detect radiation levels to try and locate it.