On January 25, Western Australian authorities were faced with a seemingly impossible task when mining company Rio Tinto reported that one of its radioactive cesium-137 capsules had gone missing. Authorities took action, mobilizing special search teams to search for the capsule, and even required the use of firefighters.
On January 27, an emergency health warning was issued to warn the public of the danger posed by the radioactive capsule: “Stay away. It emits both beta and gamma rays, so if it comes close to you, you could injure your skin, including burns,” said state health officer Andy Robertson.
Search crews used portable devices for radiation reconnaissance. These devices are designed to detect radioactivity within a radius of 20 meters. Soon, new state-provided tools, “special radiation detection equipment,” began to be used. Local media reported that among the new tools used by the search teams were radiation portal monitors and a gamma spectrometer. As a result, at 11:13 am local time yesterday, the government reported that the capsule was located just two meters from the side of the highway.