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Tiny missing Rio Tinto 'needle in haystack' capsule found in Western Australia

By Frank Prenesti

Date: Wednesday 01 Feb 2023

(Sharecast News) - A miniscule radioactive capsule lost by Australian miner Rio Tinto has been recovered in the remote Western Australian outback, officials said on Wednesday.
The loss of the potentially deadly capsule sparked a manic search and public health warning spanning hundreds of kilometres.

Western Australian Emergency Services Minister Stephen Dawson said it was found about 50 kilometres south of the mining town of Newman in the state's north west.

"I do want to emphasise this is an extraordinary result," he told a news conference. "The search crews have quite literally found the needle in the haystack."

The capsule was found by a team from the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation and the Department of Fire and Emergency Services.

An urgent public warning was issued after the caesium-137 capsule was reported missing on January 25 when it fell off a truck transporting it from a Rio Tinto mine to Perth. It vanished between January 11 and January 16, but its loss was not reported for more than a week.

The capsule, measuring 6mm in diameter by 8mm in height, is used in mining equipment and could lead to dangerously high doses of radiation if mishandled.

WA chief health officer Andy Robertson last week warned it could be anywhere between Perth and the Pilbara, an area stretching 1,400 kilometres.

Motorists who had travelled on the regions Great Northern Highway were asked to check tyre treads to make sure it had not been embedded.

Reporting by Frank Prenesti for Sharecast.com


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