California Observer

Radioactive capsule found in Australia

radioactive capsule

Image Source: News7

Authorities in Western Australia announced they have found the small radioactive capsule that went missing last month.

They said that the emergency services had found “the needle in the haystack.”

A vast search began when the object got lost while moving across the state on a 1,400km (870 miles) route.

Authorities released a photo of the pea-sized radioactive capsule, which could cause serious harm if touched, on the ground among tiny pebbles.

They knew they had found the right capsule, which was 6mm (0.24 inches) in diameter and 8mm long because it had a serial number.

It has a small amount of Caesium-137, which can damage the skin, burn it, or make you sick from radiation.

Rio Tinto, a big mining company, said it was sorry for losing the device used in the mining business to measure density.

The radioactive capsule is now in a “hot zone” of 20m and will be put into a lead container.

It will be kept in a safe location in the town of Newman overnight, and on Thursday, it will be moved to a safe place in Perth.

When the state emergency services told the public about the find, they praised “inter-agency teamwork in the face of what seemed like insurmountable odds.”

Officials say that the capsule was found when a vehicle going at 70 km/h (43 mph) and equipped with special equipment picked up radiation.

The radioactive capsule was then found with portable detection equipment. It was about 2m (7ft) from the side of the road.

The device was used as part of a density gauge at Rio Tinto’s Gudai-Darri mine in Western Australia’s remote Pilbara region.

Simon Trott, the head of the company’s iron ore division, said, “The radioactive capsule should have never been lost.” He thanked the officials for the “pretty amazing” way the capsule was found.

Mr. Trott also said Rio Tinto would be happy to pay for the search if the government asked.

Australia’s government has promised to look at the laws that are already in place on the subject.

At a news conference in Perth, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said that the current fine for not taking care of radioactive materials safely is “ridiculously low.” At the moment, it is A$1,000 ($700, £575), plus A$50 ($35, £30) for each day that the crime is still being committed.

Andrew Robertson, Western Austrailia’s chief health officer said this week that being exposed to trace amounts of the metal is like getting 10 X-rays in one hour and the amount of natural radiation we would get in a year.

The radioactive capsule was missing for two weeks

The area where the lost radioactive capsule was found was very big. However, it is about the same distance as driving from John O’Groats in northern Scotland to Land’s End in southwest England or Washington, DC, to Orlando, Florida.

The desert is far away and has one of the fewest people in the country. For example, only one out of every five people in Western Australia lives outside Perth, the capital city.

A subcontracted company was in charge of moving the gauge. On January 12, they picked it up from the mine site and transferred it to a storage in the northeast of Perth.

When  taken out of the box on January 25 to be checked, the gauge was broken, and the radioactive capsule was gone. In addition, one of the four screws and bolts for mounting was also missing.

Authorities said the bolts might have come loose because of vibrations while the capsule was in transit. This allowed the capsule fall through gaps in the truck and casing.

Rio Tinto has a bad reputation in Australia

Rio Tinto blew up 46,000-year-old rock shelters at Juukan Gorge in Western Australia in 2020 in an attempt to expand an iron ore mine. This caused a huge uproar that led to the resignation of several of the company’s top bosses.

And last year, a parliamentary investigation found that sexual harassment was common at Australia’s mining companies. This was after an internal review at Rio Tinto found that more than 20 women reported actual or attempted rape over five years.

Refusal to pay

Rio Tinto, a big mining company, had to deal with a revolt from its shareholders over a $10m (£7.2m) bonus for its boss, who was leaving.

In a rare turn of events, 61% of the votes cast at the company’s annual meeting were against the executive pay package.

The backlash is because the company destroyed sacred Aboriginal rock shelters in Western Australia last May.

Rio Tinto blew up rock shelters at Juukan Gorge built 46,000 years ago so they could expand an iron ore mine. This caused a big fuss and caused several people to quit their jobs.

Read Also: Rio Tinto apologizes for loss of capsule

The pay package includes $55 million in salary and bonuses for the top 14 executives of the company.

Even though the shareholders voted against the executives, they should still get paid because the vote was only advisory.

In September, the company’s CEO, Jean-Sébastien Jacques, and other top executives, including the heads of its iron ore and corporate relations divisions, said they would be leaving.

And earlier this year, the company’s chairman, Simon Thompson, and a non-executive director, Michael L’Estrange, both said they would leave.

Opinions expressed by California Observer contributors are their own.


stock markets

Stock markets rebound amid reassurances

Image Source: Yahoo Finance After the US and UK governments gave markets more reassurance about the safety of banks, stock markets worldwide went up again.

Opinions expressed by California Observer contributors are their own.