March 30, 2023

Urgent search for radioactive capsule containing cesium-137 missing in Australia – 29/01/2023

The tiny object – smaller than a 10-minute piece – contains enough cesium-137 to cause serious health problems

Australian authorities are urgently searching for a tiny capsule that has gone missing and contains an extremely dangerous radioactive substance.

The capsule contains a small but lethal amount of cesium 137, which can cause serious health problems in living things, including humans.

The object is only 6mm by 8mm – it’s smaller than a dime. It went missing this January between a mining camp north of Newman City and the city of Perth, 1,400km apart. The material was being transported by truck.

Cesium-137 is a substance often used in mining activities.

The Australian Department of Fire and Emergency Services says the material cannot be used to make weapons, but that it poses a serious health risk.

The capsule contains enough cesium to cause radiation burns and other long-term problems such as cancer.

“Our concern is that someone picks up the item because they don’t know what it is,” says Andrew Robertson, the state’s health coordinator.

“Someone might think it’s something interesting and keep it—in their bedroom, in their car—or even give it to someone else,” he says.

The capsule is tiny but emits a large amount of radiation - DFES - DFES

The capsule is tiny, but emits a large amount of radiation.

Image: DFES

The locations where the transport started and where it should have ended up were investigated. Authorities are also trying to map the exact route taken and stops to narrow down the scope of the search.

Australian authorities warn that anyone who sees the object should call emergency services and seek immediate medical attention if they come into contact with it.

tragedy in Brazil

Cesium-137 caused one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters in Brazil in 1987 when a clinic with a radiation therapy machine was abandoned and the material was improperly disposed of.

The material was found in Goiânia by two garbage collectors, who sold it to a junkyard. Not knowing what the “shiny dust” was, dozens of people had direct contact with the radioactive material, including children. The infection affected 249 people, many of whom died shortly afterwards.

*This text was originally published at

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