Fri, 31 Mar 2023

SYDNEY, Feb. 2 (Xinhua) -- The radioactive capsule, which contained 19 gigabecquerels of Caesium-137, is currently traveling from Newman to Perth in a convoy of vehicles, authorities in Western Australia (WA) confirmed on Thursday.

After an operation led by the state's Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES), the tiny capsule - 8 mm high by 6 mm round - remains in a radiation-proof lead container and is being escorted by 14 personnel from DFES, the Australian Defence Force and the Australian Nuclear and Science Technology Organisation.

"There's no chance of escape this time, no matter how bad the vibrations," the DFES said in a statement.

The capsule will be stored by WA Health when it arrives in Perth, as the department is the regulatory authority and has a facility to store it safely.

Earlier, mining company Rio Tinto expressed its gratitude to search crews for locating the missing capsule, which was lost in transit from the company's Gudai-Darri iron ore mine in the Pilbara region.

"While the recovery of the capsule is a great testament to the skill and tenacity of the search team, the fact is it should never have been lost in the first place," said Rio Tinto Iron Ore Chief Executive Simon Trott.

"We are taking this incident very seriously and are undertaking a full and thorough investigation into how it happened," he added.

The company also made it clear that the device involved is an industrial gauge which commonly applies in the mining industry. In this case, it was used to measure iron ore feed in the crushing circuit of the fixed plant.

According to Rio Tinto, the capsule is small, round and stainless steel, and forms part of a level sensor (gauge) that is used in some fixed plant assets.

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