Missing tiny radioactive capsule found on 870-mile stretch of road in Australian outback
Mining giant Rio Tinto admitted on January 25 – the eve of a public holiday when millions of Australians hit the road – that one of their contractors had lost a caesium-137 capsule.
A small piece of a sensor used to measure the density of iron ore is believed to have fallen off the back of a truck sometime between January 11 and 16 while driving from Rio Tinto’s Gooday Darry mine into the city. storage.
When workers unpacked for inspection, the pressure gauge was found to be broken, with one of the four mounting bolts missing, and the pressure gauge screws were also missing.
Simon Trott, chief executive of Rio Tinto, said the company was “incredibly grateful” but “the point is, it should never have been lost.”
“I would like to apologize to the wider Western Australian community for the concern it has caused,” Mr Trott said.
“We are taking this incident very seriously and are conducting a full and thorough investigation into how it happened.
“These types of incidents are extremely rare in our industry, so we need to thoroughly investigate them and find out what we can do to prevent them from happening again. As part of our investigation, we will evaluate whether our processes and protocols are appropriate, including the use of specialized contractors to package and transport radioactive material.”
Contractors who lost the capsule are under investigation and may face criminal charges.
Rio Tinto has been at the center of controversy in the Pilbara region and across Australia. Two years ago, when it was revealed that the company had blown up a sacred Aboriginal site.