Like looking for a needle in a haystack or, if you prefer, a watch battery on a way longer than our box: as you already know, a radioactive capsule has lost less than a euro cent coin in transit from a mine in Australia in Perth, and has been looking for it for several days with operations Extensive search. Yes, but how dangerous is this capsule? What is it for and how do you look for it?
What’s inside? The capsule, 6 millimeters in diameter and 8 millimeters long, was part of a device that measures the density of iron and is commonly used in mining operations. It contains a small amount of cesium-137, a radioactive isotope of the metal cesium, a by-product of the nuclear fission of uranium that is also used to calibrate radiometric instruments. emits beta and gamma rays, No ionizing radiation, which can alter the structure of DNA and the cellular environment, increasing the risk of cancer. It has a level of radioactivity equivalent to what we would experience if we took 10 x-rays in one hour.
Where are you looking for? The capsule is believed to have fallen from a truck carrying it from the Gudai-Darri iron ore mine operated by Rio Tinto Group in northwest Australia to a warehouse near Perth on the southwest coast. A 1,400-kilometre journey crossing desert and windswept terrain would have pushed the capsule much farther from the site from which it leaked. The counter you belonged to had to be sent in for repairs and the transport was taken over by a courier who specializes in this type of operation.
How did you fall? According to authorities who scour the vast area using Geiger counters, electronic instruments used to measure ionizing radiation, the truck’s vibrations on the road may have damaged the container in which the capsule was kept, loosening its screws. Then, the small object would have come out of the hole where the screw was inserted and fell from there onto the road. Complicating matters is the timing of the accident. The capsule departed on January 12, arriving at its destination 4 days later. But only on January 25th, those who were supposed to receive the parcel opened it for inspection and realized that it was missing.
What effects will it have? One concern is that during this time the capsule may have become stuck in the tire of one of the cars traveling on this route, exposing passengers to high levels of radiation. Authorities have called for anyone who discovers it to stay at least five meters away from the capsule, because close exposure can cause burns, radiation sickness, tissue damage, and other serious health problems: it is estimated that staying a few moments near the capsule receives an amount of radiation equivalent to natural radioactivity ( any derivative) from any other environmental source non-hazardous) which are usually collected in Australia within a year.
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