Radioactive capsule goes missing on a highway in Western Australia

A tiny ceramic capsule containing a highly radioactive substance was lost during a truck journey in Western Australia.

The capsule, which measures 8mm by 6mm, fell off the truck during its 1,400km drive from Rio Tinto’s Gudai-Darri iron ore mine in the Pilbara region to Perth.

The capsule contained caesium-137, a radioactive isotope that emits beta radiation and high-energy photons.

It was used in a radiation gauge on the mine site and had an activity level of 19 gigabecquerels.

The substance is dangerous but also has practical applications, including cancer treatments, measuring metal thickness, and calibrating radiation gauges.

Transporting radioactive sources is a routine occurrence in Australia, subject to strict regulations and oversight by agencies like the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency and state regulators.