Australian authorities found a radioactive capsule smaller than a coin lost in the vast Outback after nearly a week-long search along a 1,400km stretch of highway.
Despite a 1400km-long search area along the Great Northern Highway, the capsule was located two meters from the road south of Newman.
The capsule lost in transit more than two weeks ago was discovered when a vehicle traveling at 70km per hour equipped with specialist detection equipment picked up the radiation.
Emergency services had “literally found the needle in the haystack,” they said.
The silver capsule contains a small amount of cesium-137 and is dangerously radioactive. Experts said an hour of exposure from about a meter away is equivalent to having 10 X-rays, and prolonged contact can cause skin burns, acute radiation sickness, and cancer.
The device is part of a density gauge used to measure iron ore feed density.
The gauge was being transported by a subcontracted company, who picked it up from the mine site on 12 January to move it to a storage facility in the northeast suburbs of Perth.
The authorities said vibrations during transit may have caused bolts from the gauge to become loose, allowing the capsule to fall through gaps in the casing and truck.