Australian Authorities Investigating Missing Radioactive Material
CANBERRA, Oct 20 (NNN-AAP) – Authorities are investigating, after radioactive material was reported missing from a steelworks in South Australia (SA).
The SA Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) yesterday confirmed they are searching for a piece of equipment, with a small radiation source, that was reported missing from a steel factory in Whyalla, 230 km north-west of Adelaide, on Sept 28.
Its reported disappearance prompted the EPA and APANSA to deploy emergency response teams to the area, with specialised equipment to undertake extensive radiological and physical searches that were ultimately unsuccessful.
Keith Baldry, director of science and systems at the EPA, told state media, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) radio that, the missing equipment is a bin-level gauge, which is used to measure stored materials in industrial silos and bins.
“It’s a Cobalt-60 radioactive source,” he said.
“It’s quite small, just a few millimetres in a 50 kilogram (kg) container.”
He said, authorities believe the gauge is still on the steelworks site and, based on the radioactive material having decayed to a 100th of its original activity since it was purchased 35 years ago, it does not pose a risk to workers or the public.
It is the second time that radioactive material has gone missing in Australia in 2023.
A potentially deadly highly radioactive capsule was lost in transit in the Western Australian outback in Jan, triggering an emergency search along a 1,000 km stretch of road.
It was found by the side of the road by a team from the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), after a seven-day search involving over 100 people.