A missing radioactive capsule no larger than a human fingernail is being sought after, according to authorities in Western Australia.
According to the Department of Fire and Emergency Services, the radioactive material-containing capsule was lost in transport.
The little silver capsule has an 8 mm height and a 6 mm diameter.
The unit was lost after a screw became loose inside a large lead-lined gauge and it fell through a hole. The small silver cylinder contains caesium-137, a highly radioactive isotope which experts say cannot be weaponised.
The unit emits the equivalent of 10 X-rays in an hour and members of the public should stay at least 16ft away from it, state authorities said. Contact could result in skin damage, burns and radiation sickness, including effects on the immune system. Long-term exposure could also cause cancer.
Rio Tinto had contracted an expert radioactive materials handler to package the capsule and transport it “safely” from their mines in Western Australia to the depot in Malaga Perth, and was not reported as missing until 25 January.
Over 900 miles of the Great Northern Highway are being searched by workers for the capsule.
Drivers have been advised to inspect their tires to determine if the capsule has gotten stuck in the treads.
The capsule includes radioactive material, so people have been advised to avoid it if they see it.