Australia Radioactive Capsule Missing: What are the dangers if someone picks it up?

Authorities are under quite a tense situation as a capsule containing radioactive Caesium-137 went missing. The Western Australia Radioactive Capsule was reported almost 2 days ago. Now, what exactly will happen if someone picks this radioactive capsule up and takes it along for a ride, not knowing what it is?

If you see us referring to the capsule the great “Western Australia radioactive capsule”, do leave us some good ol’ slack. We utilizing SEO to get this article to reach you. This article is possibly the closest you will get to The Riddle youtube channel’s macho voice.

Where did the Western Australia Radioactive Capsule get lost?

Image courtesy of Sydney Morning Herald
  • The capsule got lost in between Newman Town and the City of Perth. And this happened back in the mid-January. The Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) has warned the public to stay away from the capsule if they see it.

Now, the search team will have it rough because the distance is almost 1,400 km or 870 miles. It was lost from the truck that was transporting it from a mine site in the north of Newman Town in the Pilbara region to the Northeastern parts of Perth during 10-16 January.

What does the Radioactive Capsule contain?

Western Australia Radioactive Capsule
Image courtesy of The Guardian

The capsule contains Caesium-137 which is a radioactive isotope of cesium and is primarily used in mining operations. 

What are the dangers if someone picks up this lost Western Australia Radioactive Capsule?

Now the dangers are too many. Firstly, it helps to note that it cannot be weaponized. Its primary hazard is environmentalmeaning radiation burns, poisoning, and posing long-term threats to both human health and the environment which it occupies. But that’s only in short, here’s more –

Dangers of Western Australia Radioactive Capsule

Caesium-137 is usually considered a problematic radiocaesium. Unlike other fission products (radioactive) they have relatively shorter lifespans. But it also has a low boiling point. It is vulnerable when released in high temperatures. And one such example is of Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster. 

How is it relevant in the case of Chernobyl Disaster?

You heard it right, it is remembered in history as the most destructive nuclear disaster ever. Humankind witnessed about 27 kg of cesium-137 going up into the air.

In the process of decay that ensued, the most stagnant, persistent, and predominant source of radiation in the fallout of Chernobyl disaster was caesium-137.

What if you put the Western Australia Radioactive Capsule somewhere where it can explode?

Western Australia Radioactive Capsule
Image courtesy of Daily Mail

It has a relatively low boiling point of 671 °C (1,240 °F). Indicating it’s high volatility to heat/hot temperatures. Although if you do find this capsule, it won’t be that easy putting it in a high enough temperature for it to cause a fallout.

  • But let’s say you put it somewhere near the presence of some inflammable object. In the event of an explosion, which will cause high heat, it will easily cause the Caesium-137 capsule to be affected. In the worst case, you’ll have a mini Chernobyl disaster. 

It will cause a mini-nuclear fallout

  1. The explosion will cause massive gas clouds which will be radioactive in nature. The smog and heat will not be your only problem. The radioactive material will mix with the vapor and eventually cool down. It will then become dense, and dust-like.
  2. The condensed radioactive material falling back to earth like hellfire is what is usually known as fallout. Although the dangers are not as big as a Chernobyl disaster, it is still not something dismissable.

Now if you do manage to explode it, it will cause the radioactive elements to travel long distances. That’s one of its characteristics.

How it will spread to the environment

If the fallout falls into the soil, which it definitely will, it will easily spread down from Earth. Simply because of the high solubility of most of the common compounds caesium’s composition.

What happens if someone picks it up but does not cause an explosion?

  • Dr. Andrewew Robertson who is the state’s chief health officer and Radiological Council Chair also warned that it has a ‘reasonable’ amount of radiation.
  • Meaning even if you do not cause a mini-nuclear explosion, just being exposed to it is very concerning.

“Our concern is that someone will pick it up, not knowing what it is,” he said. “They may think it is something interesting and keep it, or keep it in their room, keep it in their car, or give it to someone.” Explained the concerned authorities. 

What to do if you find the Western Australia Radioactive Capsule?

  1. DFES – Department of Fire and Emergency Services has released the details of the object. The capsule measures 6mm by 8mm.
  2. DFES has released an illustration of the object, which measures 6mm by 8mm. Anyone who sees/finds/comes upon the Caesium-137 capsule is to immediately contact the DFES.

SOURCES: BBC, CDC, Stanford Edu

Also Read: A Simplified Explanation Of The Pooh Pathology Test + Where To Take It?

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