Against All Odds, The Australian Radioactive Capsule Has Been Found

"The search groups have quite literally found the needle in the haystack."

James Felton

James Felton

James Felton

James Felton

Senior Staff Writer

James is a published author with four pop-history and science books to his name. He specializes in history, strange science, and anything out of the ordinary.

Senior Staff Writer

An Australian highway, with desert on either side.

Finding the capsule was no easy task. Image credit: Gonzalo Buzonni/

Authorities in Western Australia say that they have found the radioactive capsule which had been lost last week somewhere near Perth.

Finding the capsule was described by Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm as finding the "needle in the haystack". 


"When you consider the challenge of finding an object smaller than a 10-cent coin along a 1,400-kilometre [870-mile] stretch of Great Northern Highway," Klemm said in a statement, "it is a tremendous result."

The 8-millimeter by 6-millimeter (0.31-inch by 0.24-inch) silver capsule – about the size of a small pea – was found when radiation emitting from it was detected by a search vehicle using specialized radiation equipment. The device is now being transported to a Western Australia health facility in Perth.

An investigation is being launched into how the radioactive device was lost.

“I have responsibility as the chair of the radiological council to actually investigate and if required, prosecute offences under the act,” Western Australia chief health officer, Andrew Robertson said in a statement seen by The Guardian.


“We have a number of authorised officers who are doing that. Our radiation health branch, within the Department of Health, is conducting that investigation and they will be looking at all aspects of this event.”

According to Robertson, the device appears to have fallen off the truck transporting it for use as a gauge in a mining operation.

Though hanging around radioactive material is what's medically known as "not great", the main concern authorities had was that the capsule could have become trapped in a car wheel and expose the occupant to radiation over a long period of time.

"As I have mentioned previously, to be at risk of radiation exposure you need to be close to the source for a period of time," Robertson said in the official statement.


"If you were one metre [3.3 feet] away from the source for one hour, that would be the equivalent of receiving the radiation dose of 10 X-rays.

Given that the capsule lay at the side of the road while it was missing, it appears unlikely that anyone has been contaminated during the incident.

"This is a great result for the community of Western Australia," he added.


  • tag
  • radiation,

  • mining,

  • radioactive,

  • radioactive decay,

  • radiation poisoning,

  • radioactive gauge