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Deadly and tiny missing radioactive capsule has been found in Australia

Deadly and tiny missing radioactive capsule has been found in Australia

Authorities had to search along a 1,400km stretch of highway to locate the 'needle in the haystack'.

Authorities have revealed the tiny and deadly missing radioactive capsule has been found in the Australian outback.

It's smaller than a 10 cent piece and it managed to hop off the back of a truck that was travelling from the Pilbara mining town of Newman to the Perth suburb of Malaga.

ABC News says it was lost anytime between January 11 to January 16 and it had authorities really concerned.

While it might be small, it posed a serious threat to life as it could cause cancer to anyone who spent enough time around it as it contained a small quantity of radioactive Caesium-137.

The capsule is 'used within gauges in mining operations', according to News Corp.

Authorities had a big job on their hands as they were tasked to find a needle in a haystack.

Their search area was a 1,400 kilometre stretch of highway and they had to sweep the whole road, including on either side, to find it.

Peter Ptschelinzew / Alamy Stock Photo

Thankfully though, it's been located.

WA Emergency Services Minister Stephen Dawson said: "I do want to emphasise this is an extraordinary result. The search crews have quite literally found the needle in the haystack."

It was found two metres from the road by a team comprising of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation and the Department of Fire and Emergency Services.

A vehicle was going 70km/h down the highway when a radioactive detection device started pinging with good news.

That narrowed the humungous search area down and authorities started combing through the earth just off the Great Northern Highway.

Now that it's been found, a 20 metre 'hot zone' has been set up around where the capsule was located to protect the public.

Minister Dawson said: "Let's wait and see what happens with the investigation as to who we can apportion blame to.

"But certainly, I do want to state Rio Tinto have been exceptional in terms of how they have reached out to us and offered all levels of support, so I'm very grateful for that offer from [Rio Tinto's Chief Executive of Iron Ore] Simon Trott."

Trott was pleased to know the capsule had been found.

"I would be happy to reimburse the cost of the search, of course that ultimately is a matter for the state government," he said.

"There will be a full investigation, we'll fully cooperate with the investigation, if as part of that there's a request from government, we would be happy to reimburse the cost of the search."

Featured Image Credit: DFES. Michael Evans / Alamy Stock Photo

Topics: News, Australia