Rio Tinto has been cleared of any wrongdoing after a deadly radioactive capsule that fell off a truck in Western Australia went missing, sparking an unprecedented search.
A radioactive capsule from Rio Tinto went missing in WA The capsule was missing for two weeks in January An investigation cleared Rio Tinto of wrongdoing
Earlier this year an investigation into how a tiny radioactive capsule went missing during transport in the Western Australian outback cleared mining giant Rio Tinto of any wrongdoing.
On Thursday, the miner said the Western Australian Radiological Council, which is investigating the incident, had not identified any breach of WA’s radiation protection laws by the company.
A Rio Tinto spokesperson said: ‘We are grateful to the state and federal governments and everyone involved in the successful recovery of the capsule.
‘Our own internal review has identified opportunities for improvement in the selection of radiation meters and the way they are packaged and transported.’
The capsule – which can fit on a 10 cent piece – came loose during transport from the Pilbara mining town north of Newman to the Perth suburb of Malaga sometime between January 10 and January 16.
An investigation into how a radioactive capsule (above) went missing in Western Australia in January has cleared Rio Tinto of any wrongdoing.
The capsule came loose during transit from the Pilbara mining town of Newman to the Perth suburb of Malaga between January 10 and January 16.
It was found about two weeks later after a search along a road stretching 1,000 kilometers from where it started at the Rio Tinto mine.
An investigation by the Radiological Council of Western Australia, chaired by Chief Health Officer Andrew Robertson, continues.
‘The investigation is being led by the Radiological Council of WA with support from the Department of Health’s Radiation Health Branch.
‘The council continues to consider issues arising from the investigation, for consideration to provide input into updates to national security standards.’
He said revisions to penalties under the Radiation Safety Act were also under consideration, with a maximum fine of $1,000 after publication.
The capsule was found after nearly two weeks of searching (above) along a 1,000-kilometer stretch of road from where it began its journey to the Rio Tinto mine.
The loss of the small capsule has made world headlines.
Small, spherical, silver capsules, 6 mm in diameter and 8 mm in height, are used in gauges in mining operations and contain small amounts of radioactive Caesium-137.
Dr Robertson said despite its size, the capsule contained ‘quite a large radiation dose’, ‘equivalent to receiving about 10 X-rays per hour’.
It was packed onto a pallet at Rio Tinto’s Gudai-Dari mine site on 10 January, the pallet was loaded onto the back of a semi-trailer and left the site for Perth between 11-14 January.
It arrived at a radiation service company in the northern suburbs of Malaga on January 16, but the capsule was not noticed missing until the pallet was unpacked a few days later.
Rio Tinto provided a mobile worker camp to help rebuild the flood-damaged Fitzroy Crossing in exchange for paying the cost of the extensive search for the capsule.
The capsule contained ‘quite a large radiation dose’, ‘equivalent to receiving about 10 X-rays per hour’ (pictured, emergency services during the search).
Chief executive Simon Trott said at the time that the $4 million expenditure was more than the cost of the search.
‘We really want to support the efforts to rebuild the Kimberley after those devastating floods,’ he said.
‘[We’re] It is a real pleasure to work with the state government to bring forward this solution to honor our commitment to fund the capsule’s research.’
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