Investigations Into Tiny Radioactive Capsule Which Disappeared in Outback WA

After week-long search

Article heading image for Investigations Into Tiny Radioactive Capsule Which Disappeared in Outback WA


A tiny radioactive capsule found after two weeks in outback WA is being transported to Perth, ending a "significant public health risk".

WA’s chief health officer, Andrew Robertson, said an investigation into its disappearance has begun. 

“I have responsibility as the chair of the radiological council to actually investigate and if required, prosecute offences under the act,” Robertson said.

“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.”

“It does not appear the device has moved,” he said.

“It appears to have fallen off the truck and landed by the side of the road. It is remote enough that it is not near any major community.”

On January 12, the pea-sized capsule fell from a device on a truck which was travelling from a Rio Tinto mine site in the Pilbara Region to Perth. 

It was located south of Newman, a seemingly impossible task completed by specialist crews.

Nuclear science specialists, emergency management agency, and radiation protection officials were on patrol to help locate the item. 

An urgent health warning was issued on January 27, notifying he public about the risk of the radioactive capsule. 

"It emits both beta rays and gamma rays so if you have it close to you, you could either end up with skin damage including skin burns," Robertson warned.


Authorities rang the alarm, concerned it may have become attached to the tyre of a passing vehicle. 

Department of Fire and Emergency Services commissioner, Darren Klemm, said the capsule was found using specialist radiation detection technology.

Stay up to date with the latest headlines from around the country with LiSTNR's National Briefing:

2 February 2023

Listen Live!
Up Next