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Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) sends specialist team to Western Australia in search for missing radioactive capsule

Nuclear safety agency joins radioactive capsule hunt

By Michael Ramsey, January 31 2023

Federal authorities are set to join the massive search for a dangerous radioactive capsule missing in Western Australia.

The 8mm by 6mm item fell out of a density gauge while being trucked from a Rio Tinto mine in the Pilbara to Perth.

Emergency services are searching a 1400km route amid warnings the Caesium-137 in the capsule could cause radiation burns or sickness if handled and potentially dangerous levels of radiation with prolonged exposure.

The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) on Tuesday said it had sent a deployment team with specialised car-mounted and portable detection equipment to join the search.

Led by WA’s Department of Fire and Emergency Services, the hunt is expected to take five days with vehicles travelling at 50km/h.

Radiation services specialists and detection and imaging equipment are also being sent to WA by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation.

Rio Tinto has apologised and ordered an investigation into what went wrong during the haul, which was carried out by a contractor.

Emergency Services Minister Stephen Dawson flagged the WA government was likely to also probe the incident.

“How these are transported does need to be looked at,” he told ABC radio.

“It does puzzle me how such a thing can fall off the back of a truck.”

Rio said a bolt that secured the capsule within the gauge appeared to have sheared off, creating a hole just big enough for the item to escape.

The truck arrived in the Perth suburb of Malaga on January 16 but it wasn’t until nine days later that a technician realised the capsule was missing.

The capsule is smaller than a 10 cent coin but the amount of radiation it emits is equivalent to receiving 10 X-rays in an hour.

Drivers have been warned it could have become lodged in their car’s tyres.


January 31, 2023 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, incidents | Leave a comment

Missing radioactive capsule: Western Australia officials admit it was weeks before anyone realised it was lost

Fire and Emergency Services official says capsule left Rio Tinto mine site on 10 January but was not found missing for 15 days

Guardian, Mostafa Rachwani, 28 Jan 23

Western Australian authorities are scrambling to find a missing radioactive capsule that is a fraction of the size of a 10c coin, conceding it was not found missing until more than two weeks after it left a Rio Tinto mine site.

The 8mm by 6mm capsule is a 19-gigabecquerel caesium 137 ceramic source, commonly used in radiation gauges, and was supposed to be contained in a secure device which had been “damaged” on a truck which travelled from the mine site north of Newman in the Pilbara to a depot in Perth.

Authorities are now searching along the 1,400km stretch of the Great Northern Highway for the capsule, which they warn can cause skin burns, radiation sickness and cancer.

At a news conference on Saturday, Darryl Ray, the acting superintendent for Western Australia’s Department of Fire and Emergency Services, said authorities were largely searching for the capsule at “strategic sites”.

He said an incident management team including the Department of Health and police had been formed.

“We have continued the search on strategic sites along the route that the vehicle had taken, concentrating on sites close to high-population areas within the metropolitan suburbs,” he said. “The search involves the use of radiation survey meters to detect the radiation levels which will help us locate the small device.

“What we are not doing is trying to find a tiny little device by eyesight. We are using the radiation detectors to locate the gamma rays, using the meters, that will help us then locate the small device.

“We have secured the GPS data from the trucking company to determine the exact route and stops that the vehicle has taken on its journey.

“We will continue to use specialist equipment to help us search the remaining known locations … in particular, the Great Northern Highway between Perth and Newman.”

The WA chief health officer, Andrew Robertson, said there were screws missing from the protective gauge holding the capsule when it was discovered missing.

“These gauges are designed to be robust and to be used in industrial settings where they may be exposed to weather and vibration, so it is unusual for a gauge to come apart like this one has,” Robertson said.

“We are conducting an investigation on all of the circumstances from when it was originally transported from the mine site, the whole of the transport route, and then its handling on arrival in Perth.”

Robertson urged anyone who found the capsule not to handle it.

“People could end up developing redness of the skin and eventually burns of the skin from the beta radiation,” he said. “If it were kept long enough and they were exposed long enough, they could also have some acute effects, including impacts on their immune system and the gastrointestinal system.”

Robertson said the capsule was “most dangerous if it is handled or if it is close to the body”.

“If you are further than five metres away from the source, certainly if you are more than 20 metres away from the source, it will pose no danger to you,” he said. “If it is closer than that, and we strongly discourage people from picking it up, certainly don’t put it in your pocket or put it in your car, don’t put it on your sideboard, it will continue to radiate.

“While you may not have immediate health effects, they can occur relatively rapidly over a short period of time if it is close to the body………………

Robertson said officials did not know the date the capsule fell off the truck.

Ray said the capsule was placed on to the pallet on 10 January at the mine site, transited and arrived at the radiation service company in Malaga on 16 January.

“It was not until the 25th, late morning, when they opened it up to reveal that the device had fallen apart, was damaged in transit, and that the actual capsule was discovered missing, which is when authorities were first notified.” ………… more

January 29, 2023 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, incidents | Leave a comment

Kramatorsk radiological accident,rate%20of%201800%20R%2Fyear.

The Kramatorsk radiological accident was a radiation accident that happened in Kramatorsk, in the Ukrainian SSR from 1980 to 1989. A small capsule containing highly radioactive caesium-137 was found inside the concrete wall of an apartment building, with a surface gamma radiation exposure dose rate of 1800 R/year.[1] The capsule was detected only after residents requested that the level of radiation in the apartment be measured by a health physicist.[1]

The capsule was originally part of a radiation level gauge and was lost in the Karansky quarry in the late 1970s. The search for the capsule was unsuccessful and ended after a week. The gravel from the quarry was used in construction.[2] The caesium capsule ended up in the concrete panel of apartment 85 of building 7 on Mariyi Pryimachenk Street (at the time under the Soviet name Gvardeytsiv Kantemirovtsiv), between apartments 85 and 52.[1]

Over nine years, two families lived in apartment 85.[1] A child’s bed was located directly next to the wall containing the capsule.[1] The apartment was fully settled in 1980. A year later, an 18-year-old woman who lived there suddenly died. In 1982, her 16-year-old brother followed, and then their mother. Even after that the flat did not attract much public attention, despite the fact that the residents all died from leukemia. Doctors were unable to determine root-cause of illness and explained the diagnosis by poor heredity. A new family moved into the apartment, and their son died from leukemia as well. His father managed to start a detailed investigation, during which the vial was found in the wall in 1989.

By the time the capsule was discovered, four residents of the building had died from it and 17 more had received varying doses of radiation.[2] Part of the wall was removed and sent to the Institute for Nuclear Research, where the caesium capsule was removed, identified by serial number and disposed of.[1]

January 29, 2023 Posted by | incidents, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Urgent public health warning issued over lost radioactive capsule in Western Australia

“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,” .

“And if you have it long enough near you, it could cause acute radiation sickness.

DFES have issued a warning for people to stay at least five metres away from it if they see something that resembles the capsule. By Cason Ho 28 Jan 23

A missing radioactive capsule lost somewhere between Perth and a Pilbara mine site over an area of 1,400 kilometres has sparked an urgent health warning.

Key points:

  • A capsule containing a radioactive substance has been lost
  • The capsule is 6mm in diameter and 8mm wide
  • People are being urged not to get close to the capsule

In an emergency press conference on Friday afternoon, WA’s chief health officer urged people to stay away from the capsule if they see it because of its radioactive properties.

The capsule is tiny – 6mm diameter by 8mm high.

The radioactive gauges are commonly used in mining. It went missing from a truck sometime after January 10.

WA radioactive substance risk alert

The radioactive capsule could be anywhere along the more than 1,400 km journey between Malaga, in Perth and Newman in WA’s remote north

Any motorists who have travelled along the Great Northern Highway between Newman and Perth since January 10 should check their tyres, in case the capsule has become lodged in them.

Chief Health Officer Andy Robertson said the capsule was lost while it was being transported, somewhere between a mine site north of Newman and Malaga, north east of Perth. 

It is believed the capsule fell through the gap left by a bolt hole, after the bolt was dislodged when a container collapsed as a result of vibrations during the trip.

Authorities are searching Great Northern Highway in a desperate effort to find the capsule, which is smaller than a 10-cent piece.

DFES said the capsule “cannot be weaponised” but are still urging caution due to potentially serious health consequences.

Radiation equivalent to 10 X-rays an hour

Mr Robertson said it does emit a “reasonable” amount of radiation.

He says the radiation emitted is equivalent to receiving 10 X-rays in one hour, if you were within one metre of it, or the amount of natural radiation a body is exposed to over a year.

The half-life of the substance is 30 years. 

“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,” he said.

“And if you have it long enough near you, it could cause acute radiation sickness.

“Now that will take a period of time but obviously we are recommending people not be close to it or hang on to it.”

Mr Robertson advised anyone who finds the capsule not to go near it, and to rather call DFES on 133 337.

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services is leading search efforts, coordinating a team involving the Department of Health, WA Police, and other subject matter experts.

DFES Country North chief superintendent David Gill said there would be “challenges” in locating such a small object.

“The start and finish of the transportation from the mine site north of Newman, and the transport depot in Perth, are among some of the locations that are searched, and being searched yesterday, but the capsule remains unfound,” he said.

“There are challenges here. It is 1,400 kilometres between the mine site … to the north of Newman, and Perth.”

DFES have issued a warning for people to stay at least five metres away from it if they see something that resembles the capsule.

People are urged to avoid coming into contact with it, and immediately contact DFES.

January 29, 2023 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, incidents | Leave a comment

40 safety incidents with UK nuclear weapons convoys over past 3 years

The nuclear bomb convoy that regularly criss-crosses the UK by road has
logged 40 safety incidents in the last three years, according to
information released by the Ministry of Defence.

Convoy vehicles crashed
twice and got caught up in other road accidents five times. They also
suffered multiple brake faults, breakdowns and power losses. The convoy,
which carries nuclear warheads, caused the closure of roads or motorway
lanes 11 times. It was delayed by lorry fires, a spillage and two outbreaks
of Covid.

In one case the convoy had to deal with an “erratic driver
interfering with the convoy”. In another, it closed a road after a
motorist caught using a mobile phone tried to run away.

described the safety lapses as “concerning” and argued that small
incidents could easily escalate into something more serious. They said that
the risks being taken by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) were unjustified. An
SNP MP criticised the MoD for keeping the locations, dates and other
details of the incidents secret.

The Ferret 15th Jan 2023

January 16, 2023 Posted by | incidents, UK | Leave a comment

Nuclear convoys: 40 safety reports in three years

Sunday Post By Rob Edwards, January 15, 2023,

The nuclear bomb convoy that regularly crisscrosses the UK by road has logged 40 safety incidents in the last three years, according to official figures.

Convoy vehicles have crashed twice and got caught up in other road accidents five times. They have suffered multiple brake faults, breakdowns and power losses.

The convoy has also caused the closure of roads or motorway lanes 11 times and been delayed by lorry fires, a spillage and two outbreaks of Covid. In one case it had to deal with an “erratic driver interfering with the convoy” and in another it closed a road after a driver caught using a mobile phone tried to run away.

Campaigners described the safety lapses as “concerning” and argued that small incidents could easily escalate into something more serious. They said the risks being taken by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) were unjustified……

A convoy of 20 or more vehicles transports nuclear warheads between the Burghfield nuclear weapons factory in Berkshire and the Royal Navy’s armaments depot at Coulport on Loch Long in Argyll and Bute at least six times a year. The warheads require regular maintenance.

In response to a request under freedom of information, the MoD released short summary logs of incidents involving the convoy during 2019, 2020 and 2021. The dates are blacked out and no locations are given.

Of the 40 incidents, 22 are categorised as “operational” and 18 as “engineering”. One of the two crashes involving a convoy vehicle caused “minor injuries” and a delay of two hours and 45 minutes. The other was attended by the police and caused a 32-minute delay.

The Ferret news website reported in 2018 the MoD recorded 157 safety incidents involving the convoy between 2008 and 2017. The number logged in 2017 (44) was a record high…………. more

January 15, 2023 Posted by | incidents, UK | Leave a comment

Counter terror police investigate uranium package found at Heathrow airport.

A shipment of uranium discovered at Heathrow could have been part of a dry
run operation by Iranian terrorists to test the resilience of security
measures during recent Border Force strikes, a military intelligence expert
has warned.

Counter-terror police have launched an urgent investigation
after the radioactive substance was identified among a shipment of scrap
metal on board an Oman Air flight from Pakistan. The consignment – bound
for an Iranian-registered business in the UK – arrived at Heathrow on Dec
29, when Border Force staff were in the grip of an eight day walk-out.

The suspicious material, which could be used in the manufacture of a “dirty
bomb”, was detected by officials who were not on strike using
sophisticated radioactive scanning equipment.

Telegraph 11th Jan 2023

Nuclear Heathrow airport scare could be Litvinenko-style attack, claims
former general. Met Counter Terrorism Command officers raced to Heathrow
Airport Terminal 4 on December 29 after a package set off alarms over
“contaminated’ material- which turned out to be uranium

Mirror 11th Jan 2023

January 13, 2023 Posted by | incidents, UK | Leave a comment

Terror police investigate after uranium found in package at Heathrow airport

Counter-terrorism police are investigating after a small amount of
uranium was detected in a package at Heathrow airport. Border Force
officers identified the parcel coming into the UK during a routine
screening on December 29.

There are strict rules around handling of the
nuclear fuel, which can be used in so-called “dirty bombs”, designed to
scatter radioactive material. The Met said its Counter Terrorism Command
was contacted in December after a “very small amount of contaminated
material” was identified.

Commander Richard Smith said there is no risk
to the public over the incident. “I want to reassure the public that the
amount of contaminated material was extremely small and has been assessed
by experts as posing no threat to the public,” he said. “Although our
investigation remains ongoing, from our inquiries so far, it does not
appear to be linked to any direct threat. As the public would expect,
however, we will continue to follow up on all available lines of inquiry to
ensure this is definitely the case.”

 Telegraph 10th Jan 2023

 Dirty bomb fears as ‘several kilos of URANIUM’ is found in cargo at
Package ‘shipped from Pakistan to UK-based Iranians’ is at centre
of Met Police anti-terror probe after being discovered when it triggered
airport alarms.

 Daily Mail 10th Jan 2023

January 12, 2023 Posted by | incidents, UK | Leave a comment

US Nuclear Bomber Erupts In Flames After Emergency Landing; US Air Force Confirms Mishap With B-2 Spirit Dangwal, December 12, 2022

On December 10, a USAF B-2 Spirit stealth bomber made an emergency landing due to an in-flight emergency at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri.

The incident occurred at Whiteman AFB in Missouri, which serves as the primary base for the fleet of only 20 B-2s currently operating. The news first appeared on the internet and was subsequently verified by the US Air Force. 

A fire broke out following the landing. However, the damage suffered by the aircraft is still unclear. A base spokesperson confirmed that Whiteman’s fire department suppressed the flames. 

The 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs office said, “A US Air Force B-2 Spirit experienced an in-flight malfunction during routine operations today and was damaged on the runway at Whiteman Air Force Base after it completed an emergency landing.”

Meanwhile, Whiteman Airbase recently released a video displaying the readiness of the B-2 bomber fleet. A few weeks ago, the Air Force also published images of an unprecedented “elephant walk” of eight B-2s taxiing on the runway.

The latest incident looks to be similar to a B-2 emergency landing that took place at the same base in September 2021. The B-2 involved in that incident had its left wing down on the ground after skidding off the runway during an emergency landing.

December 13, 2022 Posted by | incidents, USA | Leave a comment

Shelling of Zaporizhzhia is playing with fire, says UN nuclear chief, as blasts reported

Explosions cause damage at Ukrainian power plant, as Kyiv says it will investigate videos allegedly of surrendering Russians being shot

Guardian, Jennifer Rankin, Mon 21 Nov 2022

The UN nuclear energy watchdog has said the forces behind the shelling of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia power plant are “playing with fire”, after a series of explosions shook the facility.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has experts based at Zaporizhzhia, reported on Sunday that powerful explosions had shaken the area on Saturday night and Sunday. It said its on-site experts saw some of the explosions from their windows.

It reported more than a dozen blasts from apparent shelling, with damage to some buildings, systems and equipment, but “none so far critical for nuclear safety”.

The head of the IAEA, Rafael Grossi, said the news was extremely disturbing and he called the explosions completely unacceptable. “Whoever is behind this, it must stop immediately. As I have said many times before, you’re playing with fire,” he said.

According to the IAEA Twitter account, Grossi renewed his appeal to Ukraine and Russia to agree and implement a nuclear safety and security zone around the plant as soon as possible.

Zaporizhzhia, in south-east Ukraine, is Europe’s largest nuclear power station and has been under Russian control since March, although its Ukrainian staff remain in place to run the facility. It has faced repeated shelling, raising fears of a nuclear disaster. Moscow and Kyiv have blamed each other for the attacks.

The plant’s six Soviet-designed water-cooled reactors are currently shut down, but there is a risk that nuclear fuel could overheat if the power that drives the cooling systems is shut. Shelling has frequently damaged the plant’s power supply.

Russian officials claimed that Ukrainian forces were behind the latest attacks. “They are shelling not only yesterday but also today, they are shelling even now,” an adviser to the head of Russia’s nuclear power operator Rosenergoatom, Renat Karchaa, told the Russian state news agency Tass. He said there had been 15 aerial strikes, including one that hit a storage facility.

Soon after the Russian accusations, Ukraine’s nuclear energy agency, Energoatom, said Russia was responsible for the shelling, which it said had resulted in 12 hits to Zaporizhzhia’s infrastructure. The company said on Telegram that the list of damaged equipment indicated that the attackers “targeted and disabled exactly the infrastructure that was necessary for the restart of 5th and 6th power units” and the restoration of power production for Ukrainian needs………………………………..

November 20, 2022 Posted by | incidents, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Shutdown of UKraine’s Khmelnytskyy Nuclear Power Plant due to military attacks in the region

 Ukraine’s Khmelnytskyy Nuclear Power Plant (KhNPP) lost all access to the
electricity grid yesterday due to military attacks in the country, forcing
it to temporarily rely on diesel generators for back-up power, Director
General Rafael Mariano Grossi of the International Atomic Energy Agency
(IAEA) said today, citing information he had received from Ukrainian

The KhNPP’s grid connection was completely lost at 18:35
local time on 15 November, after the site’s four operating power lines
were progressively lost over a two-and-a-half-hour period because of
missile attacks on the country’s energy infrastructure, Ukraine told the
IAEA. During this period, the plant’s two reactors were shut down,
halting their delivery of electricity to households, factories and others.

 IAEA 16th Nov 2022

November 18, 2022 Posted by | incidents | Leave a comment

A disaster waiting to happen’: British nuclear-armed sub resurfaces after fire onboard A Royal Navy nuclear-armed submarine had to abandon its mission and resurface, after a fire broke out onboard following an electrical fault. 

The Ministry of Defence said the incident on HMS Victorious happened six weeks ago. The blaze broke out in an electrical component in one of the submarine’s systems but carbon dioxide injectors built into the module extinguished it. However, all crew were scrambled to tackle the fire and look for others and the sub’s commander had to surface the vessel in the North Atlantic. After the fire was contained, Victorious returned to port at Faslane in Scotland.

Victorious is one of Britain’s four Vanguard-class nuclear-armed submarines with one vessel constantly on patrol ready to launch a nuclear strike. The MoD said the sub wasn’t on patrol during the time of the fire and was en route to the US for wargames. 

News of the incident comes after it was revealed in September that another vessel, HMS Vanguard, would remain in dry-dock for the foreseeable future after more technical issues were discovered.  Vanguard has been in deep maintenance since 2015 at a cost of £500 million. The delay has compounded problems for the Royal Navy – whose so-called “Continuous at-Sea Deterrence” is reportedly operating at half capacity. 

Meanwhile, a whistleblower told STV that staff working at Royal Naval Armaments Depot (RNAD) Coulport – the base where Britain’s nuclear weapons are stored – had to be evacuated due to a “serious radiation breach.”

CND General Secretary Kate Hudson said: “The revelations about HMS Victorious further underline the risks that these weapons present – a disaster waiting to happen. The fact that the sub had to surface and expose itself illustrates both how fallible the technology is and how baseless the myth of ‘invisibility’. The news from Coulport reinforces these concerns. Meanwhile, billions of pounds are being pumped into maintaining these vessels and warheads and billions more in developing news ones. It’s time to stop this irresponsible waste before a real tragedy occurs.”

November 9, 2022 Posted by | incidents, UK | Leave a comment

Incident at France’s Civaux nuclear reactor adds to EDFs problems of stress corrosion crackingin nuclear plants

Stress corrosion cracking: Assessing and remedying cracking problem in
nuclear plants. The full extent of stress corrosion cracking at EDF’s
reactors in France has still to be determined. Nonetheless, lower
production as plants are re-examined has come at the worst possible time
for the company.

Electricite de France SA is investigating an incident
during a test at a halted nuclear reactor last week, just as a series of
repairs jeopardize the country’s power-supply security for the coming
winter. The utility had to stop a high-pressure hydraulic test of the
primary circuit of its Civaux 1 reactor on Nov. 2 when steam was released
in a room of the reactor building. The reactor wasn’t loaded with nuclear
fuel, no one was hurt nor contaminated, and no radioactivity has been
detected outside the building, according to EDF.

The impact of the incident, which is unrelated to so-called stress-corrosion cracks that have
undermined the French nuclear giant’s reactor availability, still needs to
be assessed, Regis Clement, EDF’s deputy-head for nuclear production, said
at a news conference in Paris Tuesday.

The corrosion cracks hobbling EDF
reactors this year have put a hole in its finances and made France —
typically an exporter of power to its neighbors — a net importer. That,
combined with Russia’s dwindling gas deliveries, has contributed to a spike
in energy prices across Europe and stoked concerns of shortages in case of
a windless cold snap this winter.

Bloomberg 8th Nov 2022

November 9, 2022 Posted by | France, incidents | Leave a comment

Fire on nuclear-armed submarine

 A ROYAL Navy submarine which was fully armed with nuclear missiles was
forced to abort a highly sensitive operation after a fire broke out beneath
the waves.

NW Evening Mail 8th Nov 2022

November 9, 2022 Posted by | incidents | Leave a comment

NYT: Senior Ukrainian official confirms Ukraine orchestrated truck bomb attack on Crimean Bridge

Chris Menahan, InformationLiberation, Oct. 09, 2022,

The New York Times reported Saturday evening that a “senior Ukrainian official” corroborated Russian reports that Ukraine was behind the truck bomb attack on the Crimean bridge which killed at least three civilians.

From The New York Times, “Blast on Crimean Bridge Deals Blow to Russian War Effort in Ukraine”:

The blast and fire sent part of the 12-mile Kerch Strait Bridge tumbling into the sea and killed at least three people, according to the Russian authorities. A senior Ukrainian official corroborated Russian reports that Ukraine was behind the attack. The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of a government ban on discussing the blast, added that Ukraine’s intelligence services had orchestrated the explosion, using a bomb loaded onto a truck being driven across the bridge.

[…] It was unclear if the driver of the truck, who died in the blast, was aware there were explosives inside. In video captured by a surveillance camera on the bridge, a huge fireball is seen, seeming to consume several vehicles. A small sedan and a tractor-trailer truck driving side by side appear at the epicenter of the blast. The explosion caused two sections of the bridge to partly collapse.

The truck driver was identified by Russian media as 51-year-old Mahir Yusubov of Azerbaijan.

Yusubov reportedly received an order to transport fertilizer through the internet and may have had his truck wired with explosives by Ukrainian special-ops units who used him as an unwitting suicide bomber.…………………………… more

October 11, 2022 Posted by | incidents, secrets,lies and civil liberties, weapons and war | Leave a comment