31 January 2023

The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) is working with the Western Australian Government to support efforts to locate a small radioactive source that was the subject of an emergency press conference last week.

The missing radioactive material was part of a portable radiation gauge used in industries such as mining. The search for the missing radioactive material is being led by the Western Australian Department of Fire and Emergency Services with assistance from state and federal government authorities. The Western Australia Radiological Council is the regulator of the missing material.

ARPANSA has sent a deployment team with specialised car-mounted and portable detection equipment to support the search of the transport route between the Pilbara region and Perth. They will be operational from 31 January.

This equipment and expertise forms part of ARPANSA’s national radiation protection and emergency response capability. The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) have also sent deployment teams of radiation services specialists, and detection and imaging equipment to assist in the search.  

As the Federal Government’s primary authority on radiation protection and nuclear safety, ARPANSA is committed to supporting efforts to locate the missing source and protect the community from the harmful effects of radiation.

Fixed and portable radiation gauges are used to measure product characteristics in mining, oil and gas, manufacturing and other industries. They generally contain a sealed radiation source and are regulated by state and territory competent authorities in accordance with national codes set by ARPANSA including the Code for the Safe Transport of Radioactive Material

ARPANSA promotes uniformity of radiation protection and nuclear safety policy and practices across jurisdictions and provides advice on radiation protection, nuclear safety and related issues.  

The Western Australian Department of Health is urging people to keep their distance and contact authorities if they think they have any information on the location of the source. 

ARPANSA will continue to provide any necessary support to WA authorities to assist their work.

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