HomeUS News updateDevice with sealed radioactive material missing in Texas

Device with sealed radioactive material missing in Texas

A device containing radioactive material is missing in the Houston area, and officials said Saturday they want to find it before it harms anyone.

State health service officials stated that the radiographic camera contained radioactive material “sealed within multiple layers of protection”, thus it was unlikely to pose much of a threat, unless it was widely destroyed.

“It has a radioactive symbol on the side, but if anyone were to go into the part of the capsule that has radioactive material, it’s extremely dangerous,” said Lara Anton, a spokeswoman for the Texas department. State Health Services.

“Our goal is for people to let us know if they see it so we can take it back,” he said.

A radiographic camera, containing radioactive material sealed under layers of protection, went missing in Houston.
A radiographic camera, containing radioactive material sealed under layers of protection, went missing in Houston.Texas State Department of Health Services

The device, a type of portable X-ray machine used to view hidden structures, is common in the construction and oil industries. Anton said it went missing on Thursday from a truck parked at a restaurant where employees had gone to buy lunch.

They said a search for radioactive sources within a 5-mile radius of the restaurant, just north of the city line, was unsuccessful.

“We’ve obviously already contacted pawn shops, because when this happens and someone tries to pawn it, pawn shops are on the lookout for it — and scrap metal places, Anton said.

The 53-pound device belongs to the statewide maintenance company, according to a statement from the department.

In the past, the Department of Health Services has described similar equipment as safe if it is unobstructed. It said in 2020, “The entire camera is stored in a half-inch-thick steel overpack box with radiation markings. Radiation levels outside the camera are not dangerous.”

In the spring of that year, a radiographic camera was found intact in the community of Stonewall after a contractor’s pickup board was swept away by floodwaters, according to San Antonio’s NBC affiliate KXAN.

Health experts believed that no radiation was released.

In February, a small, highly radioactive capsule that had fallen off a truck in the Australian outback was found on the side of a road as authorities scanned an area the size of California.



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