Texans can breathe easier: the radioactive waste Halliburton fracking surveyors lost last month has finally been found.
The United Arab Emirates-based oil services company told reporters this weekend that an oilfield worker found the rod of americium-241/beryllium alongside a highway near Pecos, Texas.
Halliburton reported it missing on September 11, and members of the Texas National Guard were ultimately called up to aid their search. Halliburton said it even deployed vehicles fitted with radiation detection equipment, but found nothing on three sweeps of the area.
“Category 3 sources, if not safely managed or securely protected, could cause permanent injury to a person who handled them, or were otherwise in contact with them, for some hours,” the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) explained. “It could possibly — although it is unlikely — be fatal to be close to this amount of unshielded radioactive material for a period of days to weeks.”
Individuals who swallow or inhale contaminated particulate matter experience a heightened risk for some types of cancer. Though the substances are relatively common in more advanced technology, including smoke detectors, the quantity misplaced by Halliburton workers was cause for serious concern.
Thankfully, the Midland County Sheriff’s Department said that an oilfield worker spotted the radioactive rod on the ground near a highway on Friday and immediately called police. The worker recognized it thanks to fliers passed out with photos of the device.
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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