A few days ago, the US's National Guard came face to face with a rather peculiar and unsettling request: one drilling company known as Halliburton Co. required immediate help to locate and retrieve a 7-inch (17.78 centimeters) radioactive rod which somehow got lost while workers were busy drilling natural gas wells in South Western Texas.
Apparently, this radioactive device went out of sight at some point at the beginning of the past week, yet the aforementioned company considered it futile to ask for help immediately after they noticed they had lost track of it, and instead preferred to spend some time looking for it all by themselves.
inform us that this radioactive rod, together with the container used to transport it, is “hiding” somewhere between Pecos and Odessa.
The fact that the search area stretches for about 130 miles (about 210 kilometers) is probably why Halliburton Co. eventually decided to alert the National Guard, as the latter are in possession of specialized equipment that can be used to significantly shorten the amount of time spent looking for it.
According to the same source, most companies use radioactive rods on a regular basis to help them carry on with their drilling routine, yet it has been almost five years since a device last disappeared in such a peculiar manner.
Speaking on behalf of the state's Health Department, spokesperson Chris Van Deusen wished to make it as clear as possible that, although this rod is impregnated with americium-241/beryllium, it poses no significant threats to public safety.
This is because the radiation it emits is not all that dangerous, and because one would need to handle it for several hours before negative effects would begin to manifest themselves.
However, since the rod is labeled “Do Not Handle” and also displays the radiation warning label, it is unlikely that anyone will do so.
Still, “(...) it's best for people to stay back, 20 or 25 feet (6-7.5 meters).”