The first rule of messing around with radioactive material is ‘don’t lose the radioactive material’.
Well folks, we have some bad news.
Authorities in Pennsylvania say they’re on the hunt for a dangerous missing portable nuclear device that contains radioactive material.
The nuclear gauge is used to check out the properties of building materials and road-bed materials, and contains approximately 8 millicuries of Cesium-137 and 40 millicuries of Americium-241. The radioactive material is in a double encapsulated source capsule within the device to protect its integrity.
Usually, it’s pretty safe to be around, but the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) says if it’s mishandled or damaged then the unlucky people closest to it could be exposed to radiation contamination.
The device belongs to a local construction company, but the vehicle it was stored inside was stolen on Friday in Philadelphia.
The vehicle was later found by police but the device was nowhere to be found.
While the device, in tact, poses no threat to those around it, officials fear it may have been damage, which will significantly increase the risk to those around it.
David Allard, director of the Bureau of Radiation Protection, said in a statement: "It is critical for anyone who has information about the lost nuclear gauge to contact local authorities or DEP.
"As long as the device is not tampered with or damaged, it presents no hazard to public safety."
The nuclear density gauge is a Troxler Model 3440, serial number 31109. The gauge is yellow in color and about the size of a shoe box, with an electronic keypad and a metal rod extending from the top surface.
Allard said if you spot it, stay away from it. Exposure to high levels of radiation in a short period of time can trigger reaction such as nausea and vomiting.