The National Guard has been asked by Halliburton Co. to help in the hunt for a seven inch radioactive rod used in the drilling of natural gas wells, after they lost the device earlier this week somewhere in a 130 mile stretch of south western Texas, between Pecos, and Odessa.
On the 11th of September Halliburton found that the rod was missing when workers discovered that a lock on the container used to transport it was missing, along with the rod inside. Trucks were sent out to retrace the route of the vehicle that was carrying the unit before it was lost, but have had no luck. Halliburton say that the National Guard have the equipment to locate the radioactive item more quickly. (More from Oilprice.com: Why Electric Cars Don’t have a Future)
Companies use radioactive rods similar to this one when drilling wells for fracking. The rods are lowered into the well to allow workers to identify places where the rock must be broken apart by the process of hydraulic fracking.
Such rods are lost from time to time, but it has been over five years since the loss of a device has been reported to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
This rod contains americium-241/beryllium which Chris Van Deusen, a spokesman from the health department has assured is “not something that produces radiation in an extremely dangerous form. But it’s best for people to stay back, 20 or 25 feet.” The rod would have to be in someone’s physical possession for several hours before it could be considered dangerous. (More from Oilprice.com: 6 Things to do with Nuclear Waste: None of them Ideal)
Halliburton have described the rod as a seven inch stainless steel cylinder about an inch in diameter, marked with the radiation warning symbol and the words ‘Do Not Handle’.