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Australia’s Recent Radioactive Mishap: A Laughing Matter?

Happens more often than you think

Recently, Australia had a bit of a kerfuffle when they lost a radioactive capsule. People were shocked and horrified, but here’s the real shocker: radioactive material goes missing more often than you think!

In 2021 alone, there was one “orphan source” that disappeared every three days, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) keeps track of lost and found nukes and rads, and their list is a real doozy. There’s the guy in Idaho who found a radioactive gauge just chillin’ in the middle of the road, a package of radioactive material that fell off a truck and landed on a lawn (the lucky recipient got it delivered that same day!), and even a tourist who was stopped at St. Petersburg airport with a radioactive watch.


Of the almost 4,000 radioactive sources that have gone missing since 1993, 8% were taken for evil purposes, 65% were lost accidentally, and the rest? Well, who knows! But when handled properly, radioactive material is nothing to fear. But, if you happen to come into direct contact with it, you could fall very sick or even die. Just ask the people of Goiânia, Brazil who were affected by the 1987 incident where a canister of Caesium-137 (used in medical settings) was stolen, taken apart, and spilled its radioactive contents. A junkyard owner even showed it off to friends and family, resulting in dozens of people requiring medical attention and two towns being evacuated.

Why so many ?

So, why is radioactive material so prevalent in our lives? It’s simple, it’s used for a lot of things! For example, medicine uses it to treat cancer patients, for heart scans, and to diagnose diseases. And, it’s even found in household items, like smoke detectors (66 were lost in southern Ontario in 2019, according to NTI). The number of radioactive items transported every year is 15 million, so it’s a good thing they’re “closely regulated”. Although, the recent misplacement of the radioactive capsule in Australia was unacceptable.


In conclusion, next time you’re walking down the street and you see a glowing object, just remember: it could be radioactive! So, keep a safe distance and make sure to call the authorities, unless it’s a fire alarm, then go ahead and grab that snooze button.

Read the poem that i’ve created on this topic!

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Published in Living Start Writings


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