Teams from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) are continuing their search in Illinois and neighboring Indiana for a missing steel canister containing radioactive material.
Evansville Courier & Press reports that Fairfield, Illinois-based Wayne County Well Servicing, Inc. reported the device missing a week ago. The canister holding the radioactive material is silver, a foot tall, 14-inches in diameter, and weighs about seventy-five pounds.
“We are now using crews with radiation detection equipment to search the roads the company may have traveled to reach a job site,” said IEMAspokesman Patti Thompson. “We have pulled the company’s records to narrow the search area, but it still includes 16 counties in Illinois and two in Indiana.”
Thompson told the Press & Courier that radiation detectors have been deployed around every oil well site the company has serviced in the past several weeks, with no results.
“We have sent out notices to all area scrap yards and landfills to be on the lookout for the canister,” Thompson said. “We are still hopeful that someone will find the device and call law enforcement.”
The device is licensed by the IEMA through an agreement with the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The NRC has sent investigator to join the search because the device may have been lost across state line — in Gibson or Pike County in Indiana.
The NRC has not granted Indiana the right to license radioactive devices.
IEMA notes that so far, no action has been taken against Wayne County Well Survey, but that the decision will wait until the end of the search and the investigation.
“The company could be assessed a civil penalty of $10,000 per day,” Thompson said. “At this time, their operating license has not been suspended.”
The locked steel canister was last believed to be in a custom oil well logging truck. The container is clearly labeled on two sides as “DOT RADIOACTIVEYELLOW II,” with the radiation trefoil symbol. The inner source holder is 4-inches long and 2 inches wide and is labeled as “DANGER RADIOACTIVEMATERIAL, DO NOT HANDLE, NOTIFY CIVIL AUTHORITIES.”
IEMA urges anyone finding the device to stay away from it and contact the nearest law enforcement agency.