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Radioactive Tool Goes Missing In Texas

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the where'd-I-put-that? dept.

Security 163

Hugh Pickens writes "Oil-field service companies lower radioactive units into wells to let workers identify places to break apart rock for a drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which frees oil and natural gas. Now Bloomberg reports that Halliburton workers have discovered that a lock on the container used to transport one such device has gone missing, along with the unit, after employees drove a truck from a site near Peco to a well south of Odessa and while the loss of radioactive rods occurs from time to time, it has been years since a device with americium-241/beryllium, the material in Halliburton's device, was misplaced in Texas. NRC spokeswoman Maureen Conley says the material would have to be in someone's physical possession for several hours for it to be considered harmful as teams comb the route between the two wellsites searching for the seven-inch tube, which is clearly marked with the words 'DANGER RADIOACTIVE' as well as a radiation warning symbol, "Halliburton strongly cautions members of the public that if they locate this source, they should not touch or handle it, stay a minimum of 25 feet away," and contact local law enforcement or the company's emergency hotline if they find the cylinder, says the company which is also offering a reward for information about the tube's whereabouts."

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163 comments

"I'll offer you $50 for it" (5, Funny)

grumling (94709) | about 2 years ago | (#41361329)

Looking forward to seeing what the experts think it's worth on next week's Pawn Stars.

Re:"I'll offer you $50 for it" (1)

dontclapthrowmoney (1534613) | about 2 years ago | (#41361431)

I came here to make a porn movie joke which is the first thing I thought of when I read "radioactive tool", sadly... "I'm a bad bad Mormon" style.

I figure with your pawn reference and sig that you've beaten me to it.

Not just hydrofrac... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41361345)

Such tools are routinely use to estimate density in pretty much all oilfield well logging.

Re:Not just hydrofrac... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41361793)

That Make I sense Statemen is high Rank

Re:Not just hydrofrac... (5, Interesting)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | about 2 years ago | (#41362521)

Around 1990 I was working at an oilfield testing company that had the grown kid of the original company owner at the helm. The guy was a moron and didn't care how the company functioned as long as the money kept coming in for him to go play the horses at a local racetrack.

Anyway, the field guys lost a radioactive source and couldn't find it. They thought it bounced out of an unsecured lead canister along a road somewhere.

They got their hand slapped for it but somewhere in the midwest there is a hot source laying by the road. Or was. Who knows if anyone ever found it.

These kinds of things are inexcusable because anyone who happens to find one and pick it up has their life changed. Cancer and death awaits if anyone spends any length of time with one of those sources. If a company cannot follow a checklist for handling one of those sources, they should not be allowed to use them.

Re:Not just hydrofrac... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41362561)

Yes. It's not peculiar to hydraulic fracturing operations. It's usually used to measure the density (kg/m^3) and porosity (essentially space that can be occupied by water, oil, or gas between the mineral grains). It's one of the key tools to estimate the volume of oil and/or gas in a formation of rock for ALL wells. It's usually referred to as a neutron porosity tool [wikipedia.org] and the resulting measurements are neutron logs. The security surrounding these tools is usually pretty thorough, given that they are strong neutron sources.

Thoughts (5, Funny)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | about 2 years ago | (#41361349)

If the finder does not contact law enforcement, then I feel this issue is best left up to natural selection. First to nominate for a Darwin award.

Re:Thoughts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41361575)

I'm thinking more sinister....

Dispersing the Americium all over the place would be a bad thing for people. There's a reason they're telling you to get back a bit of a distance.

Re:Thoughts (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41362439)

I'm thinking more sinister....

Dispersing the Americium all over the place would be a bad thing for people. There's a reason they're telling you to get back a bit of a distance.

I couldn't find any estimated dosage you get for staying close to this device but I suspect that as long as you keep it 25 feet away you will keep you below the IAEA recommendation of 1 mSv/year. Staying a bit closer to it will bring you up to 3 mSv/year, this is the dosage you will get if you stay in Sweden or Finland. (A lot of granite in that area.)
Storing this device in your tool shed is not likely to be dangerous to your health. Storing it in you bedroom and using it as a sex toy might be.

Re:Thoughts (2)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 2 years ago | (#41363207)

Radiation follows the usual inverse-square law. You can't render a large area dangerous with a point source, unless it's something crazy-radioactive like an unshielded nuclear reactor. If it were spread over a large area it could be more dangerous - even if the radiation itsself is of a very low level, radiation is scary, and could easily cause a panic.

Re:Thoughts (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41362821)

Face facts...Halliburton probably sold the radioactive unit to the terrorists and a re now in the midst of a cover-up or a "blame some low-level field hand." I nominate Halliburton executives for the Death by Fire Ants Punishment - ahem I mean Award. I'll volunteer to pour honey all over the naked body of Dick Cheney and watch as the fire ants remove that scumbag from the the planet.

Re:Thoughts (1)

wed128 (722152) | about 2 years ago | (#41363505)

Face facts...Halliburton probably sold the radioactive unit to the terrorists and a re now in the midst of a cover-up or a "blame some low-level field hand."

Facts...if by facts you mean paranoid rambling...

Re:Thoughts (4, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#41361651)

If the finder does not contact law enforcement, then I feel this issue is best left up to natural selection. First to nominate for a Darwin award.

Depending on exactly how the source is encapulated, it may well not work out so neatly. If mechanically damaged, Americium-241 could come out to play and get all over the place, including friends, family, and general passers-by who hardly did anything to deserve an award...

This thing isn't exactly an unalterable inventory item that just happens to do 1d6 radiation damage every hour it remains in a character's inventory.

Re:Thoughts (3, Funny)

Greyfox (87712) | about 2 years ago | (#41362213)

Yeah! It's at least 2d20 area effect, unless you make the saving throw against radiation!

Re:Thoughts (2)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 2 years ago | (#41362669)

No one said natural selection was fair. Just ask all those dinosaurs whose only fault was adapting well to a time before the comet hit. Or all those other organisms we're driving to extinction now, who are well adapted to a world without humans.

Anyway, the darwin awards were always a joke. It started well after Eldrege and Gould came out with punctuated equalibrium: the founders of the Darwin Awards were probably aware that natural selection doesn't work like that, with individual animals taking themselves out of the gene pool. Stupid is usually preferred evolutionarily speaking anyway. Bacteria are winning at evolution. It's not even close.

Re:Thoughts (1)

wed128 (722152) | about 2 years ago | (#41363543)

Stupid is usually preferred evolutionarily speaking anyway. Bacteria are winning at evolution. It's not even close.

Close...

Simple wins at evolution. Bacteria are the simplist solution.

Re:Thoughts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41362043)

What if it was your child? Not funny.

Re:Thoughts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41362485)

What if it was your child?

That would be a double Darwin Award. You get an extra Darwin award for every one of your offspring that you kill with your stupidity. Brothers and sisters of breeding age count as half and nephews and nieces count as a quarter (unless they have another Darwin Award winner in the family which makes the math a little more complicated).

Re:More Thoughts (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41363017)

There is a slim chance that the device was left behind at the last well-head where it was used. That would explain both the radioactive source and the container padlock being missing. More distressing is the prospect that an outsider with ill intent wandered into the area of the well-head while the crew was on lunch break/siesta, broke into the container and stole it. That person should definitely be awarded a Darwin Award. That doesn't necessarily explain the missing padlock, as it is just something of little worth to carry off. But the most distressing prospect is that this was theft by an insider who knew the value of the device, and wished to conceal the fact that the padlock was not broken.

Regardless of whether the device was lost or stolen, the company that owned this radioactive source should be heavily fined, as well as suspended from any further ability to own/possess/use such devices. I would go so far as to propose criminal liability charges brought against this company. Err, wait. This was Halliburton. Never mind. Move along. Nothing to see here.

Would anyone care to bet against the prospect that the TSA will use this event to perform full body cavity searches everywhere they have now been deployed, far beyond the security lines at airports? I wouldn't.

Re:Thoughts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41363463)

Soon metal thieves glow in the dark and are more easily spotted.

oblig (1)

binarylarry (1338699) | about 2 years ago | (#41361365)

Great Scott!

From time to time? (5, Insightful)

djdanlib (732853) | about 2 years ago | (#41361379)

Wait. Who's saying that "the loss of radioactive rods occurs from time to time" in such a nonchalant way, like they're trying to convince the readers that it's no big deal? It's a big deal. You don't just lose stuff like that.. they're transported in large, heavy packages!

Re: from time to time (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | about 2 years ago | (#41361415)

This sounds funny in a John de Lancie "Q" voice.

Re:From time to time? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41361453)

It is no big deal. *waves the jedi mind trick*

Seriously though, Halliburton's disasters must be measured on a different scale. Hell, they were involved in the Deepwater Horizon and got away with it. Do you think that a few rods of nuclear material worries them? The worst case is that they get a new government contract for building a nuclear bunker against terrorism.

Re:From time to time? (1)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | about 2 years ago | (#41362557)

It sadly does occur from time to time. You don't always have the brightest bulbs handling those things out in the field.

I used to work at a company that lost one.

I think people should go to jail if they lose a source. It's inexcusable.

Re:From time to time? (1)

sula9876 (1194819) | about 2 years ago | (#41362801)

Heh! that's a bit harsh, 43 000 dies in traffic every year and you worry over a metal rod that only kills if someone is swinging it.

Re:From time to time? (1)

BronsCon (927697) | about 2 years ago | (#41362997)

Heh! that's a bit harsh, 43 000 dies in traffic every year and you worry over a metal rod that only kills if someone is swinging it.

or standing too close to it.

Re:From time to time? (1)

sula9876 (1194819) | about 2 years ago | (#41363241)

Heh! that's a bit harsh, 43 000 dies in traffic every year and you worry over a metal rod that only kills if someone is swinging it.

or standing too close to it.

Yes distance is a factor, but besides from chewing on it it should be relatively safe ;)

Re:From time to time? (1)

BronsCon (927697) | about 2 years ago | (#41363303)

It's a neutron gun. It's designed to penetrate several meters of rock. Relatively safe? Maybe without the beryllium screen.

Re:From time to time? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41363081)

Reminds me of the whole "Broken Arrow" thing... the guy said something along the lines of "I'm not as concerned by the fact that a nuclear weapon has gone missing, as I am by the fact that it happens often enough that there is a name for it."

Re:From time to time? (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | about 2 years ago | (#41363429)

i would think that there are entire BOOKS of codewords and such for stuff that "should not happen" just so you don't have to say "%unthinkable% has happened" in front of civilians. besides with stuff classifed and Protocol and Procedure defined you tend to panic later and act now.

Better link (5, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#41361385)

while the loss of radioactive rods occurs from time to time

This is a better link

http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/event-status/event/ [nrc.gov]

Its pretty interesting reading. I think I heard about it from RISKS digest maybe a decade ago. About a half dozen reports are filed every day. At least one will be interesting, or at least WTF worthy. The story about the weld radiographer getting the source stuck while he was up a ladder so he took the source out and wore it like a necklace as he went down the ladder a couple days ago is WTF worthy.

Re:Better link (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41362003)

Dry and up to point reports but still quite interesting to skim through. Makes me wish I could read the corresponding Japanese reports from the Fukushima Daiichi accident.

Re:Better link (1)

Magada (741361) | about 2 years ago | (#41362399)

A collection of TEPCO's correspondence with NISA can be found on rather easily on the TEPCO website.

Re:Better link (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41362525)

Particularly liking this one:

"FITNESS FOR DUTY - CONTRACT SUPERVISOR TESTED POSITIVE FOR ALCOHOL"

Maybe that's what it takes to work at a nuclear power plant in Florida...

Re:Better link (1)

Beorytis (1014777) | about 2 years ago | (#41363523)

D'oh! Quite a wide range of events there... Pu-238 pacemaker recovered from funeral home (fortunately before cremation). Y-90 microspheres administered to wrong site. (A Medical Event may indicate potential problems in a medical facility's use of radioactive materials. It does not necessarily result in harm to the patient.)

24? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41361387)

ATF: We need jack Bauer back in action ASAP!

If it wasn't the insidious company in question... (1)

Type44Q (1233630) | about 2 years ago | (#41361441)

If it wasn't the insidious company in question, I wouldn't be nearly as skeptical and suspicious that there's something deeper and far more nefarious going on here...

Re:If it wasn't the insidious company in question. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41361551)

There's really nothing nefarious you can do with these. The material in them is roughly equivalent to what you could gather from a crate of smoke detectors. Also, the "insidious" company is in charge of thousands of these devices worldwide, many of which are idle in storage at any given time, and wouldn't need to steal one of their own devices from an active well site.

Stop being brainwashed, Halliburton isn't insidious. They're a profit-seeking global oil services interest, and they've spawned/acquired some side-businesses as a result of the logistics involved in doing oil field service operations in dangerous parts of the world at mass scale (which includes KBR that does things like food catering, logistics, and yes security teams, and contracts to the US military).

If you're referring to Halliburton/KBR's no-bid contracts with the military in the past that were lambasted in the press, it's pretty simple really: on those contracts at those times, there *were* no other reasonable alternatives. There were no other US-based competitors which actually had proven experience doing the required tasks at the required scales.

Re:If it wasn't the insidious company in question. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41362607)

Go away and die, shill.

Re:If it wasn't the insidious company in question. (1)

Type44Q (1233630) | about 2 years ago | (#41362913)

Go away and die, shill.

Indeed.

Re:If it wasn't the insidious company in question. (0)

wed128 (722152) | about 2 years ago | (#41363619)

Wish i had modpoints, to get this comment out of the dump.

Major corperations are NOT insidious. They are a nesessary part of our economy.

Re:If it wasn't the insidious company in question. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41361623)

So, what're you implying?

Re:If it wasn't the insidious company in question. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41361811)

They intentionally "lost" that tool in order to make the front page of Slashdot. ;-)

I've worked with these before I think? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41361465)

I don't think the description of purpose is actually accurate. Pretty sure they're talking about a Radioactive Densometer used to measure fluid density, which is used at the surface and attached to pipes pumping fluid, and isn't lowered into a well or whatever. It's basically a section of pipe with a very small radioactive source on one side, and a detector across from it. The measured decay rate tells you the fluid density accurately (the denser the fluid, the more radiation is blocked). They're actually fairly harmless in terms of radiation levels, although it's still important to recover lost ones.

Re:I've worked with these before I think? NO (2, Informative)

DCFusor (1763438) | about 2 years ago | (#41363133)

Something consisting of Am and Be is going to be a neutron source, and be used to make the minerals exposed to it radioactive via neutron capture. Not long ago, nearly all neutron sources for this were "Active" in that they shot a beam of mixed DT against a target holding more D and T, on batteries. They're hot as hell, and like I said - make things around them radioactive. If you have this, and a gamma spectrometer down the same hole, by the resulting gamma spectrum, you can tell what's there. Am has only about a 6 mo half life, so if it's not found, it's getting weaker fast. I've made my ow such sources with the Am source from a staticmaster brush and some Be to convert the alpha hits to emitted neutrons. I use my source to test neutron detectors for my fusion device. I have to replace the Am fairly frequently to keep the source emitting enough neutrons for this - my homebrew source is very small and not a big risk to anybody - you can barely detect it against the neutrons made in cosmic ray showers. But I could be wrong too - there's not enough info to say.

Nuclear density gauges (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41361467)

The nuclear density gauges are relatively common in civil engineering.Yeah, they go missing from time to time.

How they usually go missing--some joker steals a worker's truck on a job site. The idiot doesn't realize he has taken a van with a restricted device in the back. Then a world of hurt descends on the person when they are finally caught.

The person who was in charge of the gauge finds they are in trouble for leaving the vehicle unsecured.

Oh boy! (5, Informative)

bmo (77928) | about 2 years ago | (#41361489)

This reminds me of the Goiania accident, a horrifying incident where someone stole the radiation source to a radiotherapy machine.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goi%C3%A2nia_accident [wikipedia.org]

A choice bit:

On September 24, Ivo, Devair's brother, scraped dust out of the source, taking it to his house a short distance away. There he spread some of it on the cement floor. His six-year-old daughter, Leide das Neves Ferreira, later ate a sandwich while sitting on the floor. She was also fascinated by the blue glow of the powder, and applying it to her body, showed it off to her mother. Dust from the powder fell on the sandwich she was consuming; she eventually absorbed 1.0 GBq, total dose 6.0 Gy

It glows, let's use it for makeup.

--
BMO

Re:Oh boy! (3, Informative)

lobiusmoop (305328) | about 2 years ago | (#41361537)

Reminded me more of Davd Hahn [wikipedia.org] - thought he was maybe up to his old tricks again and looking for a large amount of Americium (not from fire alarms this time though).

Re:Oh boy! (1)

dr_dank (472072) | about 2 years ago | (#41363173)

As recently as 2007, David Hahn was up to old tricks and it's literally written on his face if you see the mugshot [radjournal.com] .

Re:Oh boy! (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41361621)

Category 3 means this is maybe 1/1000 to 1/100,000 as strong as the source in Goiania, and it's a single metal rod, not a large container of powder. Very different scenario. Industrial radiography sources are ubiquitous and are lost/damaged on a regular basis with minimal consequences.

Re:Oh boy! (3, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#41361729)

TFA(to the best of my layman's understanding) suggests that this one is a stainless steel pipe with an Americum source behind a beryllium window.

If some dumbass cuts it open, or decides to look down the tube for an extended period, things will get bad; but as long as it is mechanically undisturbed it won't be a huge deal.

The Goiania incident was particularly nasty because the source was opened and Caesium chloride(started out as a dust, also readily water-soluble, for extra pollution potential...) went all over the place. Had nobody opened the source, exposure would have been trivial. Incidents like that are(part of) the reason why the graphic designers behind the nuclear trefoil attempted to come up with something that was overtly threatening looking, even to somebody who might not speak English or even be literate in their local language.

Re:Oh boy! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41362045)

Yes, if whoever has it decides to break it open that will make things worse, but still, this source is several orders of magnitude smaller than the medical source in Goiania. We're probably looking at a few giga-becquerel. Goiania was 51 tera-becquerel. On top of that, Goiania was Cs-137, which is a beta/gamma emitter. This is Am-241, an alpha emitter. As several other people have mentioned, you (hopefully) have some of it hanging from your kitchen ceiling. As long as you don't eat it or rub it in your eyes you'll be fine. Trust me. If this were a serious mess, I would be the one cleaning it up.

Re:Oh boy! Worse than that. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41363337)

FYI: While the Americium-241 radioactive source is primarily an alpha emitter (with some considerably lesser amount of gamma particles), the device makes use of a beryllium window. Beryllium is a metal that readily emits a copious quantity of gamma radiation with exposure to any radiation, including alpha radiation.

While this is not on the scale of the Fukushima Dai-ichi by any stretch of the imagination, this is hardly an insignificant NRC nuclear event. OTOH, considering the government's penchant for trivializing the radioactive fallout from Fukushima by raising the permissible dosage levels of some radioactive isotope fallout by 1000x, the government will unlikely to even penalize the company involved (especially considering that company is Halliburton).

Re:Oh boy! (1)

ch-chuck (9622) | about 2 years ago | (#41362435)

Wow, what a story. All because a guard blew off work to go see, 'Herbie Goes Bananas'.

Americium? (1)

scorp1us (235526) | about 2 years ago | (#41361583)

This is the same stuff that is used in smoke detectors. IIRC, it only emits alpha radiation which can be blocked by a sheet of paper.
I don't know about beryllium though.

Re:Americium? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41361683)

This would however not only emit alpha particles. If you send alpha praticles into the beryllium you will end up with a nice little neutron gun, or neutron howitzer ...

Just ask the Radioactive Boy Scout [wikipedia.org] , he gather smoke detectors to build just such a device. There are probably quite a few young and slightly foolish "scientists" out there who would love to find this one to experiment with.

Re:Americium is also a gamma emitter. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41361703)

Actually, Americium also emits gamma rays as well though not very much. Polonium is what is commonly used as a pure alpha emitter and can even be obtained in small quantities without a license.

Re:Americium is also a gamma emitter. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41362029)

Polonium is used in industrial applications to remove static electricity from compressed air, mostly for painting, to prevent the surface from attracting dust. However, the amount of polonium in those devices is very small, and it's capsulated in a way that is meant to make it impossible to actually extract the polonium.

Since the death of Alexander Litvinenko [wikipedia.org] from polonium poisoning, they control those sources quite well. Around here you can not get a polonium based static remover without a license. And it's not that easy to get.

It takes such an incredibly small amount of polonium to poison and kill someone.

Re:Americium is also a gamma emitter. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41362329)

We got our polonium source through a leasing option a company offered. By leasing us the source, it was still technically owned by the company, so only they needed the license. Since the half-life limited its use to a year or two anyways, it was not like we were losing much by having to return it at that point.

Re:Americium is also a gamma emitter. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41362537)

Although the amount of polonium used to kill Litvinenko was so large as to make it a very expensive and ostentatious way to kill someone. Buying that quantity of polonium would have required millions of dollars. It was pretty much a James Bond villian's technique for murder...

Re:Americium? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41361743)

The beryllium is used to convert the alpha radiation of the Americium to neutrons. These are pretty nasty sources. Typically in the tens of Curies of intensity. It should be in a shielded container, but if someone opens that they could be in a world of hurt.

Re:Americium? (1)

Magada (741361) | about 2 years ago | (#41362425)

Yes, I was rather astonished and alarmed to read the article, which basically states "don't touch it and you'll be fine".

Re:Americium? (1)

volsung (378) | about 2 years ago | (#41362565)

Yeah, you don't want to mess with neutron sources. Fast neutrons penetrate lots of materials (due to the lack of charge), much like gammas, and can produce short-lived isotopes that continue to decay after the source has been removed.

Advice to police (1)

TheGoodNamesWereGone (1844118) | about 2 years ago | (#41361643)

Stake out the metal recycling places nearby

But isn't it safe? (1)

gtirloni (1531285) | about 2 years ago | (#41361647)

"NRC spokeswoman Maureen Conley says the material would have to be in someone's physical possession for several hours for it to be considered harmful"

So there is no problem handling it for a few minutes until you bring it to the nearest Halliburton site. Then employees can take turns handling the material for less than an hour and no one will be harmed.

See, no reason for panic.. just RTFA.

, stay a minimum of 25 feet away.. (4, Interesting)

Chrisq (894406) | about 2 years ago | (#41361673)

From the picture [state.tx.us] I would say that if you get close enough to read the "Danger Radioactive" you've already got problems.

Re:, stay a minimum of 25 feet away.. (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | about 2 years ago | (#41361775)

If you read at about ten minutes a word, then sure you'll have problems.

Re:, stay a minimum of 25 feet away.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41362063)

I presume your joking, rather than incredibly stupid, but for the benefit of anyone reading:

It's normally stored in a shielded case, which is also labeled.

Yes, now that it's out of the storage case, you'd receive unacceptable exposure from handling it for prolonged periods, which is why as soon as you identify it, you back up and stay a safe distance away; the exposure in the minute it might take to approach and read it is not significant, but the next hour (if you stayed up close) would be...

Re:, stay a minimum of 25 feet away.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41363329)

Also, what's pictured isn't what they're looking for. The picture is the source, which screws into the measuring device (which also mostly shields it). Then the whole measuring device, when taken off-site, also gets locked in an outer case. They lost the whole device, not just the unscrewed source. So what they're looking for is, in fact, still mostly shielded.

Re:, stay a minimum of 25 feet away.. (1)

PPH (736903) | about 2 years ago | (#41362101)

To Texans, that's meaningless. They need Yosemite Sam with the caption 'Back Off' [amazon.com] .

Radioactive tool? It can only be... (4, Funny)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 2 years ago | (#41361719)

...Homer Simpson!

I actually want to mod myself down for that one.

Have they checked (2)

Colourspace (563895) | about 2 years ago | (#41361725)

Down the back of Homer Simpsons rad suit yet?

Joe Dirt (1)

Westwood0720 (2688917) | about 2 years ago | (#41361759)

Joe Dirt is the first thing that came into my mind.

Jihadi (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41361765)

Now islamic radical fundamentlist newtork readers of slashdot know where to go ambush trucks to get material for dirty bombs,
Only in the land of the free...

I saw the name of the company (3, Insightful)

SlippyToad (240532) | about 2 years ago | (#41361819)

Halliburton: Endangering American Lives, With Taxpayer Dollars!

God, if there were ever a corporation that needed to be dissolved in a vat of acid and the remains scattered to the far corners of the earth, Halliburton is it. They are the epitome of casual, incompetent, expensive evil.

idiot (2)

p51d007 (656414) | about 2 years ago | (#41362591)

I guess you realize that the only reason Halliburton does some of these jobs is because THEY ARE THE ONLY ONES LEFT that do it? Next time, step away from the kool-aid.

ihza (-1)

ihza (2731757) | about 2 years ago | (#41361891)

appropriate use of radioactive actually provides many advantages as one of the alternative energy
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Should only be a problem if ingested (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41361919)

Americium-241 decays mostly by alpha emission, and is near harmless as long as it is not ingested or inhaled. It's in smoke detectors.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isotopes_of_americium#Americium-241
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Americium#Isotopes

Re:Should only be a problem if ingested (1)

PPH (736903) | about 2 years ago | (#41362033)

But in California they force fed smoke detectors to lab rats. And they died.

Re:Should only be a problem if ingested (3, Funny)

jbeaupre (752124) | about 2 years ago | (#41362139)

But in California they force fed smoke detectors to lab rats. And they died.

Moral of the story: don't feed smoke detectors to rats if you value your life.

Re:Should only be a problem if ingested (1)

Greyfox (87712) | about 2 years ago | (#41362285)

Ratman! Bitten by a rat irradiated by Halliburton, he develops super rat powers! Among these are a cute wiggly nose, the ability to eat cheese (A LOT of cheese) and the ability to pop out with cancer at the drop of a hat! He spends the rest of his days hawking third-rate pizza to unsuspecting children!

Re:Should only be a problem if ingested (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 2 years ago | (#41363379)

Captain Planet already did a rat-mutated villain. Verminous Skumm. Specialist in biological warfare, and aspiring ruler of the world. Due to his extreme ugliness and residence in the sewers he is often shunned even by the other villains, but his demonstrated scientific abilities are second only to Blight.

Re:Should only be a problem if ingested (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about 2 years ago | (#41362545)

Americium-241 decays mostly by alpha emission, and is near harmless as long as it is not ingested or inhaled. It's in smoke detectors.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isotopes_of_americium#Americium-241
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Americium#Isotopes [wikipedia.org]

The bigger problem is that the Beryllium makes the Am-241 into a Neutron Source [wikipedia.org] .

Which is isn't all that great for human health [wikipedia.org]

So I still wouldn't sleep with one of these under my bed even though I have Am-241 in the smoke detector over my bed.

Conspiracy Theory, incident No. 1 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41362261)

So since this is Halliburton, I smell a rat. Maybe they were contracted by the government to 'lose' the canister on purpose. That way there could be a 'reason' to get rid of ALL nuclear material because it is obvious that we as humans are not ready to be responsible for such a dangerous threat to the entirety of humanity; regardless of of the safe, regular, daily use in civil engineering, medical treatments, and other procedures.

Bent Spear, Broken Arrow? (1)

srussia (884021) | about 2 years ago | (#41362393)

I propose a new term for this category of nuclear incident [wikipedia.org] : Lost American

Radioactivity! OMG! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41362431)

This stuff is radioactive! What is the govenment to do? It could be ter'ists out to make an atom bomb to kill us all. Where is Homeland Security when we really need them the most? We are all going to die, DHS, please save us

Re:Radioactivity! OMG! (1)

SlippyToad (240532) | about 2 years ago | (#41362583)

This stuff is radioactive! What is the govenment to do?

Obviously they hand it out to incompetent fuckwits like Halliburton.

Doc Brown took it (1)

multipartmixed (163409) | about 2 years ago | (#41362483)

What with the events in the Middle East these days, it's getting too dangerous to steal radioactive material from the Libyans.

If I remember correctly (1)

kilodelta (843627) | about 2 years ago | (#41362503)

Am-241 is an alpha emitter. It barely penetrates a sheet of paper. And it's used in virtually every smoke detector out there.

Now a seven inch rod of the stuff - yeah I can see why they'd want that one back.

Re:If I remember correctly (1)

Bugler412 (2610815) | about 2 years ago | (#41362623)

Except that the inclusion of beryllium with the Americium makes it a neutron source, which is NOT blocked by a peice of paper.

Re:If I remember correctly (1)

kilodelta (843627) | about 2 years ago | (#41362733)

Well yeah - that does change it a bit. And Beryllium in general is some fairly toxic stuff.

Re:If I remember correctly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41362781)

This is an Americium-Berrylium source. The Americium produces alpha particles which then hit the Berrylium which in turn produces large amounts of neutrons. The purpose of these sources in the oil industry is to be put down a well and penetrate several meters through the rock. The returning signal can then be used to to determine the rock composition, porosity, and whether oil, water, or gas fills the pores.

Re:If I remember correctly (2)

Alioth (221270) | about 2 years ago | (#41362985)

A seven inch rod of the stuff plus beryllium - which turns it into a neutron source - making it pretty damned dangerous (much more dangerous than a mere alpha emitter).

Physical description? (1)

Nkwe (604125) | about 2 years ago | (#41363089)

The articles reference warnings to the public to "stay back" if you see it, but don’t seem to really describe what it looks like. It has been described as a rod, so it's a cylindrical shape, but what size? Would it be similar to a pencil, hot dog, can of soda, 5 gallon paint bucket, oil barrel, what? Is it in a container? If so, what size and color? Bigger than a bread box?, etc

Homer Simpson's Collar (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41363409)

Come on, just check Homer Simpson's collar and you'll find it.

Neutron Porosity tool (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41363457)

OP doesn't know what he's talking about.

A good log suite for any well will run both a bulk density tool and a neutron porosity tool. Crossover of the neutron porosity and density porosity is the best indicator of hydrocarbons.

Logging tools are expensive. The fools who lost it are in a world of trouble w/ the boss.

Density tool uses a Cesium source.

"Radioactive" (1)

gatfirls (1315141) | about 2 years ago | (#41363565)

....Ready, set, lose your shit.

Wait, isn't this desirable? (2)

Phase Shifter (70817) | about 2 years ago | (#41363669)

It's an election year.

Aren't potentially dangerous tools supposed to be getting lost?

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