Don't pick it up, it may look innocuous, and it doesn't look at all dangerous, but if it looks like a metal cylinder and it's between Pecos Texas and Odessa, just leave it where it is and call 911.
We all lose things, a set of keys, our glasses, a cat or a dog. The problems range from troublesome and frustrating to just downright aggravating and even costly perhaps.
But, have you ever lost a cylinder with americium-241 and beryllium inside it? And if you did, why on earth did you have one?
As it turns out, the oil field services company Halliburton does have a reason to have such cylinders, and oddly enough, one has gone missing.
NBC, and Bloomberg report that somewhere between Pecos and Odessa Texas, that rascally little cylinder just up and disappeared somehow.
The three employees with the responsibility for keeping track of the cylinder have been questioned by the FBI, and found not to have engaged in a criminal activity of any sort. Neither the FBI, or Halliburton have yet made any comments as to the current employment status of the three employees which this reporter was able to find.
The item went missing four days ago, and yet the news is only now leaking out, (no pun intended there) to the general public. Even at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which has jurisdiction over all materials and tools containg radioactive isotopes of any sort, the latest incident reports available on the NRC website are still silent on this incident.
The Texas Department of State Health Services spokesman, Chris Van Deusen, is quoted as saying, “It’s not something that produces radiation in an extremely dangerous form,”...“But it’s best for people to stay back, 20 or 25 feet.”
Americium-241 is the same product used in smoke detectors and some medical devices. It is not considered to be an extremely hazardous product, but those traveling between Pecos and Odessa might be well advised to not pick up any seven inch long stainless steel cylinders they spot along the road.
The three workers had noticed that the lock on the containment box holding the unit was gone, as well as the cylinder, on arriving at their destination and notified Halliburton officials, who notified authorities very quickly.
There is a reward being offered for the return of the unit, by Halliburton. The unit, which is classed as a Category 3 device, is unlikely to cause any significant harm, as long as it isn't held closely for several hours continuously. The cylinder which was lost or stolen is clearly marked as a radioactive source and carries the radioactive symbol also.The most dangerous category is Cat-1.