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Cylinder containing radioactive isotope stolen from car in Gqeberha

Cylinder containing radioactive isotope stolen from car in Gqeberha
Gqeberha police have confirmed a cylinder housing radioactive material has been recovered after the thief tried selling it to a scrap metal dealer. (Photo: Supplied)

The isotope is safe while in the cylinder, but the police fear that someone could try to open it and sustain radiation poisoning.

The police in Nelson Mandela Bay have asked the public to help them find a cylinder containing a radioactive isotope that was stolen from a vehicle on Friday.

Police spokesperson Andre Beetge said the cylinder, containing iridium-192, was stolen from a vehicle at a guesthouse in Sydenham, Gqeberha.

Beetge said the owner of the cylinder owns a welding business and is from KwaZulu-Natal.

“Their vehicle was parked in Mulder Avenue, Sydenham while they were at a guesthouse,” he said. It is believed that the cylinder was stolen at around 6am on Friday. 

“One of the items stolen from the vehicle was a sealed container containing a radioactive isotope called iridium-192. The isotope is used by the industry to do X-ray welding inspections. While the container is still sealed it is safe, but if tampered with or opened, any person close to it can be harmed by radiation poisoning,” he said.

He asked that anyone who finds the cylinder should contact the closest police station.

“Any person that had any contact with the container should also contact the radiation protection officer at 081 391-3019 or 084 387-1383 to establish if the person sustained any harm from the exposure.”

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, external exposure to iridium-192 can cause burns, acute radiation sickness and even death. DM

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