LONGVIEW,TX (KLTV)- A statewide alert is out to catch whoever stole a device containing radioactive material, owned by company with east Texas ties. Authorities in Austin say thieves stole a device used to x-ray pipelines. Austin authorities say the 50-pound x-ray device was stolen from a parked work truck Tuesday near a hotel along I-35.
"Right now in the preliminary investigation hasn't found any fault with the two employees they parked in front of surveillance cameras. There is video of two men breaking into the truck," says Acuren south central regional manager Gerald Northcutt.
Its sometimes called a radiography camera, its used to remotely x-ray pipelines, and contains a small radioactive capsule encased in a yellow colored protective shielding.
"This little source has enough energy to put out gamma radiation that penetrates steel, in essence its a mechanical system, a little container holding a capsule about the size of the tip of a pen containing radioactive material is in the middle of a system that uses coaxial cables to retrieve the source then send it to an exposure head, taking gamma ray images," says Letourneau engineering professor Yoni Adonyi.
The truck it was stolen from is owned by acuren inspection, incorporated, which has an office in Longview. There is a concern for public health.
"Its not something that happens immediate its an effect. But it can cause significant health problems down the road for somebody," Northcutt says.
The capsule is encased in a lead lined container, but if it were removed anyone handling the capsule could be at risk of radiation exposure.
"Its very strong radiation its half live is I think 72 years so it can be very powerful much more than medical application and because of that can cause serious damage to humans," Adonyi says.
The worry is , that whoever took it may not know how dangerous it is.
"The danger here is not knowing that after you discard it, it will continue to emit and effect cattle, population anyone who is in the neighborhood," says Adonyi.
Acuren is offering a 5-thousand dollar reward for information that leads to the return of the x-ray device. Authorities say if you find the device, do not approach it and call police immediately.