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ADH reports radioactive gauge stolen in Hot Springs

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(Little Rock) — The Arkansas Department of Health, Radiation Control Section received notification that a gauge containing radioactive material has been stolen from a business in Hot Springs, Arkansas.  The device contains shielding and is not dangerous if it remains intact.  However, the device could present a radiation hazard if it was damaged and the radioactive sources were exposed or removed from their sealed container.

The gauge transport case is about the size and shape of a trunk and is made of a hard, yellow plastic with handles on each end and the top (photos below).  The gauge itself is also yellow with a rectangular base and a foot-long handle on top.  Both are clearly labeled as radioactive.  The gauge and transport case weighs approximately 85 to 95 pounds.

Anyone finding this gauge should IMMEDIATELY report it to the nearest police authority or phone 1-800-633-1735 or 501-661-2173 and ask for the radiation staff duty officer.

The gauge contains approximately 8 millicuries of cesium-137 and 40 millicuries of americium-241. It is used to take moisture and density measurements by projecting radiation from the two radioactive sources into the ground and then displaying the amount of radiation reflected back to the gauge.  The gauge is described as a Troxler Electronic Laboratories Model 3440, Serial Number 15160. State police, local government officials and law enforcement agencies, the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management have also been notified.

Although the gauge poses a potential public health risk, it does not contain sufficient material to be used for any explosive device.