National Guard Stepping in to Help Search for Hazardous Radioactive Device

By Jen Kastner
NewsWest 9

PERIMAN BASIN- A hazardous piece of radioactive equipment used in the oilfield has gone missing somewhere between three West Texas Counties. The device disappeared on Tuesday. On Thursday, the Texas National Guard stepped in to help search for it.

The silver radioactive rod is only seven inches long but has the potential to be very dangerous.

Midland County Sheriff Gary Painter tells NewsWest 9, "the fact that it's missing is extremely disturbing. The fact that it can go missing is even more disturbing."

Rods like the one that went missing are used down in well bores to take pictures for measurements.

On Tuesday, a Halliburton crew at a site in Southern Reeves County says they loaded the rod onto one of their trucks. That truck reportedly drove through Midland County on its way to Upton County. Once it arrived in Upton County, a crew claimed that the shielding case that should have been holding it was not locked and the rod was missing.

On Wednesday, law enforcement was called out to help search for the device. It's not dangerous when only touched, but if you hold it in you're bare hands or a pocket for awhile, you're putting yourself at serious risk.

"If they keep it around them for more than two days, they're going to be extremely sick. The radiation will cause your body to start deteriorating," Painter said.

NewsWest 9 was informed on Thursday that a special unit with the Texas National Guard is now stepping in to hunt for the rod.

The Texas Department of State Health Services' Press Officer, Chris Van Deusen, described the special unit as, "It was put together to respond to potential terrorist activity and weapons of mass destruction so they have some expertise in dealing with radioactive material."

The rod has the words "danger radioactive" and "do not handle" stamped onto it. Anyone who sees it should stay at least 25 feet away and immediately call authorities.

Law enforcement tells NewsWest 9 that so far, they don't believe this rod poses any risk to our groundwater supply.