By Jen Kastner
MIDLAND- The Midland Federal Bureau of Investigation is working alongside local and state officials in the hunt for the seven inch radioactive rod that's been missing in the Basin for more than a week.
Local law enforcement and even a realm of the Texas National Guard have been searching for it. So far, no luck. The Texas Department of State Health Services says the Texas National Guard decided to end its search on Sunday. Local officials, however, are still looking for it.
The Midland FBI office says they got involved because the rod could be used for harmful purposes, if it gets into the wrong hands.
Midland FBI Special Agent Lamar Pruit says, "That was one of the biggest concerns that we had- [that] if it was indeed stolen, then, for what?"
Also, there's the public safety factor.
"We just didn't want somebody walking along or driving along and they have a flat tire and see this and pocket it and then have some kind of exposure," she said.
The FBI confirms that their agents now believe the rod disappearance was probably an accident.
"We were also involved in some interviews with Halliburton employees to try to determine whether it was just lost and that appears to have been the case," Pruit said.
This type of rod is used down in the oil wells. Last Tuesday, a Halliburton crew at a site in Southern Reeves County says they loaded it onto a truck. That truck then drove through Midland County on its way to Upton County. Once in Upton County, a crew claimed that the case it should have been inside of was not locked and the rod was missing.
The disappearance raised the question of whether or not this rod could accidentally end up in one of our local scrap metal yards and get broken apart. The Midland County Sheriff's Department tells NewsWest 9 that once they were notified it was missing, their deputies immediately contacted all the area scrap metal yards to warn them of the disappearance.
The rod has the words "danger radioactive" and "do not handle" stamped onto it.
If this rod is never found, how long will it stay radioactive for? We're told it has a half-life of 483 years, which means that in 483 years, it will retain half the life it has now. Basically, it will be around for a very long time.
The device isn't dangerous when just quickly touched, but if you hold it in your bare hands or a pocket for awhile, it has the potential to make you extremely sick.
If you find this rod, you're asked to stay at least 25 feet away and immediately call authorities.
Midland FBI: (432) 570-0255
Midland Police Department: (432) 685-7108