By Jen Kastner
MIDLAND- The seven inch long radioactive rod that disappeared in the basin a few weeks ago and created huge headaches for law enforcement has finally been found. It was thought to be somewhere within three West Texas counties. On Thursday night, it was discovered not far from the rig where it was last seen in Reeves County.
Midland County Sheriff Gary Painter says, "I am very relieved. I got the call yesterday evening and I had a good night of sleep."
Since September 11, the tiny rod sent law enforcement into full force search-mode. So much so, that the National Guard even stepped in. The FBI also got involved, in part over fear that the rod may have been stolen and potentially used for harmful purposes. That thought, though, was later ruled out.
On Thursday night, an oilfield pumper in Reeves found it lying on top of the ground on a lease road just seven miles from the rig location where it was last seen.
"How it ended up on this road away from the main road? We don't know. It does not appear to have been sabotaged. It was just a just a fluke accident," Painter said.
Originally, a Halliburton crew at a site in Southern Reeves County said they loaded it onto a truck. That truck then went through Midland County on its way to Upton County. It was a crew in Upton County that claimed the case the rod should have been inside of was not locked and the rod was missing. The rod did pose a human health risk with direct exposure for a several hours.