Pennsylvania Panics As It Searches For Stolen Nuclear Gauge

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is calling out for the help of the public in the finding of a now missing portable nuclear gauge that vanished in the wake of thieves taking a vehicle that has since been recovered.

As stated by the authorities, if left untouched, the device will not be able to do any harm. On the other hand though, if it is disturbed, the gauge could end up leaking radiation to anyone in its vicinity.

"It is critical for anyone who has information about the lost nuclear gauge to contact local authorities or DEP," stated David Allard, the Director of the DEP Bureau of Radiation Protection, stated as part of a press release. "As long as the device is not tampered with or damaged, it presents no hazard to public safety."

The press release highlighted that the "gauge containing sealed sources of radioactive material … belongs to KAKS and Company LLC of Harleysville, PA."

"This type of nuclear gauge is commonly used to evaluate the properties of building and road-bed materials at construction sites throughout the commonwealth," stated the press release. "The radioactive material contained within the gauge is believed to be in a safe, shielded position."

A picture of the still missing gauge was posted via Twitter by the group:

"Anyone who finds the gauge should not handle it directly, but rather maintain distance, limit time of proximity, and immediately contact local authorities or the DEP’s Southeast Regional Office at 484-250-5900," added on Pennsylvania’s DEP. "A trained individual will recover the gauge."

This is the second time in just under a year that a nuclear gauge has ended up missing throughout the Keystone State.

Back in October of 2021, local authorities went to the public with requests for help in locating another similar device after a worker from CMT Laboratories "inadvertently departed the job site without properly securing the gauge in its case." In that instance the device was safely recovered and returned.

A proper description of the missing nuclear gauge was given below:

The nuclear density gauge is a Troxler Model 3440, serial number 31109. The gauge is yellow in color and about the size of a shoe box, with an electronic keypad and a metal rod extending from the top surface. The Troxler gauge contains approximately 8 millicuries of Cesium-137 and 40 millicuries of Americium-241. The radioactive material is in a double encapsulated source capsule within the device to protect its integrity.

Officials with the EPA issued more details on what the true use of such a device actually is:

Nuclear gauges measure three main things: thickness, density, and fill level. Thickness gauges are used in manufacturing to make sure an entire product or material is the same thickness throughout, or to make sure the coating on a material is even. Density gauges are used in cement, petroleum, and road production to make sure that the density of a material is the same. Level gauges measure how much liquid is in a container, to make sure that each container has the same amount of product.


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