Halliburton Loses Radioactive Rod in West Texas Desert

Thursday, September 20, 2012
(photo: Texas Department of State Health Services)

Federal law enforcement and the National Guard have been searching West Texas since September 11 when Halliburton’s natural gas drilling operation lost a seven-inch radioactive rod.


Containing americium-241/beryllium (Am-241), the rod disappeared while company three employees were transporting it between sites near Odessa and Pecos. The rods are lowered into wells to identify the best spots to break apart rock in the process known as hydraulic fracturing or fracking.


A lock on the container holding the rod is also missing. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has cleared the Halliburton workers of any suspicion that they conspired to steal the rod.


Texas National Guard units have combed a 130-mile stretch of desert looking for the missing equipment, which is stamped with a radiation warning symbol and the words: “Danger Radioactive: Do not handle. Notify civil authorities if found.” Anyone handling the radioactive rod for several days without proper protection could suffer fatal exposure, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).


An NRC official said the agency has no records of other radioactive rods going missing in the last five years.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Hunt Launched After Halliburton Loses Radioactive Rod in Texas Desert (by Rupert Neate, The Guardian)

FBI Clears Halliburton Crew in Loss of Radioactive Tool (by Kathy Warbelow and Brian Wingfield, Bloomberg)

Halliburton Seeks Missing Radioactive Probe in West Texas (Bloomberg)


Steve 11 years ago
re: It was lost in one of the wells by negligence. Highly unlikely. The survey being run (the "log") would have clearly indicated when the source was lost. And for it to be lost while in the well, the source housing would have had to open into the wellbore (while the well fluid is pressing against it to keep it closed) and then the source would have to magically unscrew about 3/4 inch of thread (the housing couldn't be closed in the first place if it wasn't screwed in all the way).
George 11 years ago
This is a no brainer. It was lost in one of the wells by negligence. The assumption of missing rod has had the blame shifted to look as if it may have been due to theft. Case Solved.

Leave a comment