Halliburton avoided a potential disaster on Thursday after it found a seven-inch radioactive rod it lost in the Texas desert almost a month ago.
The US oilfield services company lost the rod, which contains americium-241/beryllium, while traveling 130 miles between oil well sites in Pecos and Odessa on September 11, reports The Guardian.
The company had been searching for the missing radioactive rod since it was lost in early September, even handing out fliers along the route to see if others could help locate it.
A spokesman for Halliburton stated that the device was finally found on Thursday night on a road seven miles from the Pecos well site, where the radioactive rod was last used.
Midland County sheriff Gary Painter added that the rod was discovered by an oilfield pumper, who recognized the device from the fliers. Involved in the search were workers for Halliburton, police officers, and also the national guard. The rod is stamped with a radiation symbol, as well as the words “Danger Radioactive: Do not handle. Notify civil authorities if found.”
The Huffington Post notes that the radioactive tool is classified as a “category 3” source of radiation, meaning that it could be fatal if it is held to a long period of time. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission stated that this is the first incident of a lost category 3 radioactive tool in the past five years.
Halliburton is no stranger to criticism over safety violations, like losing a radioactive tool. The conglomerate, which was once led by former Vice President Dick Cheney, faced heavy criticism for its role in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill after reports showed that the company provided faulty cementing when constructing the well.
Most recently, the company has also been criticized over concerns about the effects of its fracking fluid on local drinking water. The criticism prompted one executive to drink the company’s fluid to prove that its ingredients are safe.