Radioactive oilfield equipment goes missing in Texas

The loss of any oilfield equipment could be extremely dangerous

Oilfield producers must always ensure that they are using their tools correctly and that they are taking proper actions to mitigate any safety issues that could arise from misuse. Companies using potentially hazardous oilfield equipment have an even greater amount of pressure on them to preserve their tools and the safety of the surrounding area.

In Texas, a seven-inch stainless steel cylinder is missing and, according to a statement from the Texas Department of State Health Services, the device is considered extremely dangerous. The cylinder contains radioactive Americium-241/Beryllium and, as long as it remains missing, could be putting the public at risk for radiation poisoning.

According to the Associated Press, an oilfield crew had thought it was transporting the cylinder from a well outside of Pecos, Texas to another well south of Odessa – a roughly 80 mile trip through Midland County. The cylinder had been secured inside a shielded case, but when the crew arrived at the second well the workers found that the case had been inadvertently unlocked and the cylinder had fallen out.

The search for the missing cylinder began immediately, but as of Thursday it had not been found. The Midland County sheriff's office released a statement warning citizens to use extreme caution as the cylinder had made conditions unsafe.

"Over a period of time, it can conduct a radioactivity and you can get radioactive burns," said Sheriff Gary Painter. "You may have radioactive poison and hospitalization. Those are things that we are trying to avoid."

This incident illustrates the importance of using proper equipment on the oil field. Working with an oilfield technologies provider can help companies attain the proper solutions they need to oversee a successful and safe extraction procedure.