22 Jul 2012

Agencies to investigate missing nuclear density meter

8:09 am on 22 July 2012

Government agencies will scrutinise the circumstances of the theft of a radioactive instrument in Christchurch.

A nuclear density meter was in the back of a white Ford Courier ute when it was stolen from New Brighton in Christchurch on Tuesday.

The instrument, which is bigger than a tool box, is used by roading contractors to measure soil density and moisture content.

It contains two small radioactive sources inside stainless steel casing.

Police say anyone trying to use the equipment or remove the dangerous material could result in injuries, similar to burns, deep in the body.

Companies and individuals with such equipment have to adhere to certain rules.

Tony Cotterill, of ESR's National Radiation Laboratory says an investigation into what happened, separate to the police inquiry, will be held.

Mr Cotterill says it will involve the National Radiation Laboratory, ESR and Ministry of Health.

There are more than 100 nuclear density meters in the country.