A miniscule radioactive capsule was located Wednesday in Australia, completing a painstaking search across a massive stretch of the Outback.

The pea-sized 8-millimeter-by-6-millimeter capsule fell off a truck on Jan. 10, but emergency services weren’t notified until Jan. 25. The vehicle had been traveling from a desert mine site to Perth on Australia’s west coast.

In this photo provided by Australia's Department of Fire and Emergency Services, employees search for the radioactive capsule on Saturday.

The capsule contains a material — caesium 137 ceramic source — which is often used in radiation gauges. It emits radiation equivalent to getting 10 X-rays in one hour, and prolonged exposure could cause cancer.

Searchers had to cover 870 miles of Australia’s Great Northern Highway in pursuit of the tiny object. It was located south of the mining town of Newman, about 6 feet from the side of the road.

A search team vehicle was traveling 43 miles per hour when its radiation detection equipment pinged for the missing capsule.

“This is an extraordinary result,” said Emergency Services Minister Stephen Dawson. “They have quite literally found the needle in the haystack.”

No injuries were reported, and the capsule apparently hadn’t moved, according to Australia’s top health official, Andy Robertson. It will be stored in Newman until a second attempt is made to transport it to Perth.

With News Wire Services

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