Pa. officials seek missing nuclear gauge

Officials are searching for a nuclear gauge that went missing last week in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

The yellow, shoebox-sized gauge owned by Pittsburgh-based Solar Testing of Pennsylvania contains radioactive material, the state Department of Environmental Protection said Tuesday in a news release.

“As long as the device is not tampered with or damaged, it presents no hazard to public safety," DEP Bureau of Radiation Protection director David Allard said in a statement.

Solar Testing last used the gauge Friday in the Mount Lebanon area, officials said. The company is now offering a $500 reward for information leading to its return.

Environmental investigators are inspecting the facility where the equipment is usually stored and conducting interviews with management and employees in an attempt to locate the device. Police in Pittsburgh and Mount Lebanon have also joined in the hunt.

The portable nuclear density gauge is described as a Troxler model 3411B with an electronic keypad and a metal rod extending from the top surface. The gauge contains about nine millicuries of cesium-137 and 44 millicuries of americium-241, officials said.

Anyone who finds the gauge is asked to leave it alone and to report its location to the DEP at 412-442-4000, or to the state Emergency Management Agency at 717-651-2001. If the gauge appears to be damaged, anyone who finds it is advised to call 911.

Contact Alex Wigglesworth at 215-854-2305 or Follow @phila_lex on Twitter.

Contact the Breaking News Desk at 215-854-2443; Follow @phillynews on Twitter.