The search for a lost industrial camera containing radioactive materials ended at 7 p.m. Thursday when the camera was located on Airline Highway roughly 2½ miles south of Intestate 10.

The Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office said the state Department of Environmental Quality is now in the process of disposing of the equipment.

A commercial truck traveling along Interstate 10 Thursday morning lost the camera between La. 30 and the St. James Parish line.

Trooper 1st Class Bryan Lee, a State Police spokesman, said the search crews retraced the GPS route of the truck and found the camera in a muddy ditch.

Searches earlier in the day did not go as far south, he said.

The incident was reported to the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said a state DEQ spokesman.

Greg Langley, DEQ press secretary, said there’s a window of four hours in such cases before the NRC must be notified. That four-hour window closed early Thursday afternoon after the search failed to turn up the camera.

Company workers at 10:30 a.m. discovered that the camera had been lost, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Deputies in patrol cars, on foot and on motorcycles searched the area along I-10 where company officials believed the camera had been lost.

Employees with Team Industrial Services, the company that lost the camera, helped with the search, said Chuck Cunningham, a manager for the company. Team Industrial Services provides a variety of inspection services for the pressurized pipe industry, including pipelines and oil and gas wells.

“The camera is called an industrial radiography exposure device. They use it for X-raying wells, things like that,” Langley said. “It does have a small nuclear source in it, but it’s sealed and it’s inside a sealed container and shielded container.”

The device is locked, Langley said.

“We recommend that if any of the public encounters something like this, just don’t touch it and call 911 immediately,” he said.

Ascension Parish Office of Homeland Security Director Rick Webre added: “It would be difficult or nearly impossible to get in (the camera case) without the key.”

He described the material in the camera as a weak source of radiation.

“As long as it stays in its container, it’s low risk,” he said.

Advocate staff reporter Danielle Maddox contributed to this report.