Truck Carrying Radioactive Material Stolen in Mexico

Theft of cobalt-60 prompts fears of a dirty bomb

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 4, 2013 7:43 AM CST

(Newser) – A truck laden with "dangerous" radioactive material used to fight cancer was stolen on Monday near Mexico City, says the International Atomic Energy Agency, per the BBC. "At the time the truck was stolen, the source was properly shielded. However, the source could be extremely dangerous to a person if removed from the shielding, or if it was damaged," the UN agency says. The truck was carrying cobalt-60, which the IAEA director has warned could be used in a dirty bomb.

The white Volkswagen Worker was ferrying the cobalt-60 between a Tijuana hospital and a radioactive waste storage site when armed men stole it; the theft occurred at a gas station in Tepojaco. Mexican and US officials are on the case, ABC News reports, and the IAEA is offering help. A dirty bomb would cause fewer fatalities than a nuclear bomb, but it could prompt "mass panic, as well as serious economic and environmental consequences." The IAEA gets more than 100 reports per year regarding similar thefts or illegal use of nuclear and radioactive material, Reuters notes.

A truck hauling medical radioactive materials has been stolen in Mexico, the IAEA says.
A truck hauling medical radioactive materials has been stolen in Mexico, the IAEA says.   (Shutterstock)
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