Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Truck carrying 'extremely dangerous' radioactive material stolen in Mexico

A truck carrying "extremely dangerous" radioactive material has been stolen in Mexico, authorities said Wednesday. The vehicle was transporting radiotherapy equipment containing the radioactive isotope cobalt-60 from a hospital to a waste storage center, the International Atomic Energy Agency said.  "At the time the truck was stolen, the source was properly shielded," the IAEA said in a statement.  "However, the source could be extremely dangerous to a person if removed from the shielding, or if it was damaged." The vehicle was a 2.5-ton Volkswagen truck with an integrated crane, Mexico's National Commission of Nuclear Safety and Safeguards (CNSNS) said. The truck was stolen on Monday at a gas station in Tepojaco, near Mexico City. Mexico's federal, state, and local authorities are now involved in a widespread and coordinated hunt for the vehicle across several states, the CNSNS said. U.S. officials say it's not at all clear why it was stolen. A Homeland Security official says the U.S. Border Patrol has been notified of the stolen truck. Border crossing points are also equipped with devices that can detect the kind of radiation the stolen material would emit. The main concern of authorities is that the material in the stolen truck is dangerous to handle. In addition, it could also be used to make a radioactive dirty bomb, as could all similar materials used in medicine and industry...more

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