Truck Stolen: Medical Radioactive Material Missing in Mexico

posted on Dec 13 2013 by Jade Hensby

Truck Stolen: Medical Radioactive Material Missing in Mexico

A truck that was carrying medical radioactive material has been stolen in Mexico, according to the UN's nuclear watchdog.

Mexico has told the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that the truck was carrying a dangerous radioactive source, which is normally used for cancer treatments when it was stolen near the capital, Mexico City.

Mexicos Nuclear Security Commission said that at the time the theft occurred, the Cobalt-60 teletherapy source was properly shielded. However, the commission warned it could be extremely dangerous to a person if removed from the shielding, or if it was damaged. The truck, which is a Volkswagen Worker was stolen by armed men at a petrol station on the outskirts of Mexico City. According to sources, Cobalt-60 could theoretically be used in a dirty bomb- an explosive device that could spread radioactive material over a wide area- although there is no official suggestion this was the purpose of the theft.

The police in Mexico are currently conducting a search for the truck and the contents, and have issued a press release to alert the public to its potential dangers.

The IAEA did not give details on how much radioactive material was in the vehicle when it was stolen, but have offered their assistance to the Mexican authorities.

Just after a week of the event occurring, five suspects have been placed behind bars. Those who are accused of the theft were taken into custody after they were released from hospital, where they were tested for radiation poisoning, which came through as negative. Furthermore, authorities have said that the thieves may not have known they were taking a vehicle with radioactive cargo.