Mexican truck with radioactive load stolen

Dec 4, 2013 Full story: FOX 4 Now

A truck carrying an extremely dangerous radioactive substance has been stolen in central Mexico, the U.N. nuclear agency said Wednesday.

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Since: Oct 08

Toronto, Canada

#1 Dec 4, 2013
A truck carrying an extremely dangerous radioactive substance has been stolen in central Mexico, the U.N. nuclear agency said Wednesday.

A cargo truck hauling used medical equipment with extremely dangerous radioactive material was stolen from a gas station in central Mexico, and authorities have put out an alert in six central states and the capital to find it, Mexican and UN nuclear officials said Wednesday.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said the truck was carrying cobalt-60.

The equipment for radiation therapy belonged to Mexico's public health agency and was no longer in use, said Ricardo Maza, a civil protection official in Veracruz state, where one of the alerts was issued. The capsule of the radioactive material was sealed in lead, he added.

Maza said the thieves most likely wanted the truck and didn't know what it was carrying. The equipment was being transferred to a storage centre for radioactive waste when the truck was stolen.

The material was properly shielded and posed no risk as long as its container is not fractured or otherwise altered, the National Commission for Nuclear Safety and Safeguards of Mexico's Secretary of Energy said in a statement. But the commission urged whoever has it in their possession not to open or damage it because it could pose a severe health risk, and to return the material immediately.

Experts describe the threat of a crude fissile nuclear bomb, which is technically difficult to manufacture and requires hard-to-obtain bomb-grade uranium or plutonium, as a "low probability, high consequence act" unlikely but with the potential to cause large-scale harm to life and property.

But a "dirty bomb" is seen as a "high probability, low consequence act" with more potential to terrorize than cause large loss of life.

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