Radioactive Truck Found in Mexico

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Mexican officials have found a truck that was stolen at gunpoint and carrying radioactive material.


But the outlaws who decided to take the truck by force on Monday, could now die from radioactive poisoning.

The stolen vehicle carried some 40 grams of cobalt-60, a material that is used for radiotherapy in hospitals, but can be lethal if not handled properly.


The truck was heading from the border city of Tijuana to a radioactive waste disposal facility in central Mexico. But armed thieves stole the truck at a gas station in Hidalgo state, Mexican officials said.

News that the truck, and its radioactive material had gone missing unleashed a quick investigation by Mexican officials, who were concerned that the cobalt-60 could be used to make a dirty bomb.

But the truck and its container of radioactive material were secured Wednesday in a rural area of Mexico State.

The container carrying the cobalt had been emptied of its content however, and the cobalt was actually found in an empty field, about half a mile away from the truck.


This raises concerns that the truck's thieves may have come into direct contact with the radioactive stuff, perhaps not knowing what they were messing with.

"The persons who removed this material [from its container] are at a high risk of dying," said Mardonio Jimenez, a physicist with Mexico's National Commission for Nuclear Security.


Mexican officials created a security perimeter around the cobalt-60 and have sought help from international experts to remove it safely from the site.

But this load of cobalt-60 is not expected to inflict further damage to locals or the environment.


No word yet on the whereabouts of the thieves, who appear to have abandoned the truck and dragged its shipment of cobalt 60 with them for about half a mile.

Manuel Rueda is a correspondent for Fusion, covering Mexico and South America. He travels from donkey festivals, to salsa clubs to steamy places with cartel activity.

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