“Both the container and the radioactive source have been located,” said Mardonio Jimenez Rojas, an official at the commission, told Reuters. “The radioactive source was removed from its container and was found a kilometer away.” (link)
Another reason to worry about an unsecure U.S. border. It is well known that various terrorist enterprises, including Hezzbollah and al Shabbab, have franchise operations in/around Mexico. The radioactive product stolen, Cobalt-60, has the potential to become a significant element in a “dirty bomb”. Cobalt-60 is used in medical radiation treatments for cancer patients, it is the targeting radioactive element used in a gamma knife. Unprotected exposure to cobalt 60 is deadly. A massive search is underway to locate the stolen container, U.S. ports and border agencies have been put on high-alert.
VERACRUZ, Mexico – A stolen container of highly radioactive material has been found empty, Mexico’s nuclear safety director said Wednesday.
Juan Eibenschutz says radioactivity has been detected about a half mile from where the stolen truck and empty container were found in the state of Mexico.
He says authorities have cordoned off the area.
The truck was hauling extremely dangerous radioactive material from used medical equipment when it was stolen from a gas station in central Mexico, and authorities had sent out an alert in six central states and the capital to find it, Mexican officials said earlier Wednesday.
The truck was carrying a metal container of cobalt-60 headed to a nuclear waste facility in the state of Mexico, Eibenschutz said. Though the container is heavily sealed in lead, designed to be difficult to break and to survive accidents intact, he said it contains an amount of radioactive material that could do serious damage if opened.
“This is a radioactive source that is very strong,” Eibenschutz told The Associated Press on Wednesday, adding that is can be almost immediately fatal, depending on proximity. “The intensity is very big if it is broken.”
Eibenschutz didn’t know the exact weight, but that it was the largest amount stolen in recent memory, and the intensity of the material caused the alert. Local, state and federal authorities, including the military, are searching for the truck.
The material was used for obsolete radiation therapy equipment that is being replaced throughout Mexico’s public health system. It was coming from the general hospital in the northern border city of Tijuana, Eibenshutz said.
The thieves most likely wanted the white 2007 Volkswagen cargo vehicle with a moveable platform and crane. (read more)