Stolen cobalt-60 source recovered in Mexico

Wednesday: Authorities in Mexico located a stolen truck and the medical equipment it contained, amid growing fears that the radioactive cargo could become ingredients of an illicit “dirty bomb,” according to the Associated Press.

Initial reports late in the afternoon were that the vehicle had been found empty, but the missing cobalt-60 was soon discovered less than a mile away, just outside Mexico City.

The materials — waste from a cancer-treatment center — on Monday were en route to a disposal site near Tijuana when the vehicle was purloined from a gas station, according to news reports.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said the cobalt-60 “could be extremely dangerous to a person if removed from the shielding, or if it was damaged.” The threat could be seriously heightened if the materials were packaged with conventional explosives into a dirty bomb. Direct contact with the radioactive isotope could cause death within minutes.

Mexican authorities said the confiscated materials posed no danger, but radioactivity was discovered near a Hueypoxtla, a farming village with roughly 4,000 residents.

It was unclear whether any suspects had been identified, but Eibenschutz said there were no indications that the culprits had specifically sought out the radioactive material. Rather, the 2007 Volkswagen cargo truck seemed to be a more likely focus of the theft.

The full story can be found on the NTI website