Radioactive materials are an important part of cancer treatments. Recently, a truck carrying radioactive material from such medical treatment was stolen by armed men.
Apparently, the radioactive material had been picked from a hospital in Mexican city of Tijuana and was headed for a waste storage center. It was carried in a 2.5-tonne Volkswagen Worker and was on its way to the storage center when armed men intercepted it near Mexico City and took it away.
According to the country’s National Security Commission, the cobalt-60 radioactive material which was carried by the truck was properly shielded and safe to carry. However the commission further stated that if the shielding was removed or damaged in any way, this could pose significant danger to the persons nearby.
Radioactive materials are often a favorite among terrorist groups as well as other criminal organizations, primarily because they sell well in the black market. In the case of cobalt-60, it can be used to create a dirty bomb which can wreck radioactive havoc over a significant portion of the population.
Announcing the incident, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) stated, “At the time the truck was stolen, the [radioactive] source was properly shielded. However, the source could be extremely dangerous to a person if removed from the shielding, or if it was damaged.”
The Mexican police has also issued warnings to the public, citing the potential dangers of the radioactive material and stating that it is actively seeking out the truck carrying it.
Update: Fresh reports suggest that the truck has been found by the Mexican police, with the radioactive material dumped nearby. Apparently, whoever stole the truck was entirely unaware of its contents, removing any possibility of a terrorist act.