Stolen cobalt-60 found in Mexico; thieves may be doomed.

In the immortal words of J. Frank Parnell: "Oh... You don't wanna look in the trunk."

Mexico's public-health scare turned into a logistical hurdle Thursday as authorities sought to safely put a stolen load of radioactive material back into its container.

As officials worked on the material, federal police and soldiers formed a cordon of several hundred yards around the field in Hueypoxtla where a container of highly radioactive cobalt-60 was abandoned after it was stolen from truck drivers transporting it to a storage facility in central Mexico. [...]

The drivers of the cargo truck were sleeping at a gas station this week when gunmen assaulted them and stole their truck. Mexican nuclear safety officials said they believed the carjackers did not know what they were stealing and that they may die from exposure to the radioactive material.

The IAEA said in its statement that it "would probably be fatal to be close to this amount of unshielded radioactive material for a period in the range of a few minutes to an hour." It is unclear how long the material was handled by the carjackers or others who found it later.

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10 Responses:

  1. Pavel Lishin says:

    Hell, when I slowed down next to a semi hauling something radioactive to take some pictures, a Sheriff pulled me over about ten minutes later, demanding to know just what the hell I thought I was doing.

    But I guess that's Alabama.

  2. Trevor says:

    What happens when the Cobalt 60 source gets stolen and really broken into...

    http://www-pub.iaea.org/mtcd/publications/pdf/pub815_web.pdf

  3. Steve Allen says:

    I risk showing my age by admitting that the image of the glowing car screams to me "A Quinn Martin production".

  4. Stephen Carter says:

    Those poor dumb radioactive thieves.

    I dug the sly Ernie Kovacs reference.

  5. David Cummings says:

    Reminds me of the excellent short story PU-239 in which ignorant criminals steal plutonium without really realizing what it is.