The U.N. nuclear watchdog agency based in Vienna issued a statement this morning about the theft of a truck in Mexico that contained radioactive material.
Obviously, this has generated great concern because the material, cobalt-60, could be used in a “dirty bomb” if it got into the hands of terrorists.
Here is the text of the statement by the International Atomic Energy Agency:
"Mexico has informed the IAEA's Incident and Emergency Centre (IEC) of the theft of a truck carrying a dangerous radioactive source used in medical treatment.Various officials from Mexico’s National Commission on Nuclear Safety have been on the radio and television this morning asking Mexicans to keep alert for a Volkswagen Worker truck with a built-in crane. The material was bound from the Social Security Hospital in Tijuana to a nuclear waste facility between the states of Mexico and Hidalgo, when it was robbed by armed assailants at a gas station on the outskirts of Mexico City. The robbery occurred Monday.
Mexico's "Comisión Nacional de Seguridad Nuclear y Salvaguardias (CNSNS)" said the truck, which was transporting the cobalt-60 teletherapy source from a hospital in the northern city of Tijuana to a radioactive waste storage centre, was stolen in Tepojaco near Mexico City at around 08:00 UTC on 2 December 2013.
At the time the truck was stolen, the 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 authorities are currently conducting a search for the source and have issued a press release to alert the public.
The IAEA has made an offer of good offices to Mexico, a process that makes the IAEA available to provide assistance if requested by a Member State, and the IEC remains in contact with the CNSNS."