Home | National | Radioactive waste that could be used to make dirty bomb stolen from hospital truck

Radioactive waste that could be used to make dirty bomb stolen from hospital truck

Font size: Decrease font Enlarge font
  • Thieves drive off with van delivering toxic substance to waste facility
  • Cobalt-60 from old hospital equipment can be used in weapons

By Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 08:44 EST, 4 December 2013 | UPDATED: 08:53 EST, 4 December 2013



A truck carrying radioactive material for medical treatment, which could be used in a dirty bomb, has been stolen in Mexico, the UN nuclear watchdog said.

Details of how much cobalt-60 - a radioactive source - was on the truck when it was stolen on Monday has not been released by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The material could potentially be used to make a dirty bomb, where traditional explosives are used to spread radiation.

Stolen: A container of cobalt-60, similar to this one, has gone missing in Mexico

Stolen: A container of cobalt-60, similar to this one, has gone missing in Mexico

Mexican authorities told the IAEA that the truck, which had been delivering the toxic substance from a Tijuana hospital to a radioactive storage facility, was taken in Tepojaco, near Mexico City.

The white van delivering it was taken from a gas station as the driver stopped to refuel.

'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 IAEA statement said.

The agency has offered to help Mexican authorities, who it said were searching for the material and had alerted the public.

More than 100 incidents of thefts and other unauthorized activities involving nuclear and radioactive material are reported to the IAEA annually, the UN agency said earlier this year.

Because radioactive material is regarded as less hard to find and the device easier to manufacture, experts say a so-called 'dirty bomb' is a more likely threat than a nuclear bomb in any attack by militants.

Toxic: The decommissioned medical equipment, like the box above, is safe as long as no one tampers with it

Toxic: The decommissioned medical equipment, like the box above, is safe as long as no one tampers with it

Risk: Radioactive material used in hospitals, such as cobalt-60, could be turned into a dirty bomb

Risk: Radioactive material used in hospitals, such as cobalt-60, could be turned into a dirty bomb

Experts describe the threat of a crude fissile nuclear bomb, which is technically difficult to manufacture and requires hard-to-obtain bomb-grade uranium or plutonium, as a 'low probability, high consequence act' - unlikely but with the potential to cause large-scale harm to life and property.

But a dirty bomb is seen as a 'high probability, low consequence act' with more potential to terrorize than cause large loss of life.

At a nuclear security summit last year, IAEA director-general Yukiya Amano specifically singled out cobalt-60 among radioactive sources that could be used for such bombs.

'These materials, such as cobalt-60, could be used along with conventional explosives to make so-called dirty bombs. A dirty bomb detonated in a major city could cause mass panic, as well as serious economic and environmental consequences,' Mr Amano said, according to a copy of his speech.





Colorado News

Get the latest Colorado news, sports, weather, entertainment, business & political news and more from Colorado Newsday.
  • Email to a friend Email to a friend
  • Print version Print version
  • Plain text Plain text

Rate this article


Photo Galleries

PHOTOS: Plastic Surgery Celebrity Awkward family photos 
UPDATED: Faces of Meth PHOTOS: Celebrities all a-Twitter

More galleries ››

  1. Drunk tractor driver decapitates three people in head-on crash (1.50)

  2. Spoiled’ teen takes parents to court (1.00)

  3. Terms of Service (0)

  4. Colorado Newsday Privacy Policy (0)

  5. Kim Kardashian denied access to Vanity Fair party (0)

  6. Russian troops threaten to shoot Ukrainian soldiers in tense stand-off (0)

  7. Boxer vows to fight on – after 51st defeat in row (0)

  8. Forbes rich list names world’s youngest billionaires (0)

  9. Pregnant woman drives kids into ocean in Florida (0)

  10. Oprah Winfrey tells Lindsay Lohan to ‘cut the bull****’ in trailer for new reality show Lindsay (0)

  11. Denver Man Michael McGinley threatened to kill wife in phone call at DA’s office (0)

  12. Couple stole little girl's iPod in Aurora (0)

  13. Former director of Breckenridge Film Festival Dawna Foxx given 5 years for embezzling $300K (0)

  14. Knee injury to sideline Broncos linebacker Danny Trevathan 6-8 weeks (0)

  15. Malala Yousafzai receives Philadelphia Liberty Medal: Teenage Nobel laureate joins Nelson Mandela, Thurgood Marshall and Jimmy Carter in winning prestigious honor (0)

  16. The ghosts of U576 found 30 miles off the Carolina coast, 72 years after doomed submarine sank when captain launched a suicidal attack against merchant vessel (0)

  17. EXCLUSIVE: Empty corridors, snow-free mountains and the weird Dome Cafe: Inside North Korea's deserted ski resort which Kim Jong-un says is 'impeccable' (0)

  18. Bill and Hillary ignore Monica Lewinsky's public re-emergence as they continue supporting Democratic candidates on the campaign trail in Louisiana and California  (0)

  19. Woman who got stuck in chimney had been dumped by homeowner she met online and had already been caught on his roof once before (0)

  20. Anni Dewani's cousin was told that Anni and Shrien were only 'acting' (0)

  21. New details of alleged rape by lawyer Sanford Rubenstein after Al Sharpton's birthday bash - as accuser's lawyers demand he be charged (0)

  22. Man charged with killing Saudi college student (0)

  23. Former Navy SEAL Kristin Beck, who retired to become female, speaks at conference of transgender soldiers to discuss U.S. military's ban (0)

  24. Woman's home is foreclosed and sold at auction after failing to pay a $95 tax bill - but none of the letters ever reached her... except the one telling her she has to move out by Thanksgiving!  (0)

  25. Search area shifts and Pennsylvania school district boosts security after sighting of survivalist gunman who killed state trooper  (0)

  26. Protesters disrupt Metropolitan Opera premiere of controversial production dramatizing the murder of a Jewish American by Palestinian terrorists (0)

  27. Teacher, 24, 'admitted to having sex with male cheerleader after being confronted with naked photo she had sent him' (0)

  28. Oscar Pistorius to finally learn sentence for killing Reeva Steenkamp (0)

  29. Oscar de la Renta, fashion designer, dead aged 82 (0)

  30. Dr Eben Alexander has lost his scepticism about the after-life  (0)

  31. Western aid 'is funding ISIS fighters' because jihadists are demanding bribes (0)

  32. Qantas' new business class seats allow you to fully recline and SLEEP (0)

  33. Teen mother charged with attempted capital murder 'for trying to suffocate her son' (0)

  34. Carol Highsmith sheds 50lbs to attend her 50th high school reunion (0)

  35. Isabelle Stapleton's mother Kelli describes morning she tried to kill them both (0)

  36. Marla Sokoloff pregnant with her second child (0)

  37. Tori Spelling hospitalized for possible pneumonia (0)

  38. Matthew Morrison shares wedding photo with wife Renee Puente (0)

  39. Banksy's version of Girl With A Pearl Earring appears on Bristol wall (0)

  40. Train cars converted into luxury suites at Crowne Plaza hotel in Indianapolis (0)

  41. 'Zombie on the loose' in Cheshire sparks police probe but it turned out to be photoshoot (0)

  42. Jonathan Bennett eliminated from 'Dancing with the Stars' (0)

  43. Celebrities react to Oscar de la Renta's death (0)

  44. Roman gladiators ate vegetarian diet and drank 'sports drink' of plant ashes and vinegar (0)

  45. Revealed, Oregon's First Lady took older ex-lover (and pot-farm partner) on romantic Siberian trip just weeks after she was paid $5,000 for 'green card wedding' to Ethiopian immigrant (0)

  46. One in three now ignore home telephone when it rings (0)

  47. Duchess of Cambridge is all smiles despite looking a little under the weather in first public appearance since announcing her second pregnancy (0)

  48. More Siding Spring images shooting past Mars captured by orbiter (0)

  49. More than 4.7 MILLION car owners urged to check if their vehicle is fitted with faulty air bags that have killed at least four people (0)

  50. The 'poor' will dominate politics if we allow democracy says Hong Kong chief (0)