Someone, or some group, in Mexico has stolen a truck transporting an undetermined amount of cobalt-60 used in medical procedures. Every time an incident such as this one happens somewhere in the Americas, it should make you think. I doubt, however, that there will be much media coverage or attention about it.
According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN’s nuclear watchdog, when 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.”
A Mexican government website states the materiel was stolen at a Mexico City gas station in Hidalgo. They’ve posted a warning as well: “If you come into possession or find [the box] do not open or damage [it], since, in such cases, can cause severe damages to health.”
U.S. and Mexican authorities will undoubtedly be working overtime to catch who did this, as well as secure the materials. Cobalt 60 can be used in for, among other things, a radiation dispersal device (RDD) or dirty bomb.
Yes amigos/as, several of our friends in the Americas operate civilian nuclear facilities. Supposedly, we take them at their word, these programs are for peaceful and civilian purposes. It is well worth keep an eye on them, Brazil and Argentina especially. They also have aerospace programs as well.
The U.S. should make sure that these governments have enough security protocols in place to keep the nuclear and radioactive waste away from the bad actors who seek to do the U.S. harm.
The IAEA release is available here.