UK & World News

  • 4 December 2013, 13:04

Mexico: 'Dangerous' Radioactive Waste Stolen

A lorry carrying "extremely dangerous" radioactive waste has been stolen in Mexico.

The truck was carrying nuclear waste from a hospital to a storage centre when it was taken in Tepojaco, north of Mexico City.

The UN's nuclear watchdog said the material, cobalt-60, which is used to treat cancer patients, could be harmful if removed from its protective casing.

"At the time the truck was stolen, the source was properly shielded," the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a statement.

"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."

In theory, the haul could be used in a so-called "dirty bomb" - an explosive device capable of spreading radiation over a vast area.

Experts have previously warned of the dangers posed by large amounts of radioactive material stored in places like hospitals, universities and factories.

In 2012, the IAEA received 24 reports of theft or loss and warned the figure was only the "tip of the iceberg".

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