International authorities are scrambling to find a truck that was stolen in Mexico.
Local police say the vehicle was transporting cobalt-60 used in medical devices at a Tijuana hospital to a secure disposal and storage center when it was stolen. Cobalt-60 is radioactive and could be used to build a so-called “dirty bomb,” in which a conventional explosive is used to scatter radioactive material, potentially contaminating a large area, Reuters notes.
The truck was stolen just outside Mexico City. The United Nation’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) did not reveal how much cobalt-60 was inside the vehicle when it went missing, but did note that the material was properly contained for shipping.
Mexican police are searching for the vehicle. The cobalt-60 could pose a danger to people close enough for exposure to radiation if the containers are breached.
Exposure to radiation produced by radioactive waste like cobalt-60 can lead to an increased risk of cancer.
Every year, the IAEA receives reports of more than 100 incidents involving radioactive material.