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The truck has been found by authorities

A couple of carjackers from Mexico are almost certain to win a Darwin Award for their latest (and final) crime.
 
A white Volkswagen truck was transporting a highly radioactive material -- cobalt-60 -- from a public hospital in the border town of Tijuana to a storage facility in central Mexico. A man and his assistant, both of whom worked for a licensed private company, drove the truck. 
 
The drivers arrived at their destination hours before the storage facility opened, so they waited at a gas station in the state of Hidalgo. However, two carjackers beat the drivers and stole their truck, completely oblivious to what was in the back of the vehicle. 
 
Mexican authorities immediately started looking across six states for the stolen vehicle while Mexico's nuclear safety group (known as CNSNS) issued a public alert. If the cobalt-60 was removed from its casing, which consisted of a wooden box that has steel edging, it could be very dangerous.
 
After a two-day hunt, the truck was found in a rural area near the town of Hueypoxtla, which is about 25 miles from where the vehicle was stolen. The carjackers were not with the truck, but they did manage to open the box of cobalt-60 before they left.

While the carjackers haven't been arrested yet, Mexico's nuclear safety commission believes that they are dead, or will soon be dead due to the exposure to radiation. 

“I believe, definitely, that the thieves did not know what they had; they were interested in the crane, in the vehicle,” said Mardonio Jimenez, a physicist and official with Mexico’s nuclear safety commission. "The people who handled it will have severe problems with radiation. They will, without a doubt, die.”

It was reported that radiation was detected a half-mile away from where the truck was found. The report also noted that no one lives in that area. 

Cobalt-60 is most often used in hospital radiotherapy machines.

Source: NPR



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so will everyone
By fic2 on 12/5/2013 12:39:46 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
The people who handled it will have severe problems with radiation. They will, without a doubt, die.”


Everyone, without a doubt will die.
Not everyone will be up for a Darwin award in doing it though.




RE: so will everyone
By dsx724 on 12/5/2013 12:43:04 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
Everyone, without a doubt will die.

Speak for yourself.


RE: so will everyone
By Flunk on 12/5/2013 12:50:54 PM , Rating: 2
Want to place a wager on that?


RE: so will everyone
By DanNeely on 12/5/2013 12:55:31 PM , Rating: 2
So far, so good.


RE: so will everyone
By althaz on 12/5/2013 9:00:06 PM , Rating: 2
I'll take that bet. I bet you $1,000,000 I don't die. So far so good. I'll take the money now thanks.

If it turns out I'm wrong I'll return you the million and give you another.


RE: so will everyone
By Amedean on 12/6/2013 2:25:19 AM , Rating: 4
This conversation brings back old memories in my Army days when I was a infantry paratrooper in the 82d Airborne.

Back in 2003 little known but I was part of a detachment on a mission here:

https://maps.google.com/maps?q=amiriyah+iraq&ie=UT...

because we had to recover a larger than a baseball bat sized rod of Cobalt 60. Below that small town was the former Iraqi Army chemical weapons school and depot where an unknowing villager was paid by Al-Qaeda to drag that rod to his home.

I imagine the original intention was to make a dirty bomb.... needless to say America's finest including myself had to knowingly guard this exposed rod with all the understanding that we may all die of cancer in a few years.

Had a small lump on my scalp ever since but it is non-malignant. One guy in my company got breast cancer and another a tumor on one testicle. Either way, the VA wont accept documentation for this exposure and I am left today footing the bill taking precautionary antioxidants and anti-neoplastic supplements for as many years.

There you go, the unheard sacrifices soldiers knowingly accept to protect lives...

P.S. to the south west across the road from the spot I marked on Google Maps is 3 large facilities that were industrial weapons factories which also manufactured G5 howitzers and ammunition. Yes, chemical weapons as well. It is also the site of this disaster where I used to walk through unknowingly:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amiriyah_shelter_bomb...


RE: so will everyone
By Amedean on 12/6/2013 2:29:05 AM , Rating: 2
My appologies, the correct map link is here:

https://maps.google.com/maps?q=Amiriyat+Al-Falluja...

Google maps got confused...


RE: so will everyone
By sorry dog on 12/6/2013 11:07:34 AM , Rating: 2
If that's the story, then you have my gratitude for your service.

I'm curious about the V.A. situation. Can you elaborate?


RE: so will everyone
By Amedean on 12/6/2013 11:46:50 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, the VA only covers conditions diagnosed during service or "proven" service connected.

Hypothetical hopefully, but if I were to develop cancer it would require a miracle of paperwork to form a service connection. Let alone, by the time the paperwork would have been finished I would probably have died. I was even advised to not mention my cobalt-60 exposure should that happen to reduce paperwork so they said to claim "excessive sun exposure" as the most probable cause.

To give you a broader perspective on the issue, I broke my wrist in Afghanistan, cracked a few bones on my feet, cronic joint pains (naturally)......sports injuries apparently. Never played sports either but I have been fighting this and the exposure issue for over 5 years.

All the process is for is to reduce legacy costs of our many years at war.


RE: so will everyone
By Noya on 12/7/2013 11:45:01 PM , Rating: 2
Don't you just love our government? Go get F'ed and you're on your own!


RE: so will everyone
By Amedean on 12/8/2013 12:50:28 AM , Rating: 2
Thank you for your concern and I understand the message, but there is more blame to share. Let's face it, one of the chief driving forces behind this is that we in America like cheap taxes while having our say in the world all the same.

Because its a volunteer military, it is easy to be disconnected. I don't think in any time in U.S. history did the country wage war and drop taxes. And at this scale, there has never been such a sustained conflict without a draft.

The reality is very few people carry the burden in today's wars.


RE: so will everyone
By room200 on 12/8/2013 2:54:03 PM , Rating: 2
Which is why I NEVER complain about taxes, You want great services? You pay what's needed to get them. We shouldn't have military without proper equipment because we want everything and don't want to pay for it.


RE: so will everyone
By JasonMick (blog) on 12/5/2013 6:19:21 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
Speak for yourself.
You found all seven Dragonballs, I take it?


RE: so will everyone
By akugami on 12/6/2013 10:53:46 AM , Rating: 3
I don't know about him, but I've been schmoozing with Scytale.


RE: so will everyone
By TSS on 12/6/2013 7:48:38 PM , Rating: 2
Thanks to denial, i'm immortal.


RE: so will everyone
By Captain Awesome on 12/5/2013 12:47:33 PM , Rating: 2
I think it's very unlikely any of them will win Darwin awards. If you take either of the thieves ages, subtract 14, then multiply that number by 0.6. That's probably how many kids they've already had.


RE: so will everyone
By YearOfTheDingo on 12/5/2013 1:47:05 PM , Rating: 1
Do you get the virgins still if you accidentally died for the course of Jihad? I mean, these guys just lent a huge hand to al Qaeda. Now the terrorists know where they can easily get materials for a dirty bomb.


RE: so will everyone
By Kefner on 12/5/2013 3:00:01 PM , Rating: 3
It must have been our three favorite terrorist. Hous Bin Pharteen, I-Bin Pharteen, and I-Zheet M'Drurz! Dang dirty bombers!!! :)


RE: so will everyone
By cokbun on 12/5/2013 10:45:37 PM , Rating: 3
not if they had Rad-X


RE: so will everyone
By Jeffk464 on 12/6/2013 5:04:27 PM , Rating: 2
How could someone not know what the warning label for radioactive material looks like.


Odds are they are not dead
By mattclary on 12/5/2013 1:43:33 PM , Rating: 1
Unless they ingested the cobalt, they were probably not exposed enough to cause death.




RE: Odds are they are not dead
By Kakti on 12/5/2013 1:52:13 PM , Rating: 3
Actually the odds are they absolutely 100% will die from radiation poisoning. The Cobalt-60 isotope has a (relatively) short half-life of roughly 5.25 years, releasing two gamma rays and a beta ray (electron) in the process.

These medical materials are generally shielded by huge lead/stainless steel containers. The wooden box was simply a shipping crate. Once the thieves removed the lead shielding they would be bombarded by gamma rays. Since they likely didn't know or immediately flee, it can be inferred that they will be expiring in short order.


RE: Odds are they are not dead
By twhittet on 12/5/2013 2:33:08 PM , Rating: 5
Gamma rays? Let's just hope they don't get mad. I don't think we would like them when they're mad.


RE: Odds are they are not dead
By Solandri on 12/6/2013 4:02:06 AM , Rating: 2
There have been several cobalt-60 irradiation incidents before. Death usually occurs within a month or two. The timeframe is consistent with the two plutonium irradiation deaths during the Manhattan project.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goi%C3%A2nia_accident
http://www.johnstonsarchive.net/nuclear/radevents/...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samut_Prakan_radiatio...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mayapuri#Mayapuri_rad...


RE: Odds are they are not dead
By DennisB on 12/5/2013 2:16:03 PM , Rating: 2
You know, it's used for burning out cancer. And it needs like a meter of lead for shielding. These guys are doomed the moment they looked at it.


RE: Odds are they are not dead
By 91TTZ on 12/5/2013 3:03:25 PM , Rating: 2
It was inside a machine from a hospital, and those machines don't have a meter of lead.


RE: Odds are they are not dead
By ShaolinSoccer on 12/5/2013 5:52:20 PM , Rating: 2
It was inside a box that they opened. Did you not read the article?! Those guys are as good as dead...


RE: Odds are they are not dead
By sorry dog on 12/6/2013 11:34:22 AM , Rating: 2
How fast they die probably all depends on how long they handled it and how much they handled it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acute_radiation_syndr...

Like when Slotin got exposed, a heat and pin pricking sensation was described if a large amount of radiation is being absorbed, so the Darwin applicants may have had some clues that something was wrong. Barring that however, it will probably take a few weeks. It's such a drawn out hideous death that somebody will probably take then to a hospital. Whether the Mexican gov't lets us know about it is another matter.

I imagine they would want to suppress the news from this event...


RE: Odds are they are not dead
By Piiman on 12/7/2013 1:36:21 PM , Rating: 2
Why would they want to suppress news that's already made the news?


RE: Odds are they are not dead
By ianweck on 12/5/2013 6:29:34 PM , Rating: 2
The tenth thickness for gammas is 2" of lead, 4" of steel if I recall correctly. Probably wouldn't need a meter of lead for adequate shielding.


RE: Odds are they are not dead
By V-Money on 12/5/2013 9:02:15 PM , Rating: 2
You are correct, 2" for lead, 4" for steel, and 24" for water or poly. Alphas are stopped by your skin and betas can be stopped by a piece of paper. In the end it has to do with the source radiation and time/distance/shielding. Without knowing how radioactive the source was we cant really make any determinations unless they managed to ingest some of it for some stupid reason (or make a necklace out of it).


RE: Odds are they are not dead
By DennisB on 12/6/2013 2:44:17 PM , Rating: 2
Shielding before replacement has to be at least
this gives 15 cm lead or 37.5 cm steel or 270 cm water.


common practice?
By AntiM on 12/5/2013 12:58:51 PM , Rating: 2
Is it common practice to transport highly dangerous nuclear material without any type of security in place. Wouldn't there have been warnings plastered all over the wooden box? A WOODEN BOX??? There's something fishy about this story. I wonder if this sort of thing could happen in the US.




RE: common practice?
By Ammohunt on 12/5/2013 1:37:30 PM , Rating: 3
I was wondering that myself anyone would recognize the international symbol for radiation if not on the side of the truck(for security reasons) at least inside on the container; just seems odd.


RE: common practice?
By marvdmartian on 12/5/2013 1:58:08 PM , Rating: 2
1. This happened in Mexico. Think about it. Mexico. Are they known for doing things in the safest manner? Do they follow the rules we're used to, living elsewhere?? Mexico.

2. Material like this is normally stored in a case that uses depleted uranium (U-238) as shielding, since it's much more dense than lead (so makes much better shielding), and even though it's radioactive itself, it blocks more radiation than it emits. Chances are, this was then stored inside a wooden crate.

If you really want to get a good scare, look into some of the stories of Iridium 192 radiography sources being mishandled in the 3rd world. Scary stuff!!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iridium-192#Iridium-1...


RE: common practice?
By M'n'M on 12/5/2013 9:04:44 PM , Rating: 3
The C60 was used in a medical instrument that obviously could contain the radiation and allow some to escape (when "un-capped") to treat patients. This medical instrument was placed in a box and shipped in a plain white van. So ...

- what's more secure, hiding the materials "in plain sight" using a van like many others that come and go ... or having an armed escort vehicle ? The latter would certainly prevent the common van-jacking that this was but may prove ineffective vs a dedicated, well armed terror group.

- apparently these thieves haven't seen enough TV and so didn't recognize the warning signs. Not only did they open the shipping crate but the medical instrument itself. And dumped, likely handled the naked C60 itself. That's deadly within minutes. Too bad, so sad.

- it's Mexico.


RE: common practice?
By jRaskell on 12/6/2013 9:06:52 AM , Rating: 2
It's a common misconception that armed escorts HAVE to be obvious targets.

Not true. Any reasonably competent security company will be more than capable of providing concealed armed escorts which would be very difficult for even experienced criminals to identify.

Apparently the problem here is that too many people actually watch too much TV. What you see in movies and TV shows is NOT real. Hollywood's convoy of identical blacked out SUVs is very uncommon, if ever used in the real world at all.

Coordinated security can easily remain just out of sight via radio comms, but mere seconds from providing support when needed, and they won't all be driving identical vehicles of any kind.

quote:
Too bad, so sad.


Not too bad at all and not sad in the least. We're talking about hijackers here. They got exactly what they deserved. So long as no innocents were exposed in the process, it's a totally happy ending as far as I'm concerned.


RE: common practice?
By tamalero on 12/6/2013 10:46:02 AM , Rating: 2
Mexican here.

Armed escorts are constantly being targeted as "high value" targets by narcs.

They constantly ambush military and federal police convoys.. specially in states like Guerrero.


RE: common practice?
By homebredcorgi on 12/6/2013 2:20:12 AM , Rating: 2
It's in a containment vessel inside the wooden box.

I heard on the radio that they use unmarked vans since marked vans would be a potential terrorist target and generally cause public unrest since people flip out the second you mention anything is radioactive.

They also said using armed escorts or armored cars make them a bigger target for thieves that think there is something valuable inside.


There is no risk to the public
By 91TTZ on 12/5/2013 1:14:43 PM , Rating: 2
I remember reading this article yesterday. Even though a box of insanely radioactive material was missing they declared that the public was safe and that there's no risk to the public.

How is that possible? How is it that if you get too close to this stuff for a minute you die, and yet when it goes missing you declare that there's no risk to anyone?




RE: There is no risk to the public
By Monkey's Uncle on 12/5/2013 1:41:48 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
It was reported that radiation was detected a half-mile away from where the truck was found. The report also noted that no one lives in that area.


I'm sure that is an accurate thing go say ... now.


RE: There is no risk to the public
By 91TTZ on 12/5/2013 3:04:46 PM , Rating: 2
Sure, now.

But when the article was first written the truck was stolen- nobody knew where it is. All the authorities knew was that a truck with deadly radioactive material is missing. Yet, there was no danger for public safety.


RE: There is no risk to the public
By w8gaming on 12/6/2013 1:02:57 AM , Rating: 2
The original report stated that as long as the box is not opened, there is no risk to the public. But somehow after other sites start reporting the same news, this tidbit of info is left out.


RE: There is no risk to the public
By Cr0nJ0b on 12/5/2013 3:27:45 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not sure I believe this...

What is the attenuation (if that's the right word) for the Gamma rays over distance?

To say that it's safe to transport in a simple wood box would indicate to me that the wood box blocked all or most of the rays, which I can't understand...after all the comments about lead and shielding...

If it really were that unsafe, how could they protect the community from an accident? Car 50MPH Vs. truck 50MPH on a TJ freeway in a densely populated city would likely explode the crate and lots of people could be exposed.

I'm wondering what the likelihood is that the gov't of mexico is putting this out there just to make it force the car jackers to hit up a hospital for help...

it's scary if it's true.


By delphinus100 on 12/5/2013 7:52:34 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
What is the attenuation (if that's the right word) for the Gamma rays over distance?


As with most other things, with no shielding or reflections, the inverse-square law applies...


RE: There is no risk to the public
By Solandri on 12/6/2013 5:16:47 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
To say that it's safe to transport in a simple wood box would indicate to me that the wood box blocked all or most of the rays, which I can't understand...after all the comments about lead and shielding...

The cobalt-60 itself is usually several pellets in a hardened metal cylinder with a sapphire aperture for exposure. The cylinder is encased in shielding which slides to cover the aperture to avoid unintentional exposure. For transport, this entire mechanism is placed in more shielding and a solid metal shell which is clamped, bolted, and locked shut. This shell was what was probably inside a wooden crate (to avoid metal-on-metal vibration transmission with the truck bed).

You really have to work hard to get it open. In the handful of similar incidents where the radioactive material was breached, it took the unsuspecting people several days of persistent effort with industrial-grade tools (junkyard metal scrapper, oxyacetylene torch, etc). These folks usually assume it's so well protected because it's valuable. It doesn't occur to them that it's dangerous.


Improvise
By ClownPuncher on 12/5/2013 12:45:05 PM , Rating: 3
Well, that's one way to heat your tortillas.




RE: Improvise
By Monkey's Uncle on 12/5/2013 1:39:00 PM , Rating: 3
Gives a whole new meaning to Hot Tamale.


RE: Improvise
By ClownPuncher on 12/5/2013 1:58:35 PM , Rating: 1
Mexican thief eats radioactive tamale, becomes supervillain.


RE: Improvise
By CaedenV on 12/5/2013 5:46:33 PM , Rating: 2
Tamale Libre?

... I'm not good at this.


RE: Improvise
By Monkey's Uncle on 12/5/2013 6:02:10 PM , Rating: 1
Tamale caliente ;)


why
By cokbun on 12/5/2013 8:57:13 PM , Rating: 4
why u glowing esse ?




Death in a Box
By J.R.Oppenheimer on 12/5/2013 7:51:16 PM , Rating: 1
Ha Ha Ha!
The only way this could possibly be funnier is if the hospital rigged a little Grim Reaper to pop out after opening the box, lol! :D

However, I think they could be the inspiration for a new saying...
"Curiosity killed the thieving wetback."

They'd be alive today if they didn't disobey the Commandment... "Thou Shalt Not Steal".

Harsh lesson, but Karma can be a real bitch sometimes!




RE: Death in a Box
By PaFromFL on 12/6/2013 9:14:11 AM , Rating: 1
In superstitious (religious) countries, they should store dangerous materials in containers that look like the Ark of the Covenant. That would scare off ignorant people that know nothing about science but have a firm belief in fairy tales.


So, ...
By ShieTar on 12/6/2013 5:20:16 AM , Rating: 2
So, the "physicist and official with Mexico’s nuclear safety commission." happily confirmed that this easy-to-steal truck with its utterly insufficient safety measures contained not just a little bit of radioactive material, but indeed a sufficiently huge amount to surely kill anybody who opens the steal casing? So this box is not usually opened outside of a huge shielded room by remote tools? The kind of room no normal hospital has?

Either he exaggerated horribly in order to discourage future thieves, or his career is about to qualify for a Darwin award itself.




Giant AssUmption
By Captain Orgazmo on 12/8/2013 4:27:12 AM , Rating: 2
Why do they conclude that the material was stolen by accident? Might well have been a targeted theft. If this stuff is so deadly it would make a heck of a dirty bomb, and if not stolen by terrorists, it could be sold to them (including groups like FARC, the drug cartels, jihadis, etc).




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