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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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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.


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