Photo from cnsns.gob.mx
The truck was reportedly carrying outdated medical equipment used to perform radiotherapy when it was hijacked at a gas station in Tepojaco, Hidalgo – near Mexico City – on Monday, the National Commission of Nuclear Safety and Safeguards (CNSNS) said.
The white Volkswagen Worker semi-trailer had reportedly stopped en route from a hospital in Tijuana to a radioactive waste storage center.
CNSNS authorities said the cobalt-60 teletherapy source posed no health risk as long as the part of the equipment housing the radioactive source is not cracked.
"At the time 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," the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said.
"The Mexican authorities are currently conducting a search for the source and have issued a press release to alert the public," the UN nuclear watchdog said. Local authorities have urged calm, telling the public the threat posed by the stolen equipment is minimal.
According to the IAEA, sealed radioactive sources are widely used in medicine for the treatment of malignant diseases and for blood irradiation. Cobalt-60 sources are often deployed in teletherapy, a form of external beam radiotherapy used to treat cancer, and brachytherapy – also known as internal radiotherapy.
FIG. VI-4. Cobalt-60 unit used for teletherapy (Typical source activity: up to 370 TBq (10 kCi) 60 Co). (Image from iaea.org)
Experts have previously warned that such radioactive sources have long been held by hospitals without sufficient security
Credit to RT