Mexico issued an alert late Wednesday in 5 states after deadly radioactive material was stolen from a truck this week. The interior ministry said iridium-192 had been stolen from a truck in the southern state of Tabasco.
According to authorities “This source could cause permanent injuries to the person who handles it or who has been in contact with it for a brief time (minutes or hours)”
Mexico issued the alerts for Tabasco and the nearby states of Campeche, Chiapas, Oaxaca and Veracruz. Federal police, army and navy were also placed on alert according to sources.
This is far from the first incident of radioactive material being stolen inside Mexico. In 2014, another shipment of iridium-192 was abandoned in a stolen truck near a Mexico City suburb. In 2013, a group of robbers were hospitalized after they had been exposed to cobalt-60. The highly radioactive material was stolen near Mexico City, causing the International Atomic Energy Agency and the United States to raise an alert until the stolen material was found.
In many of the cases the thieves did not know what precisely they were stealing and it remains to be seen if this case is similar. The material stolen could not be used to make a nuclear weapon though it could be used in a crude improvised explosive device to create a ‘dirty bomb’.