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Mexico hospital waste theft sparks radioactive risk

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Mexico hospital waste theft sparks radioactive risk

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Thieves who stole a lorry parked at a petrol station just outside Mexico City sparked a security alert after it was revealed it contained radioactive hospital waste which could be used by terrorists.

A search was launched as a member of Mexico’s Nuclear Safety Commission warned that tampering with the cargo could be dangerous.

“Only if inadvertently or intentionally the thieves open the magnetic head to take out the radioactive material is there a very very serious radioactive risk,” said Operations Supervisor Mardonio Jimenez Rojas.

The cargo was hospital equipment containing the isotope cobalt-60, used in the treatment of cancer. But it could also be used as an ingredient of a so-called “dirty bomb”.

Police eventually found the lorry not far from where it had been stolen but the cargo had been dumped a kilometre away. It is not clear if all the cobalt was recovered.