Two carjackers in Tijuana, Mexico took a vehicle at gunpoint on Tuesday only to abandon it later when they discovered it was full of radioactive waste. The incident sparked panic on both sides of the border and had authorities scrambling to locate the radioactive medical waste, Cobalt 60, used in discontinued cancer treatment equipment. The IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) released a statement that in part read:
[box type=”shadow”] “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.” [/box]
“The person or people who took this [radioactive waste] out [of the casing] are in very great risk of dying.”
He added that the life expectancy for cases of exposure like this is one to three days.
Luckily the vehicle and radioactive waste were found outside of inhabited areas, and experts believe no one else was at risk. Authorities estimate it will take between one and three days to secure the waste and remove it safely.