Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

December 5, 2013

Mexican radioactive material retrieved?

Filed under: Radiological & Nuclear Threats — by Philip J. Palin on December 5, 2013

As I go offline Wednesday night it sounds as if the truck carrying radioactive medical waste hijacked north of Mexico City has been located and is in the hands of Mexican authorities.  The status of the cargo is not yet clear.

The hijacking occurred on Monday and has been widely reported as a random criminal act, not a purposeful effort to claim the cobalt-60 being transported from a medical facility to a waste treatment facility.

But whether by accidental release or intentional “weaponization” radioactive medical waste can present a substantial threat.  In 1987 the theft of a different radiotherapeutic agent in Goiania Brazil resulted in the death of four and health-threatening contamination of over 200.

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3 Comments »

Comment by William R. Cumming

December 5, 2013 @ 1:43 pm

Okay revealing here that since retiring in October 1999
have had no contracts with FEMA and no DHS contracts with the exception of one as tier 3 or 4 contractor to the DHS S&T Directorate on RDD threats. The contract called for me to participate in a two-day panel [open sources only] and the entire panel concluded the RDD threat overstated or almost nonexistent.

WE ARE NOT THREATENED BY MEXICAN TRUCKS HAULING MEDICAL WASTE!

Comment by Arnold Bogis

December 10, 2013 @ 5:42 pm

Phil, while I won’t argue the substantial threat description (though I’d contend it’ll be more of an own goal than anything else), I would like to point out that (if memory serves) the people who died in Brazil basically rubbed the Cesium involved over their bodies or ingested a large dose of it. Any scenario involving explosive or other type of dispersion will not subject anyone to similar amounts of radioactive material.

Pingback by Homeland Security Watch » Old news (about a stolen radiation source), but new analysis

February 26, 2014 @ 3:49 am

[...] Last December the funny papers and cable news were all over the story of radioactive material that went missing in Mexico. This website’s own Phil Palin covered the news here. [...]

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