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Medical Radioactive Material Truck Stolen In Mexico

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the 35-rads-per-gallon dept.

Medicine 98

An anonymous reader writes "A medical radioactive material truck has been stolen just outside Mexico City. From the article: 'BBC world affairs correspondent Rajesh Mirchandani says Cobalt-60 could theoretically be used in a so-called "dirty bomb" - an explosive device that could spread radioactive material over a wide area - although there is no official suggestion this was the purpose of the theft. Mexican police are currently conducting a search for the truck and its contents and have issued a press release to alert the public to its potential dangers.'"

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Already found (5, Informative)

Dan East (318230) | about a year ago | (#45603825)

Kind of embarrassing for Slashdot to post this now, considering the truck has already been found. Apparently the container was opened, but it appears (at least most of) the Cobalt-60 is still intact.

Considering the infrastructure and expense required to ship something like this (special shielded containers, etc), why don't they include a tracking device? Even a cheapo cell phone can be used as a tracking device, which is better than nothing.

Re:Already found (5, Funny)

WarJolt (990309) | about a year ago | (#45603885)

We don't get embarrassed at Slashdot. We just post stuff and hope it gets moded up.

Hee Hee You Know Its True You Fucks! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45603947)

Blacks are inferior as a group.

Look at the way [waff.com] all of the blacks just go apeshit so to speak [myfoxatlanta.com] over a bunch of fucking sneakers of all things [wdrb.com] !

Then ask yourself why white people don't riot over the latest Apple gadget even though they gather in large crowds waiting for them. I mean an objective person might think whites are more civilized!

Oh does anyone remember when the blacks rioted like crazy [scotsman.com] after Hurricane Katrina? Isn't it JUST A LITTLE STRANGE the way white people in Colorado banded together and helped each other [usatoday.com] when they were hit with a natural disaster instead of rioting and looting [usatoday.com] like the blacks did? I mean an objective person might think whites are more civilized! [blogspot.com]

Oh and blacks are responsible for nearly all the murders in Marion County [blogspot.com] ! That is what you would expect from a violent tribal uncivilized race.

Interesting when a black man admits blacks are to blame [vdare.com] for the hellhole that is (86% black) Jackson Mississippi? Quote: "Look at recent history, like in South Africa, when apartheid was abolished,” Lambus said in a recent interview with The Associated Press. “Blacks went on a crime spree.""

It goes on and on. Probably no point in posting this since people who are objective already understand the destruction and violence and cost blacks bring anytime they are abundant. It is not just USA. All over the world black-governed nations are hellholes. But objective people knew this. It is the people indoctrinated to believe that acknowledging FACTS is somehow "racist" who just can't admit it. None are so blind as those who will not see.

Re:Already found (1)

J'raxis (248192) | about a year ago | (#45603991)

And post a dupe of URL three days later.

Re:Already found (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | about a year ago | (#45604283)

And of course it'll get posted again as if it were a new story.

Re:Already found (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45603907)

Embarrassing? No, Slashdot has always been behind the curve.

NSA already did it (2)

gavron (1300111) | about a year ago | (#45603935)

The NSA tracked it.

They just responded to the Mexican's request for information with a redacted report saying:
It's located right [XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX].
Good luck [XXXXXXXXXXXX] your [XXXXXXXXXXXX].

NSA

Re:NSA already did it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45604529)

That should be "good luck [XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX] you are (or you're) [XXXXXXXXXX]".

Re: NSA already did it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45604849)

Not if the first field is "sodomizing" and the second field is "pooch".

Good luck weighing your mother. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45605547)

Good luck finding your truck.
Good luck identifying your radioactives.
Good luck prosecuting your hijackers.

Good luck verbing your noun.

Re:Good luck weighing your mother. (1)

Dins (2538550) | about a year ago | (#45606843)

Good luck Mexico, your friends.

Re:Already found (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45603945)

Apparently the container was opened, but it appears (at least most of) the Cobalt-60 is still intact.

Haha! Nothing beats a good radioactive half-life/decay joke!

Re:Already found (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45603951)

The reason why they don't include a tracking device with such shipments is because they are worried about the health effects of exposure to cell phone radiation.

Re:Already found (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year ago | (#45603967)

Glad they found the truck before a dupe was posted ;-)

Re:Already found (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45604009)

Kind of embarrassing for Slashdot to post this now.

An old hand like you should know by now that the idiots who run this site
have no shame, no pride, and no competence.

For me these days, maybe one article in ten is worth a few minutes of my time,
and honestly only then because there are still a few smart people who comment
on things.

Re:Already found (1)

Deadstick (535032) | about a year ago | (#45604299)

For me these days, maybe one article in ten is worth a few minutes of my time,

Yeah, a lot of it is just guys jerking off about how wise they are...

the scripts that run this site aren't idiots (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about a year ago | (#45604743)

Why would you insult the meta-moderation script like that? How is a script supposed to know which articles are time-sensitive? Oh, were you under the impression that some human is involved in choosing stories, aside from us users who hit the meta-mod page once a month? I don't see any sign of intelligent life.

Re:Already found (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45604127)

cuz we wouldn't get to laugh and call them stupid Beaners then!

Re:Already found (0)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#45604179)

ALREADY BEEN RECOVERED.... (and had been for hours prior to this story being posted).

http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/04/world/americas/mexico-radioactive-theft/ [cnn.com]

Re:Already found (1, Troll)

AndrewBuck (1120597) | about a year ago | (#45604509)

So a truck is stolen and then quickly recovered but due to the delay of getting upvoted enough to post to the front page of slashdot the 'stolen' story doesn't get posted until the 'recovered' story is already out. No problem though since the very first comment posted in this thread is one pointing this out to anyone reading the article who may not already know this.

This aparently wasn't good enough for you though, so you decided to respond to the comment pointing out the truck is already reovered with _yet another_ comment pointing out the very same information. Way to go.

-AndrewBuck

Re:Already found (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a year ago | (#45604255)

Apparently the container was opened,

And tonight there is a new Mexican superhero...

El Gran Hombre!

His powers stem from the fact that the radiation from the cobalt 60 made his balls grow to the size of cantaloupes, giving him the strength of 100 men (and that special something women love).

I'm working on the telenovela right now. I'm trying to decide if I should give El Gran Hombre a luchador mask. Part of me thinks it might be too cliche, but luchador masks are just so bad-ass, you know?

Re:Already found (2)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year ago | (#45604419)

"I'm trying to decide if I should give El Gran Hombre a luchador mask"

If you do, you MUST call him Strong Bad, or your audience will never forgive you.

Re:Already found (4, Funny)

plover (150551) | about a year ago | (#45604677)

Strontium Bad?

Re:Already found (1)

Radworker (227548) | about a year ago | (#45604895)

Si Si Siev errrr senior.

Say My Name (1)

RDW (41497) | about a year ago | (#45605983)

But what about his nemesis?:

http://www.window.state.tx.us/border/ch09/cobalto.html [state.tx.us]

"In the prison where he still awaits sentencing, the guards call him El Cobalto - the Cobalt Man."

Re:Say My Name (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45608615)

Maybe is the origin of the villain from Depicable Me 2, El Macho!

Re:Already found (0)

rubycodez (864176) | about a year ago | (#45604389)

tracking device? this was in Mexico. ever been there? lots of places in Mexico aren't exactly high-tech.

Re:Already found (1)

TheCarp (96830) | about a year ago | (#45608565)

As if they should talk, the US can't even send their own tracking devices into mexico with working batteries.

in Mexico? (0)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#45604429)

in Mexico? Even if they have cell coverage how good is it as weak ones can drain batteries fast.

Re:in Mexico? (1)

chuckugly (2030942) | about a year ago | (#45604683)

It's powered by Cobalt-60 .....

Re:Already found (5, Interesting)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year ago | (#45604459)

And a fine example of yellow journalism, at that. I read an earlier, more balanced new source that said the truck was a nice cargo truck, one with a crane, and it was stolen at a truck stop. Everybody thinks they wanted the truck and had no idea what it was carrying. The hysterics about terrorism in the summary are unfounded.

And I won't admit any relation to my cunning plan to manufacture refrigerators that open a Cobalt 60 door when the light goes out to keep food from ever going bad!

Especially considering dirty bomb (3, Interesting)

aepervius (535155) | about a year ago | (#45605635)

Journalist keep touting the dirty bomb concept, but even with a big blast you would not propel enough Co 60 to kill people in a wide radius. There are study on this go look it up. The only reason such a bomb would be effective would be as a *psychological* tool. Since journalist and movie media keep touting the dirty bomb danger, it becomes one in the mind of people, and they would really panick if one was really set off. The reality is that it would be nasty to clean up, but even if not cleaned up it would not be that bad.

Since a dirty bomb is unlikely to cause many deaths by radiation exposure, many do not consider this to be a weapon of mass destruction.[5] Its purpose would presumably be to create psychological, not physical, harm through ignorance , mass panic, and terror.

If a dirty radiological bomb is set off and panick subsequentely kill people, you can point the finger at journalist and media not doing their proper job to inform people about the real risk.

Re:Especially considering dirty bomb (1)

cdrudge (68377) | about a year ago | (#45607019)

Journalist keep touting the dirty bomb concept, but even with a big blast you would not propel enough Co 60 to kill people in a wide radius.

It wouldn't require a big blast. In Thailand in 2000 [wikipedia.org] , a similar source of Cobalt-60 that was removed from it's protective container by scrappers resulting in 1900 people being significantly exposed, 10 requiring hospitalization, and 3 deaths. And that was just from a canister sitting there. Take that same amount, but atomize it in an explosion in a populated area and suddenly you have a lot of people inhaling it, spread around and contaminating a decent sized area requiring a massive cleanup effort.

Even a small dirty bomb can be more devastating then a large conventional explosion without radioactive material. The conventional explosion's damage happens all at once...once the explosion is done and the dust settles, the damage is more or less done. With a dirty bomb, the damage may continue on and not be realized for years down the road with health issues.

This also doesn't even consider the public reaction to a "dirty bomb" going off. People volunteered to help when the WTC fell and ultimately the clean up and reconstruction efforts became a tourist attraction of sorts. I don't think that you'd find that happening with a dirty bomb site as soon as it happened after 9/11.

Re:Especially considering dirty bomb (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45609105)

The problem with dirty bombs is the explosion immediately alerts people to the potential danger. If you really want to kill people, I would say don't even atomize it. Just open the canister and hide it in a planter or something at the mall, or some other busy place. It would probably kill hundreds of people before anyone figured it out

Re:Especially considering dirty bomb (1)

JavaLord (680960) | about a year ago | (#45608015)

Journalist keep touting the dirty bomb concept, but even with a big blast you would not propel enough Co 60 to kill people in a wide radius. There are study on this go look it up. The only reason such a bomb would be effective would be as a *psychological* tool. Since journalist and movie media keep touting the dirty bomb danger, it becomes one in the mind of people, and they would really panick if one was really set off.

I find that some people don't even understand the difference between a 'dirty' bomb and a conventional nuclear weapon. It's an effective scare tactic. Of course if the media wanted to go into the full freakout mode, they could bring up the hypothetical "cobalt bomb" [wikipedia.org]

Re:Already found (2)

Solandri (704621) | about a year ago | (#45605985)

And a fine example of yellow journalism, at that. I read an earlier, more balanced new source that said the truck was a nice cargo truck, one with a crane, and it was stolen at a truck stop. Everybody thinks they wanted the truck and had no idea what it was carrying. The hysterics about terrorism in the summary are unfounded.

While the terrorism danger is overstated, the danger of the material in the hands of the unsuspecting or ignorant is pretty much the same. Someone already posted a link to the GoiÃnia accident so I won't repeat it. The folks who got their hands on a similar medical radioactive source there had absolutely no idea what it was. But it had a pretty blue glow, so they were determined to get the material out. After much effort they cracked open the housing, and spread the cobalt-60 around creating a disaster ranked level 5 on the INES scale (same as Three Mile Island).

While there was no terrorist intent, the result was effectively the same as a dirty bomb. 4 people killed, over 200 contaminated, over $100 million to clean up, numerous structures razed, they even had to scrape up the topsoil from the most contaminated sites. The cobalt-60 was so widely disseminated that about 15% of it was never recovered. Some of it ended up at a recycling scrapyard who melted down the container, contaminating the resulting metal ingots. And they were fortunate - the woman who suspected the substance was dangerous brought it to the hospital in a plastic bag, and the doctor was smart enough not to open the bag. If the hospital had been contaminated, the outcome could have been much, much worse.

Re:Already found (1)

rikkards (98006) | about a year ago | (#45606325)

The DOE did a study on the effects of a dirty bomb and basically came to the conclusion that the worst would be the initial blast (non-radioactive) and the panic that would ensue.
The rest would just be expensive due to cleanup. Most people's concern is not in how many tax dollars it costs after the fact but more of whether or not they are going to grow a third eye.
But yet the media makes it sound like the dirty bomb is worse i.e the area would need to be razed to the ground and uninhabitable and everyone will die of cancer 2 weeks from Saturday if they didn't melt in the initial blast (little bit of exaggeration in that but you get my point).

Re:Already found (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about a year ago | (#45607967)

Did you read the article? The bit quoted in the summary (on slashdot) was the first mention of terrorism, and, again, pointed out there was no reason to suspect it. It was halfway through the BBC article. If there's yellow journalism here, it's very watered down, and it's entirely on the AC who submitted this to slashdot. What "more balanced new source" are you talking about? Tell me you're talking about more balanced than slashdot and not BBC.

Re:Already found (1)

Rhacman (1528815) | about a year ago | (#45613265)

Irradiated food doesn't spoil but it can still go bad, usually around the time it starts making anti-Semitic slurs.

Re:Already found (1)

msauve (701917) | about a year ago | (#45604463)

It was submitted by "anonymous reader."

Protip: ignore anything on /. from anyone with "anonymous" in their name.

Re:Already found (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45604905)

It was submitted by "anonymous reader."

Protip: ignore anything on /. from anyone with "anonymous" in their name.

...and accepted by samzenpus. Ditto protip advice re:samzenpus.

Re:Already found (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45604519)

Are you sure they didn't have a tracking device? Maybe the Mexican authorities don't want people to know about such devices on these types of shipments, if they dd say something thieves would try to disable it, or plan out there escape with the shipments. Then again saying something may deter thieves from taking shipments, I didn't read the story but I am also going to guess the Drug Cartels (or, a drug cartel) was involved.

Re:Already found (1)

TheCarp (96830) | about a year ago | (#45608697)

Or they didn't want to admit they got their batteries from the ATF.

Re:Already found (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year ago | (#45604621)

This has been in all of my RSS feeds all day. Some of those feeds claim that an empty truck was recovered. I'll wait a little while before I decide that all the cobalt was recovered.

Re:Already found (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45605725)

The unfortunate human who probably opened the container with the Cobalt-60 without proper protective gear however, is most likely no longer intact.

Re:Already found (1)

JavaLord (680960) | about a year ago | (#45607961)

The unfortunate human who probably opened the container with the Cobalt-60 without proper protective gear however, is most likely no longer intact.

I was thinking the same thing. Can you picture the schmucks who hijacked this?

Criminal 1: Hey man, I wonder what we got? Maybe a truck full of ps4/Xbox one systems?
Criminal 2: (Opens box/removes shielding) Wait..what the f...is this?


On a more serious note, a former coworker works for a shipping company that is moving the xbox ones for Microsoft. There are a great deal of security measures on the trucks. Even though it's Mexico I'd expect they had some kind of security protocol if they were moving radioactive material.

Re:Already found (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | about a year ago | (#45605935)

Apparently the container was opened,

Did they find any truck thieves that died of acute radiation poisoning nearby?

Re:Already found (1)

h5inz (1284916) | about a year ago | (#45606657)

Reminds me of the Goiânia accident [wikipedia.org] . A modern horror story.

- "His six-year-old daughter, Leide das Neves Ferreira, later ate a sandwich while sitting on the floor. She was also fascinated by the blue glow of the powder, and applying it to her body, showed it off to her mother. Dust from the powder fell on the sandwich she was consuming"

Re:Already found (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | about a year ago | (#45607029)

A modern horror story.

There are a couple of stories like that. The descriptions (complete with fairly disturbing pictures) can be downloaded from the IAEA; look for "radiological accident" or "radiological incident". For example, there's a certain model of industrial sterilizer that killed several people ... the boxes containing the items to be sterilized tended to get stuck and the operators (who were never instructed on radiation safety) entered the irradiation chamber with the radiation source being in irradation position .. and got promptly irradiated (takes about 30 seconds to catch a fatal dose in there).

Re:Already found (1)

gewalker (57809) | about a year ago | (#45608743)

I read somewhere that the total load was about 40 grams of cobalt-60 -- Assuming I did the math correctly, this would result in a 5 Sv dose at a distance of 1 meter from the sample in about 30 seconds. So, about 30 seconds of exposure would be likely to kill you. Of course, since radioactivity is proportional to the inverse square of the distance poking your eyeballs up close to get a get look gives a fatal dose much more quickly.

Re:Already found (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year ago | (#45606265)

why don't they include a tracking device?

The cargo is the tracking device.

But it only works at night when you can see the glow.

Re:Already found (1)

Big Hairy Ian (1155547) | about a year ago | (#45606267)

I thought it was an advertising stunt by Taco Bell :)

Thieves May Have Lethally Irradiated Themselves (1)

Koreantoast (527520) | about a year ago | (#45608623)

I feel bad for the thieves actually; this almost like the start of a scifi movie. The thieves apparently just wanted to steal the truck, not realizing what the cargo was. When they looked through the cargo, they probably didn't know what it was, so they just popped open the containment unit, apparently took the Cobalt-60 out by hand, and dumped it in a field. Those poor sods might have picked up a lethal dose of radiation; the news was saying direct exposure could lead to death in just one to three days. Stolen Cobalt-60 Found Abandoned In Mexico [npr.org]

Re:Already found (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about a year ago | (#45609651)

Kind of embarrassing for Slashdot to post this now, considering the truck has already been found. Apparently the container was opened, but it appears (at least most of) the Cobalt-60 is still intact.

That's your fault, dude. It's been in the firehose since Wednesday, why haven't you voted for or against it? FWIW I voted it up very early yesterday morning, where have you been?

Considering the infrastructure and expense required to ship something like this (special shielded containers, etc), why don't they include a tracking device?

It had GPS, but the unit was shut off according to the TV news.

And recovered (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45603831)

Too slow on this one, it's already been recovered:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-25224304

Already found (1)

bob_super (3391281) | about a year ago | (#45603833)

Probably stolen by people who didn't know what it contained.

You're too late.
Next story.

Re:Already found (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | about a year ago | (#45605449)

That was my thought. I wonder if the perps heard some of the reports of what they'd taken, realized what they had and abandoned it.

Re:Already found (1)

bob_super (3391281) | about a year ago | (#45605471)

I didn't see pictures, but if the truck had any medical supplies markings, they may have just hoped to find prescription drugs.

Already located. (1)

Wizel603 (1367631) | about a year ago | (#45603859)

Just wow. The mainstream news articles confirming that the radioactive material was located were posted more than a half hour ago.

This has happened before. (2)

goodmanj (234846) | about a year ago | (#45603865)

1984, Ciudad Juarez: http://www.johnstonsarchive.net/nuclear/radevents/1983MEX1.html [johnstonsarchive.net]

Re:This has happened before. (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about a year ago | (#45604089)

Yes lots of industrial units for 'thickness' of metal or other industrial uses have been lost over many years.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Industrial_radiography [wikipedia.org] where they end up is ?????

Re:This has happened before. (1)

dbIII (701233) | about a year ago | (#45605797)

None of the really hot stuff lasts for very long. The sources used are tiny since it's impractical to use anything bigger. I did hear from an Indonesian engineer about using a chunk cut off the end of an old fuel rod as a neutron source for industrial radiography (in a situation where gamma is better), but he was probably just trying to scare me.

Could be used ... (0)

DavidClarkeHR (2769805) | about a year ago | (#45603875)

You're telling me that the contents of a medical supply truck could be dangerous?!

Oh wait, you're telling me they're VERY dangerous? As in, more lethal than lethal? More poisonous than poison? More toxic than ... er ... part of a bomb?

Sorry. The hijack and theft of a supply truck, in an area of the world known for theft and hijacking isn't news. Sure, it's dangerous and bad. But ... news? Not really. Someone might look in the fridge and say "Hey, I've got the ingredients for Nachos, lets have Nachos". But even crazy people don't say "Hey, I just HAPPEN to have the ingredients for a dirty bomb. Why don't we do that instead of the other bombs we were going to build?".

A dirty bomb isn't a crime of opportunity, any more than another type of bomb. Let's not pretend otherwise.

Re:Could be used ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45604049)

Crazy people say "Let's have the Dirty Nachos!" [crazyfrogs...dgrill.com]

Re:Could be used ... (1)

khallow (566160) | about a year ago | (#45605367)

You're telling me that the contents of a medical supply truck could be dangerous?!

Sure. For example, they could cause a larger loss of life than a few recent nuclear reactor meltdowns. They probably wouldn't result in the long term loss of real estate though unless someone deliberately spread the isotope via a well-designed dirty bomb.

Re:Could be used ... (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year ago | (#45605583)

Could you make a 'stealth bomb' instead? Rather than spread by explosive, pose as someone spraying for insects or mix it in with paint. Spray the offices of a target organisation. People don't walk around with giger counters - it could be months before someone realises this new cluster of strange illness is focused on a single workplace, and months more before anyone thinks to try the long-shot theory of radiation poisoning. By which time some of the employees are seriously ill, all of them have an elevated cancer risk, and the building has to be closed for weeks while it is decontaminated. Also gives you plenty of time to cover your tracks.

Re:Could be used ... (1)

khallow (566160) | about a year ago | (#45609149)

Sounds far more effective to me. Radiological bombs are overrated IMHO as a terror weapon.

Re:Could be used ... (1)

oobayly (1056050) | about a year ago | (#45614401)

This is why international terrorism (tm) will lose (if our respective governments wouldn't keep bigging them up) - they just don't have the imagination, intelligence and wherewithal to do things like that.

Re:Could be used ... (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | about a year ago | (#45605463)

A dirty bomb isn't a crime of opportunity, any more than another type of bomb. Let's not pretend otherwise.

Maybe not, but when the theft was discovered, nobody had any way of knowing if the thieves knew what they were taking. I think that the authorities were afraid that it was stolen specifically for the cobalt, and if so, if somebody was planning to build a dirty bomb for some insane reason.

At least one good thing came out of this. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45603931)

At least HUGH PICKENS DOT COM didn't beat you to posting this.

I feel sorry for him, seeing as HUGH PICKENS DOT COM barely gets to advertise his site, HUGH PICKENS DOT COM, anymore.

Re:At least one good thing came out of this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45604311)

Hugh Pickens is the boss. :)

Re: At least one good thing came out of this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45613541)

Who is "Hugh Pickens"?

Now if you were talking about HUGH PICKENS DOT COM, well then I could get behind you on that!

Outside the US (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45604069)

Probably just some poor country whom developed countries have told cannot have nuclear material, despite the fact we use it every day for medicine.

Cobalt-60 is nasty stuff (4, Interesting)

volvox_voxel (2752469) | about a year ago | (#45604111)

I knew a post-doc that worked with the stuff at the University of Chicago. One thing they tested with it was to see how long a rat would live being exposed to it. They had some kind of lead door between the rat and the source..I don't remember the specific number, but it wasn't all that long-- probably renal failure due to their kidneys not being able to handle such a massive amount of cell death... The exposure rate constant of Cobalt-60 is 1,350mR-m^2 / hr-Ci, and has a half life of 5.27 years. I wonder if the guys that opened it up are experiencing radiation sickness?

Re:Cobalt-60 is nasty stuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45605685)

Are you sure it wasn't lead poisoning [netfunny.com] ?

Re:Cobalt-60 is nasty stuff (3, Informative)

Solandri (704621) | about a year ago | (#45606067)

There was a human fatality from a medical cobalt-60 source in 1990. A worker at a hospital trying to fix an irradiating sterilizer accidentally exposed himself to the source for 1-2 minutes. He died about a month later. The IAEA report on the incident [iaea.org] is pretty thorough, including first-person details of the exposure (he felt a burning sensation in his eyes and a pounding in his head), photos, and x-rays documenting the effect of the exposure.

Re:Cobalt-60 is nasty stuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45607323)

Umm, notice the units on that number: 1,350mR-m^2 / hr-Ci Most beta and gamma emitters will be within a factor of ten off from this number, because in includes a per Curie, which indicates the amount of activity. A 1 Curie source of many common radio-isotopes will produce about the same amount of roentgens, which measures how much air is ionized by the source, with some variation due to variation in the energy of the emitted particles (including variation if more than one particle is emitted like with Co-60). The more modern grey unit at least accounts for slight variation of energy imparted, and units like REM and sievert take into the effects of different biological effectiveness.

For comparison, the lower energy emissions of I-131 would give something closer to only 200 mR-m^2 / hr-Ci, but a 1 Ci source of I-131 is on the order of 10 micrograms, while it is one milligram for Co-60. Cs-137 has a value about half of that of Co-60 also takes ~10 mg for 1 Ci, but is not used anywhere near as much because it is chemically much more difficult to handle and biologically active. Similarly, Sr-90 is much weaker in that sense, but very dangerous if it gets in the body from replacing calcium in the bone. And you can find more energetic decays, with Co-57 being something close to 5 times more energy than Co-60 per decay.

tl,dr: The exposure constant is kind of useless since most materials have a value that varies much less from that than the size of sources. Plus the danger comes down a lot to how chemically and biologically active the material is.

Re:Cobalt-60 is nasty stuff (1)

volvox_voxel (2752469) | about a year ago | (#45615061)

Here is the data-sheet where I got that number from: http://www.spec150.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/SPEC_Cobalt.pdf [spec150.com] .. This gives more details of one particular industrial source:

Focal size (in), Expected activity (Ci)

0.120, 30 to 33

0.150, 50 to 55

0.172, 75 to 80

0.187, 100 to 110

0.217, 150 to 155

0.236, 200 to 210

0.268, 290 to 300

Goiânia Accident (5, Informative)

Guillermito (187510) | about a year ago | (#45604193)

Glad it was already found.

To understand the risks that this type of events involve check what happened in Brazil several years ago when radioactive medical material went missing and ended up killing several people

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goi%C3%A2nia_accident [wikipedia.org]

Re:Goiânia Accident (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45604539)

I was actually rather expecting a mention of Thine Own Self [wikipedia.org] from /.

Re:Goiânia Accident (2)

cyberjock1980 (1131059) | about a year ago | (#45605067)

The Mexican government and several other sources have already said that they'll know who opened the container with the Co-60 soon enough. Unless they had significant amounts of shielding they could have received a lethal dose in a few minutes. They said that just 5 minutes worth of exposure will kill the individual in about 3 days.

Re:Goiânia Accident (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45605433)

Unless they had significant amounts of shielding they could have received a lethal dose in a few minutes. They said that just 5 minutes worth of exposure will kill the individual in about 3 days.

Gun totting hijackers... hmmm... If you ask me, it couldn't have happened to nicer people.

Re:Goiânia Accident (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45608031)

Haha, best part of that article: "On September 13, 1987, the guard in charge of daytime security, Voudireinão da Silva, did not show up to work, using a sick day to attend a cinema screening of Herbie Goes Bananas with his family."

"Look At The Pretty Blue Stuff!" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45604195)

I recalled this incident when I heard that story today. Some brain dead hospital admins left a machine with Caesium 137 in the hospital after it had been closed and abandoned. It was stolen and eventually ended up in the hands of people who had no idea what it was.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goi%C3%A2nia_accident [wikipedia.org]

The most chilling part is the little kid who painted designs on her chest with it.

(!!!!)

Re:"Look At The Pretty Blue Stuff!" (1)

khallow (566160) | about a year ago | (#45605407)

Some brain dead hospital admins left a machine with Caesium 137 in the hospital after it had been closed and abandoned.

Glancing at the Wikipedia article, the device then became part of a lawsuit and the hospital couldn't remove the device after that from the property due to a court order. Apparently, the court did decide it was a danger and appointed guards to patrol the hospital. One of the guards didn't show (claims he was sick). The device was stolen during that time.

Found and thieves will die (2)

Omar Armas (3035933) | about a year ago | (#45604425)

They found it with a detector and they say that people who manipulated the box will die because of the exposure. Nobody else is in risk.

Re:Found and thieves will die (1)

chuckugly (2030942) | about a year ago | (#45604699)

Grand theft auto can carry a death sentence I guess.

Re:Found and thieves will die (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | about a year ago | (#45606987)

Grand theft auto can carry a death sentence I guess.

It's not stealing the car that will kill you, it's curiosity and greed coupled with ignorance of the radiation hazard sign.

"Oh, what's in this box? It's all locked up and covered in pretty symbols, so it must be something good." ...

Re:Found and thieves will die (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45605599)

But it could have been much worse. The thieves could have wanted the material for some purpose. Murder or WMD.

The fact there was no armed government escort, indicates that we are in a period before something bad happens.

Shouldn't they weld a spot on the lid, (or something) to only allow the determined to open it?

(plus one Infor8ative) (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45604443)

(7000B+1400+700)*4 they're gone Came

All the cobalt-60 may not be accounted for (1)

volvox_voxel (2752469) | about a year ago | (#45604853)

"The container holding cobalt was found about a kilometer away from the truck and had been opened, he said." ..."At around 1 a.m. Monday, a man armed with a handgun knocked on the passenger window. When the passenger rolled down his window, the gunman demanded the keys to the vehicle, Morales said. Both the driver and his assistant were taken to an empty lot where they were bound and told not to move. They heard one of the assailants use a walkie-talkie type device or phone to tell someone, "It's done," Morales said." http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/04/world/americas/mexico-radioactive-theft/ [cnn.com] [cnn.com]

we're almost at peace with iran... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45604889)

israel needs to do another large scale terror attack to get americans scared again!

TSA John Pistol NOT Accepting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45604975)

TSA in cooperation with DEA and ATF elements is paying Mexican Drug Cartel Bosses $$$$$ to circumvent USA Boarder Policies and Airline Trans-Boarder Rules in order to Elevate TSA into a Cabinet Level Agency.

Unfortunate. A one Mr. called John Pistol, Former Lap Dog to Homeland (In)Security Agency Director Janet "Ass As Big As A Planet" Napolitano or what ever the dumb fuck calls her or itself now, is "out of luck!" per Federal Gov. Employes in the know.

Uh Oh!

There goes John boys' 401(k) retirement plan!

And, Uh Oh, there goes Jon boys' bi-weekly pay-check. OUCH!

ADMINISTRATIVE LEAVE WITHOUT PAY ... hotel hell in California they say.

Just on the Micky ... If you are driving along the the Washington Beltway and see a deshevled man lurking about ... Its John ... please do not bother him in his Holy Quest for the "Grail" as he gets quiet edgy and testy at such moments.

Just ... run'm down ... and don't bother ... i.e. don't look back in the rear-view-mirror.

Ha Ha.

Re:TSA John Pistol NOT Accepting (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year ago | (#45605611)

Almost, but you forgot to blame Obama somehow.

A nice scenario! (1)

Jimpqfly (790794) | about a year ago | (#45606035)

for "Machete Kills Again"!

news from the field (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45607439)

It seems that first the truck was hijacked on the road just as the same way many other trucks are raided by crime on interstate roads. But once the robbers found what was in the cargo box, they abbandoned the truck near a small village.

Later some poor guys found the truck and opened the box, and thought the odd shape device was some kind of truck part and took it to their near workshop to sell it as scrap metal.

The army was already looking for the missing truck and when found it then followed the tracks to the village and found again the nuclear core abbandoned in a field, it seems the guys tried to discard it again.

Recent reports indicate that the zone is quarantined since the radioactive core was extracted from the protective transport encase and not sure if there is a radioactive leak but news are reporting the guys that found it are ill or even agonizing.

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