MEXICO CITY (AP) — A missing shipment of radioactive cobalt-60 was found Wednesday near where the stolen truck transporting the material was abandoned in central Mexico state, the country's nuclear safety director said.
The highly radioactive material was found in an empty lot about a kilometer (a half a mile) from Hueypoxtla, an agricultural town of about 4,000 people, but it poses no threat or a need for an evacuation, said Juan Eibenschutz, director general of the National Commission of Nuclear Safety and Safeguards.
"Fortunately there are no people where the source of radioactivity is," Eibenschutz said.
The cargo truck hauling the extremely dangerous cobalt-60 that had been used in medical equipment was stolen from a gas station early Tuesday, and authorities had put out an alert in six central states and the capital looking for it. Police and the military joined in the hunt.
The truck was taking the cobalt to a nuclear waste facility in the state of Mexico, which is adjacent to Mexico City.
Eibenschutz said direct exposure to cobalt-60 could result in death within a few minutes. He said hospitals near the area were asked to report if they treat anyone exposed to radioactivity.
"This is a radioactive source that is very strong," Eibenschutz told The Associated Press.