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Mexican Hospital Quarantined Due to Radiation, Six Reported Sick – Possibly From Stolen Radioactive Waste

Mexican officials quarantine hospital with radiation sickness patients
(Photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images)

Remember that truck Newstalk 870 told you about full of old medical equipment radioactive waste that was stolen North of Mexico City?

Now, in a panic that is sweeping the city of Pachua and surrounding areas,  officials have blocked access to a hospital where reportedly six people are being treated for symptoms of radiation exposure.   The theft November 30th of a truck full of Cobalt-60 triggered alerts in six Mexican states, Mexico City, and internationally.  Mexican officials released the news Friday, saying in the last 24-48 hours the sick people were admitted to the hospital, which has now been quarantined.

The U.S. Border Patrol had been sweeping all trucks and vehicles with Geiger Counters to check for radiation at checkpoints.   Mexican officials would not say if the six people, most of whom were nauseated, vomiting and showing other signs of radiation poisoning, were the thieves.

The truck has since been found about 25 miles from where it was first stolen, and the clearly marked radioactive container (carrying the yellow and black international radioactive signs) was broken open.  Radioactive pellets, the cargo, were found scattered in a field about a half-mile from where the truck was found.

Such thefts have occurred before, but Mexican officials say the burglars were after the vehicles because of their value, and didn’t know what the cargo was.  In this case, it was the largest shipment of radioactive material ever stolen in that country.   The Colbalt-60, old spent radioactive materials from x-ray machines and other equipment, is said to be carrying a level of about 3,000 Curies of radiation.   That’s enough that if you were exposed to it within a few feet, you will probably be dead within a few minutes to hours!

Officials say the materials were far enough away from a nearby town that no evacuation was needed, but it will be some time before they can be retrieved.  Due to the high levels of radiation,  specially equipped teams will have to be send to pick up the waste.

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