The United Nations nuclear watchdog has announced that a truck containing ‘a dangerous radiation source’ has been stolen in Mexico.
The radiotherapy machine, used in the treatment of cancer was being transported to a storage facility when it was stolen.
The International Atomic Energy Agency has highlighted some industrial and medical radioactive sources as needing special precautions. These machines, such as fixed radiotherapy machines, use cobalt-60, caesium-137, strontium-90 and iridium-192, all of which emit high levels of radiation.
None of the components can be used to make a nuclear device, but all of them could be used to make a dirty bomb. Also known as a Radiological Dispersal Device, a dirty bomb uses a source of radiation and conventional explosives. When the bomb explodes, radiation is scattered, making the area radioactive and curtailing use of the area without full radiological precautions.
Dirty bombs are not primarily aimed at killing people. Their use is in the disruption that they cause.
Imagine that a dirty bomb went off on Wall Street, or outside a major airport, or on the top edge of a medium height building in a busy urban area. That area would be closed, and until a lengthy and costly clean up was completed, it would remain closed. The economic damage would be huge. As these bombs use conventional explosives there could well be infrastructure damage which again takes time and money to rectify.
These devices do not have to be big, it wouldn’t be like looking for a truck bomb. The radioactive component is frighteningly small, and the amount of explosive would only need to be enough to break open the canister, though a larger amount would disperse the radiation over a wider area.
Chris Carrington is a writer, researcher and lecturer with a background in science, technology and environmental studies. Chris is an editor for The Daily Sheeple, where this first appeared. Wake the flock up!