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Latino Daily News

Thursday June 19, 2014

Mexican Authorities Recover Missing Radioactive Material

Mexican Authorities Recover Missing Radioactive Material

Photo: Radioactive material

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The radioactive substances stolen from a government research facility last week in Tultitlan, a city in the central state of Mexico, were recovered early Wednesday, officials said.

The stolen piece of equipment containing cesium-137 and americium-beryllium was “identified” and “retrieved from the place” so it can be “fully safeguarded without affecting the population,” emergency management coordinator Luis Felipe Puente said in a Twitter post.

The equipment, which is used to take soil readings, was left next to a canal and retrieved by emergency management personnel in an operation that also involved the Federal Police, state police and soldiers, Puente said.

Indications are that the apparatus, which was taken from a National Construction Laboratory warehouse on June 8, was not tampered with, but it will be examined by the National Nuclear Safety Commission, or CNSNS.

The alert issued by the emergency management office last week to officials in the Federal District and the states of Mexico, Morelos, Puebla, Tlaxcala, Guerrero, Michoacan, Guanajuato, Queretaro, Hidalgo, Oaxaca and Veracruz has been cancelled.

The measurement device had warning labels on it, officials said.

Exposure to the cesium-137 and americium-beryllium inside the equipment was not likely to cause permanent injury, the CNSNS said.

Handling the material without proper safeguards or spending an extended period in close proximity to the radioactive substances, however, could result in temporary health problems, officials said.

Last December, armed robbers stole a truck transporting cobalt-60 from a hospital in the northwestern border city of Tijuana to a radioactive waste storage center.

Authorities located the truck and the radioactive material days later and arrested six people in connection with the heist.

None of the suspects suffered any effects of radiation exposure and officials found no trace of contamination at the site where the truck was recovered.

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