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12/04/2013 05:54 am ET | Updated Dec 04, 2013

Truck Carrying Nuclear Waste Stolen In Mexico: IAEA

A truck carrying nuclear waste was stolen in Mexico earlier this week, Agence France-Presse reported.

The truck was transporting the radioactive isotope cobalt-60 from a hospital in Tijuana to a radioactive waste storage facility when it was taken on Monday, NBC noted.

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mexican authorities are currently conducting a search for the missing truck, and have issued a press release to alert the public.

Cobalt-60, which is primarily used in medical treatments, cannot be utilized in a conventional nuclear weapon; however, it could be added to a "dirty bomb." Such a device could potentially spread the radioactive material over a wide area.

In a statement, the IAEA cautioned anyone against trying to access the material inside the truck.

"At the time the truck was stolen, the source was properly shielded. However, the source could be extremely dangerous to a person if removed from the shielding, or if it was damaged," it said.

Exposure to large sources of cobalt-60 can cause skin burns, acute radiation sickness or death, the CDC reports.

The vehicle was stolen from a gas station near Mexico City and is described by local media as a 2.5-tonne Volkswagen Worker truck. At the time of this writing, no description of the thieves had been released.

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