Story highlights

A pickup with radioactive material inside was stolen this weekend

Mexican authorities issued an alert for central Mexico to locate it

The material could be deadly

(CNN) —  

The Mexican government has issued an alert for a large swath of central Mexico after the theft of an industrial device containing radioactive material.

The device, used for industrial radiography, was being transported in a pickup that was stolen early Saturday in the state of Queretaro, Mexico’s National Commission of Nuclear Security and Safety said.

The agency did not say whether the radioactive material was the target of the theft, or if the truck thieves made off with more than they bargained for.

The radioactive material inside the device is Iridium-192, the nuclear commission said. The material can be deadly if removed from its protective shielding.

Mexcan authorities released this photo of the type of device that was stolen.
Mexcan authorities released this photo of the type of device that was stolen.
PHOTO: Mexico's Interior Ministry

The nuclear commission was alerted to the stolen radioactive material Sunday and issued an alert to authorities in six Mexican states and the Federal Highway Police to be on the lookout for the stolen Chevrolet Silverado truck.

The truck and radioactive material belonged to a company called Central Industrial Maintenance.

An industrial radiography device is basically a tool that uses the radioactive isotope Iridium-192 to beam gamma radiation. It can be used to test pipelines for structural problems such as weakening welds.

Gamma rays emitted by the isotope can deliver fatal doses of radiation at close range.

A similar device went missing from a contractor in Iraq this year, creating concerns that terrorists could use it to contaminate water supplies or help make a “dirty” bomb. After the disappearance made headlines, the device was found, undamaged, near a police station.