RIO DE JANEIRO – A vehicle carrying a capsule filled with radioactive material was stolen over the weekend in Rio de Janeiro, Brazilian police said.
Armed men intercepted the vehicle, which belonged to an industrial maintenance firm, on the highway that links Rio to Sao Paulo.
The vehicle’s occupants warned the robbers about the presence of the potentially dangerous cargo, police said.
The stolen vehicle was transporting Selenium-75, a radioactive substance with industrial applications, the maintenance firm said.
Inside the capsule, the material poses no risk, but a leak of the Selenium-75 could have serious effects for human health and the environment, authorities said.
Officials fear a repeat of what happened in the central state of Goiania in 1987, when a scavenger forced open a capsule of Cesium-137 that a clinic illegally discarded at a dump. Four people died and dozens were sickened in Brazil’s worst-ever accident involving radioactive material. EFE