December 29, 2005

Venezuela recovers stolen radioactive capsule

CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) - Venezuela said on Thursday
it had found a capsule of highly radioactive material that was
aboard a truck stolen 10 days ago.

Officials had warned of a potential radioactive hazard
after thieves seized the truck carrying the capsule in its
lunchbox-sized protective container.

It was the third incident involving such devices this year.

"The radioactive capsule was found in Yaritagua in Yaracuy
State thanks to the intelligence work of the National Guard,"
the Interior and Justice Ministry said in a statement.

Officials said an investigative police detective, two state
security police agents and a salesman were arrested in
connection with the theft.

The statement did not mention a possible motive. Officials
previously said they thought it was simply a stolen vehicle

Energy Ministry specialists were sent to the region to
examine the capsule, the statement said.

The device contains Iridium-192, which emits powerful gamma
radiation and is used for industrial radiography, such as for
detecting faults in underground industrial pipes.

Two Iridium-192 capsules disappeared in two Venezuelan
states in March this year. One has been found and authorities
suspect the other was dumped in Lake Maracaibo in western