A car burglar at the Wal-Mart in Alice swiped a little more than they bargained for last Friday.
An unknown person broke into a pick-up truck belonging to ProTechnics, a Houston-based oil and gas exploration company. In the truck's toolbox the alleged thief found a clear plastic bag containing six shrink-wrapped metal containers, each of which in turn contained a glass vial.
It was what was inside those vials - radioactive materials known as tracer sands -- that caused the company to offer a $1,000 reward for the package's safe return.
That's right - there was a plastic bag full of six radioactive canisters in the freakin' toolbox of a pick-up truck at a Wal-Mart in the Valley. Apparently Homer Simpson lives and breathes among us and works for a Houston oil and gas exploration company.
Wednesday, the Alice Police announced that the materials had turned up at an undisclosed location. No more information was forthcoming from the police, and Hair Balls's call to ProTechnics's legal department was not immediately returned.
Tracer sands are used to differentiate shipments of oil belonging to different companies. Several different oil companies often share pipelines, and tracer sands function somewhat similarly to a cattle brand.
Science Clarified picks up the tale:
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Each company would be assigned a different tracer. A technician at the receiving end of the pipeline can use a Geiger counter to make note of changes in radiation observed in the incoming oil. Such a change would indicate that oil for a different company was being received.
Kinda cool, eh?
Gosh, you just can't have six canisters of radioactive materials vanish on the Mexican border without a bunch of crazies spouting off these days...