About 500 people were evacuated from the New Mexico State Fairgrounds Expo as a precaution Saturday evening after low levels of radiation were detected, police said.
A Geiger counter registered the presence of radiation after two objects were discovered at the 236-acre fairgrounds in the heart of Albuquerque, said Lt. Juan Martinez, a spokesman for New Mexico state police.
The objects, one appearing to be a pipe bomb and another that appeared to be a paint can, were found under a car parked near the fairground’s fine arts building, Martinez said. One object was marked “nuclear” and the other, “cobalt,” he said.
Police believe the radiation was coming from Cobalt 57, a material used in the medical and plumbing industries. Cobalt-57 is a radioactive poison used in biological research. A bomb squad unit and hazardous materials teams were searching the area for any additional devices.