The Goiânia accident is today’s failure

What was the Goiânia accident you ask? Why it was a Five on the International Nuclear Event Scale, Chernobyl was a Seven, the scale only goes to seven.

The stage is set in the city of Goiânia, in the Brazilian state of Goiás, in the hallowed year of 1987, the Cold War is slowly grinding to a halt, Chernobyl is still fresh in everyone’s memories.

The backstory, a specialized radiotherapy clinic relocates to brand new buildings, the previous one’s being rented, they left behind a 1977 External beam radiotherapy machine behind, those things are usually quite large.

A conflict happened between the clinic and the rental company, the courts ordered the building sealed, BEFORE the Cesium source of radiation was removed.

To the credit of the clinic, they tried to remove it, the rental company prevented it, including calling the cops on them, they even warned the Brazilian National Nuclear Energy Commission repeatedly that there was a serious radiological hazard within the building.

Now, as long as the source was nice and sealed inside of the machine, inside a nice and sealed building, no worries.

There were no guards and on the 13th of September, a scavenger got in and stole a whole bunch of stuff, including the source, which he belived could be sold as scrap metal.

He pierced the seal of the containment unit, he SCOOPED OUT SOME OF THE MATERIAL, IT WAS GLOWING BLUE!

He then sold it to a scarp merchant, who then scattered the glowing blue dust on HIS FUCKING KITCHEN FLOOR!

Then his daughter ate a sandwich, smeared the dust on her body, in the sandwich, all of it radioactive as all mighty fuck.

It was noticed in the end, hundreds of houses had to be destroyed, topsoil removed, items burned.

  • Leide das Neves Ferreira, died, daughter of the scrap merchant, it took her a month to die, she was buried in a lead casket, she was six.
  • Gabriela Maria Ferreira, the mother of above, wife of the scrap merchant. Also a month.
  • Israel Baptista dos Santos, an employee, only lasted six days.
  • Admilson Alves de Souza, another employee, lasted about a month.

Devair Ferreira, the scrap merchant survived his exposure, he died of cirrhosis of the liver in 1994, you can probably guess why, he did accidentally caused the death of his daughter and wife.

The lesson? All radioactive material is horrendously dangerous, even stuff that’s used to save lives.

There was a massive Organizational failure here to, not in the aftermath, the Brazilian authorities were able to handle that, but in everything else too.

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