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  • A young girl is sitting in her kitchen absolutely mesmerized by the gift her father just brought

  • home.

  • That was a seemingly magical, glowing powder, that glimmered on the kitchen floor like something

  • out of a fairytale.

  • The six year old scoops up handfuls of the radiant dustshe gets some of it in her

  • sandwichshe smothers her face and body with it and excitedly says to her pop, “Look

  • at me…I'm glowing.

  • I'm a sparkling little angel.”

  • A few weeks later and the child was no longer magicalshe was dying.

  • Her hair had fallen outher body was swollen.

  • She was bleeding from the inside and her lungs and kidneys weren't functioning very well.

  • When this girl was laid to rest she had to be buried in a specially-made fiberglass coffin

  • lined with lead.

  • That day was hellish for all involved because news of the glowing girl had gotten around.

  • A riot broke out at the cemetery.

  • Thousands of people were in a state of shock and fear.

  • This dead girl, they shouted, would poison the very land.

  • You might now be thinking, “What the hell was all that about!”

  • This is the story of what's now called theGoiania accident”, or sometimes, “Brazil's

  • Chernobyl”, and now we'll take you back to the start.

  • Goiânia is the capital city of the state of Goiás in Central-Western Brazil.

  • This city would become known for being home to one of the world's worst nuclear disasters,

  • although the story still remains relatively unknown.

  • In the Fall of 1987, a couple of guys, guys we might call scavengers, had found a source

  • where they might find a bit of scrap to sell.

  • This was an abandoned hospital, a veritable treasure trove for men down on their luck

  • and experiencing hard times.

  • Part of this hospital when it was up and running, like most other hospitals in the world had

  • had a radiotherapy department.

  • If a patient needed this treatment then of course the hospital needed a source of radiation.

  • This is not the kind of thing that hospitals just leave lying around when they close up

  • though- or at least they shouldn't.

  • Unfortunately for a lot of people, lying around in that hospital was a small canister made

  • of steel and lead.

  • The guys, named Roberto dos Santos Alves and Wagner Mota Pereira, snuck into the abandoned

  • radiotherapy department and they discovered this mysterious canister.

  • What they were totally unaware of was that inside that canister was a capsule that contained

  • around 93 grams (3.3 oz) of deadly radioactive caesium chloride made with the radioisotope,

  • caesium-137.

  • This stuff in short is used to kill cancer cells in humans, and only a very tiny amount

  • is used during radiation therapy.

  • People have actually died during therapy, just because they were exposed to too much

  • of the stuff.

  • In this case, the canister was part of equipment that had been used for something called External-beam

  • radiation therapy.

  • That just means pointing a beam at a certain part of the body and blasting where the cancer

  • is.

  • Roberto and Wagner had no idea about this kind of treatment and simply thought they

  • had found a good bit of scrap.

  • They threw it into a wheelbarrow with some other items and off they went on their merry

  • way.

  • The date was September 13, 1987, and the two guys were heading to Roberto's house with

  • their haul.

  • When they got there they proceeded to try and prize open the canister.

  • It looked expensive, and they damn well wanted to know what was inside.

  • Later that night, both men started throwing up and they turned a shade of yellow.

  • That didn't stop them, though, and they fought with that canister into the night.

  • The next day, Wagner got really dizzy and experienced severe diarrhea.

  • He seemed to be the worst hit, but he only went to the hospital when his left hand swelled

  • up and looked like a boxing glove.

  • He ended up having to have a few of his fingers partially amputated, and he and Roberto felt

  • ill for a while to come.

  • The thing was, he had no idea that a hunk of metal and lead had caused the loss of his

  • fingers.

  • The doctors told him that he had a bad case of food poisoning.

  • Word got back to Roberto about the food poisoning, and while he felt bad for his fingerless buddy,

  • he kept hacking away at that canister.

  • He eventually got into it and unbeknownst to him, what he now held in his hand was the

  • caesium capsule.

  • That hand, and arm, would eventually be surgically removed, but much, much worse was to come.

  • Before the amputation and before the painful blisters appeared on Roberto's arm, what

  • he saw in that capsule was a spell-binding, glowing blue powder.

  • He wondered what it was, and thought perhaps it was an explosive.

  • That made sense in a way since the canister looked something like a bomb.

  • He tried to ignite the stuff and nothing happened, and now feeling a little upset that all he'd

  • discovered was a powder, albeit a magical fluorescent powder, he took all his haul to

  • another scrap yard and sold it.

  • The owner of that yard was one Devair Alves Ferreira, a man whose life was about to change

  • forever.

  • Little did he know that he had purchased a time bomb that would lead him into a very

  • unpleasant downward spiral.

  • On the night of the purchase he was walking around his scrapyard when he saw something

  • awesome, something spooky, otherworldly.

  • Before his eyes he witnessed a blue light lighting up the dark scrapyard, and it was

  • being emitted by that chunk of metal he'd just bought.

  • Devair was far from a scientist, and what he thought he had on his hands was something

  • related to the supernatural.

  • He then got his two young junkyard employees to get more of the blue stuff out of the capule.

  • This job would turn out to be a fate worse than death.

  • Excitedly, he brought that capsule and its glowing powder into the house.

  • The next day he got his friends round to the house to witness this spectacular glowing

  • dust.

  • They loved it, and some of them took some of it home with them.

  • Meanwhile, Devair's wife, Gabriela, was starting to feel rather unwell.

  • No one of course thought it was anything to do with the glowing dust, and so Devair sold

  • a bit of that stuff to his brother Ivo.

  • What was left of the dust and the bounty from the scrapyard was sold to yet another scrapyard,

  • and by this time Ivo was already playing around with the blue dust.

  • He brought the beast into his own home and spread some around on the kitchen floor.

  • This was when his six-year old daughter, Leide das Neves Ferreira, became overwhelmed with

  • excitement and started throwing the magical dust around and applying it to her body.

  • She saw some of it get into her sandwich and thinking it was probably harmless she just

  • ate it.

  • That would turn out to be the biggest mistake in her life.

  • Another person there put his finger into the dust and started drawing on his chest.

  • That finger you now probably know, stood little chance of staying attached to the man's

  • body.

  • Meanwhile, Gabriela noticed that she wasn't the only one feeling really ill.

  • It seemed to her that anyone who had come in contact with that magical dust was falling

  • ill.

  • She was the first person to put two and two together and she put the canister and the

  • capsule into a plastic bag and headed to the local hospital.

  • Soon a physicist was on the job and he had the equipment to measure radiation.

  • He pretty much knew what he was looking at and soon discovered that the scrap haul was

  • emitting very dangerous levels of radiation.

  • What happened next was what you might call the beginning of a national disaster.

  • The local and national government were called and radiation experts turned up at those scrapyards,

  • the hospital, and all the people's houses that had been exposed to the radiation.

  • Some of those people were now in hospital and they were gravely ill.

  • Others who'd been in contact with the magic blue dust were worried out of their minds.

  • In fact, when the people of the city found out what had happened they wondered if they

  • had a nuclear disaster on their hands and they cursed those scavengers for what they'd

  • brought into their city.

  • 130,000 people in total went to visit doctors, fearing that they had come close to the source,

  • although only 250 people in the end had actually been exposed to dangerous levels of radiation.

  • Just twenty folks experienced radiation sickness and had to spend some time in intensive care.

  • A further thousand people were tested, and while they had been exposed to more radiation

  • than they would have in everyday life, the chances of it affecting them negatively were

  • pretty much none.

  • Still, hysteria was pervasive, and the people couldn't believe that something so dangerous

  • could have been left behind at an abandoned hospital and found by dudes looking for junk

  • to sell.

  • 20 years later it was determined that caesium-137 related diseases were no higher in that city

  • than they were in the rest of Brazil.

  • Even though that was the case, compensation was paid to people who had been contaminated.

  • In fact, the hysteria got so much that Goiania became associated with radiation and many

  • people stopped visiting there.

  • Products made in that city were also shunned by outsiders, since people feared that what

  • came out of Goiania had to be contaminated.

  • This turned out to be quite the overreaction.

  • But what about those who'd discovered the stuff.

  • What was their fate?

  • Well, they couldn't exactly go home.

  • During the clean-up operation it was discovered that massive amounts of radiation were at

  • the houses and the junkyards of those people who'd played with the blue dust.

  • Those houses were demolished and the area around the junkyards was sectioned off.

  • Another 42 houses in the areas close to those yards were also demolished.

  • The people who'd lived in those houses of course had moved around before they knew about

  • the reality of the blue dust, and so the radiation spread to vehicles.

  • Fourteen cars had been contaminated and had to be destroyed or decontaminated, and three

  • buses were found to have been exposed to high amounts of radiation.

  • Five pigs were also contaminated, but we can't tell you what their fate was.

  • We guess it involved a trip to the incinerator.

  • Acid and Prussian blue was used to decontaminate surfaces, and the latter was also used in

  • an attempt to decontaminate affected people.

  • The problem was, some of the victims as you know had literally covered themselves in that

  • stuff and the unfortunate girl had even eaten some.

  • As you also know, she died a horrible death and her funeral caused a riot.

  • Even though her body was encased so the radiation would never spread into the soil, local folks

  • were not happy about the girl being laid to rest near their patch of land.

  • So, what about the two guys who first found the canister, Roberto and Wagner?

  • Well, from what we can see, besides some missing fingers and a lost arm , those guys were ok.

  • It was the two Devair families and the workers at the Devair junkyard who were the biggest

  • victims.

  • Some people who had visited their house to watch the spectacle ofCarnival Glitter

  • suffered radiation burns and some folks who'd dipped their fingers into the dust lost those

  • fingers.

  • Two workers, sadly aged just 18 and 22, in the Devair junkyard died of internal hemorrhaging

  • and other health problems a month after playing with the dust, and as for Mr. Devair himself,

  • well, he surprisingly survived the ordeal.

  • His wife, Gabriela, also soon lost her hair, and in weeks after exposure she began bleeding

  • from the inside.

  • About a month after she messed around with the magic dust, Gabriella's body and mind

  • were devastated by the radiation and she died.

  • As for Devair and Ivo Ferreira, the two brothers, it was unusual that they survived even though

  • they'd been exposed to such high doses of radiation.

  • We say survived, but you can only imagine what their lives were like after that.

  • Not only did they mourn for the people who had died, but most of Brazil had painted them

  • as idiots and killers.

  • They became outcasts, pariahs on the streets of Goiânia.

  • No one wanted to go near them, and no one wanted to communicate with them.

  • Devair fell into despair and started drinking heavily, and consequently he died of cirrhosis,

  • still a fairly young man.

  • Ivo lasted longer, but his depression led to ill-health and he also died prematurely.

  • Even though the story has been compared to the Chernobyl disaster, it wasn't anywhere

  • near as big.

  • The Chernobyl clean-up operation was so much larger and the spread of various radioactive

  • contaminants was far more wide-reaching.

  • The stories are not really comparable.

  • Brazil's accident was fairly easy to contain.

  • The story is just outstanding because of the negligence involved and the fact the country

  • was put into a state of fear because of a few people that wanted some extra cash for

  • junk.

  • Now go watch these two shows, “How I Survived ChernobylandWhat Caused the Catastrophic

  • Nuclear Accident in Chernobyl?”

A young girl is sitting in her kitchen absolutely mesmerized by the gift her father just brought

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B1 radiation dust canister roberto glowing hospital

Real Life Nuclear Horror - The Goiânia Accident

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    Summer posted on 2021/06/19
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