Goiânia Accident - South America's Nuclear Tragedy | Summary and Q&A

September 4, 2021
Kyle Hill
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Goiânia Accident - South America's Nuclear Tragedy


Two scavengers in Goyonja, Brazil, unknowingly discovered a shiny metal capsule containing cesium-137, resulting in a nuclear disaster that contaminated an entire city.

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Key Insights

  • 💀 Abandoned radioactive sources, like the cesium-137 device, can pose significant dangers when not properly managed and regulated.
  • 🖐️ The curiosity and social nature of humans played a role in the spread of contamination in Goyonja.
  • ☢️ Radioactive materials, such as cesium-137, can easily disperse through the environment, causing widespread contamination.
  • ❓ Immediate and effective response from authorities is crucial in mitigating the effects of nuclear disasters.
  • 🛟 The Goyonja incident serves as a reminder of the potential risks associated with nuclear reactions and the importance of their proper management and communication.
  • 🌗 The incident had long-lasting effects on the physical and psychological well-being of the affected individuals.
  • 🍉 Orphan sources of radiation pose a unique challenge in terms of safety and containment.


in the fall of 1987 scrapper roberto dos santos elves decided that he could no longer ignore the rumors he'd been hearing hidden in the crumbling and cracking building near his home in goyonja brazil supposedly was a scavenger's treasure a treasure that looked like another man's trash it was september 10th of that year when alves and his friend wag... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: How did scavengers discover the shiny metal capsule containing cesium-137?

Scrapper Roberto Alves and his friend Wagner Pejera stumbled upon the capsule while exploring a derelict building near their home in Goyonja.

Q: What were the immediate health effects experienced by individuals exposed to the cesium-137?

Individuals exposed to the cesium-137 powder experienced symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, skin lesions, burns, and acute radiation sickness.

Q: How did the authorities handle the situation and contain the source of radiation?

Once the cause of the health issues was identified, authorities evacuated contaminated individuals, sealed contaminated sites, and set up monitoring equipment to screen for radiation. They also employed decontamination measures such as showers and bagging contaminated clothes.

Q: What were the long-term effects of the Goyonja incident on the affected individuals and the city?

The incident resulted in the loss of lives, destruction of homes, economic catastrophe, and psychological trauma for the affected individuals. Many individuals suffered from long-term health issues and faced social ostracization.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • In 1987, two scavengers in Goyonja found a shiny metal capsule containing cesium-137 and distributed the glowing powder among friends and family.

  • The radiation from the cesium-137 caused severe health issues, including acute radiation sickness, vomiting, diarrhea, and skin lesions.

  • The incident led to the contamination of an entire city, the evacuation of affected individuals, and the demolition of contaminated sites.

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