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Thread: Another Goiania ?

  1. #1 Another Goiania ? 
    Moderator Moderator Markus Hanke's Avatar
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    Have a read here :

    ‘Extremely dangerous’ radioactive material stolen in Mexico

    Hopefully these clowns cop on before we have another Goiania incident on our hands...


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      Forum Freshman DogLady's Avatar
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      Oh, my God. That is a frightening possibility. I wish they had listed how much radioactive cobalt was thought to be taken.

      Clarissa


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      Moderator Moderator Markus Hanke's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by DogLady View Post
      Oh, my God. That is a frightening possibility. I wish they had listed how much radioactive cobalt was thought to be taken.
      For a cobalt teletherapy device ( such as the Siemens Gammatron-3 for example ) you would be looking at a source on the order of 150 Tera Becquerel, which is pretty substantial. Standing directly in the unshielded beam produced by a device like this at a distance of 3 feet would expose you to a dose on the order of 5 Gy/h, which is lethal if the full body is affected, and will give severe radiation burns of applied locally ( actual photo here, discretion advised ). Luckily the cobalt-60 in such machines comes in the form of solid metal pellets, so it isn't water soluble and hence not quite as easy to spread as the caesium-137 powder in the Goiania incident. It's still very dangerous though.
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    • #4  
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      Quote Originally Posted by Markus Hanke View Post
      Have a read here :

      ‘Extremely dangerous’ radioactive material stolen in Mexico

      Hopefully these clowns cop on before we have another Goiania incident on our hands...
      Reading through the second link provided made me take pause: Early on, it seemed to imply only gamma radiation was emitted by the material in question. Checking revealed Cesium 137 is a Beta emitter, decaying to Barium 137, which is indeed a gamma emitter. Then it went on to state many people were found to contain radioactive materials in their bodies.

      As far as I understand it, gamma radiation is not capable of producing "secondary radiation" in objects through which it passes. If it were, everything in the local X-Ray facility would be radioactive! So, now thoroughly confused, several new questions arise. First, the Cs 137 emits Beta radiation. It decays to Barium 137m, a gamma emitter having half-life of only 153 seconds. Furthermore, do these decays produce any "free" neutrons at all? Neutrons are capable of being captured by nuclei of many materials, thus forming both radioactive and non-radioactive isotopes, right? How then if no neutrons were involved, did the people present with radioactive materials in their bodies?

      Then came the light! The folks had ingested the stuff! My, how shallow my understanding is of all this! jocular
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      Moderator Moderator Markus Hanke's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by jocular View Post
      How then if no neutrons were involved, did the people present with radioactive materials in their bodies?
      Yes they did, since some of them ingested contaminated materials, or the caesium powder itself. Caesium-137 has a half life of just over 30 years and is highly soluble in water ( meaning also that it is easily absorbed into the body ), so it has huge potential to spread over a wide area. Attempts were made to decorporate the stuff using a substance called "Prussian Blue", but those attempts came too late for some, as you will have read in the article.
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      A report on persons hospitalized, below:


      Police block Mexico hospital, 6 may have radiation
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      Forum Professor pyoko's Avatar
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      A long time ago it was negligence. But this time it being a purposeful theft I doubt they will simply release it all over the place. This would be a targeted weapon at an individual. So nothing to worry about (apart whoever crossed them).
      It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.
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    • #8  
      Moderator Moderator Markus Hanke's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by jocular View Post
      A report on persons hospitalized, below:
      Police block Mexico hospital, 6 may have radiation
      So they did open the containment unit ! What a bunch of clowns. Like I said previously, it is really lucky that the cobalt comes in the form of solid pellets, and not as a soluble powder as is the case for caesium-137, or else Mexico would now have a major incident at its hands. Let's hope that everyone affected will be ok. The pellets on the roadside should be covered with boric acid, and enclosed in a section of concrete pipe which is then filled with cement. Best way to transport it away safely.
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      Forum Freshman DogLady's Avatar
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      I hope any others exposed will be ok, but I doubt the idiots who opened the container will be. It wouldn't take more than a minute, if that, to get a lethal dose of radiation.
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      Moderator Moderator Markus Hanke's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by DogLady View Post
      I hope any others exposed will be ok, but I doubt the idiots who opened the container will be. It wouldn't take more than a minute, if that, to get a lethal dose of radiation.
      For a cobalt-60 source of 3000 Curies ( as mentioned in the article ), you'd get a fatal dose within 20-30 minutes of continuous exposure I would guess.
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    • #11  
      Forum Freshman DogLady's Avatar
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      Well, that might give them some chance of survival, then. After reading that Wiki article on Goiania, I was surprised at how many abandoned or untracked radiotherapy unit incidents had occurred. Guess I was just thinking of nuclear power plant disasters. Didn't think of all the other things ionizing radiation was used for as being a source of problems.

      Clarissa
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    • #12  
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      Quote Originally Posted by Markus Hanke View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by DogLady View Post
      I hope any others exposed will be ok, but I doubt the idiots who opened the container will be. It wouldn't take more than a minute, if that, to get a lethal dose of radiation.
      For a cobalt-60 source of 3000 Curies ( as mentioned in the article ), you'd get a fatal dose within 20-30 minutes of continuous exposure I would guess.
      Your knowledge and understanding of these things is undisputed. Nonetheless, it's imperatively consequential that the distance averaged between those irradiated and the intensity of the source are unquestionably important. Even (I think) the least educated (nowadays) are privy to keeping the hell away from radiation sources, assuming these "clowns" have any current education at all. And, I suppose in an even less humane point of view, what if the "thugs" succumbed to their tom-foolery? No loss. jocular
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    • #13  
      Moderator Moderator Markus Hanke's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by jocular View Post
      Nonetheless, it's imperatively consequential that the distance averaged between those irradiated and the intensity of the source are unquestionably important.
      Absolutely. I didn't mean to imply anything else. The numbers I gave would pertain to someone standing immediately next to the source, no more than 3 feet or so away, and directly in the beam. Obviously if you stand far away you will generally receive a smaller dose.

      Even (I think) the least educated (nowadays) are privy to keeping the hell away from radiation sources, assuming these "clowns" have any current education at all.
      Hm, interesting point. Does everyone in the world understand the meaning of the trefoil ( radiation warning ) symbol, regardless of wether they are educated or not ? That symbol is found both on the outside of the machine ( in several places ), as well as on the internal components. Yet they still opened it. The same happened during the Goiania incident; in fact not even the local medical staff were able to correctly recognise the symptoms of acute radiation poisoning, it took a physicist to tell that something was amiss...
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    • #14  
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      Quote Originally Posted by Markus Hanke View Post
      ..... in fact not even the local medical staff were able to correctly recognise the symptoms of acute radiation poisoning, it took a physicist to tell that something was amiss...
      I don't wonder, given that radiation poisoning causes symptoms common to so many other maladies, and the fact that it is a certainly much-rarer circumstance seen by medical practitioners thanradiation poisoning, that they failed to recognize it. OTOH, had any thought to test victims with a scint. counter, they might have caught it. jocular
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    • #15  
      Forum Freshman DogLady's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Markus Hanke View Post
      Hm, interesting point. Does everyone in the world understand the meaning of the trefoil ( radiation warning ) symbol, regardless of wether they are educated or not ? That symbol is found both on the outside of the machine ( in several places ), as well as on the internal components. Yet they still opened it. The same happened during the Goiania incident; in fact not even the local medical staff were able to correctly recognise the symptoms of acute radiation poisoning, it took a physicist to tell that something was amiss...
      Considering most of these events take place in countries where there is a high poverty and illiteracy level (Mexico, India, Thailand), the 'idiots' who do these things probably have no idea what they are dealing with. I doubt anyone educated well enough to know what radiation is would willingly open a death-container just for some metal to sell. They might be larcenous, but I doubt they are stupid.

      As far as the medical people go, I'm not sure I would catch a case of radiation poisoning, especially if it was just one that I knew about. Over several days, it would become apparent, as blood counts drop, burns develop, but at first, I probably wouldn't catch it.

      Clarissa
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