Clinic Owners Indicted in Radiation Contamination
Oct. 11, 1987
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) _ Three doctors who owned an abandoned radiation therapy clinic have been charged in the release of radioactive material that contaminated 40 people, 10 of them critically.
Orlando Teixeira, 37, Criseide Dourado, 40, and Carlos Bezzerril, 43, directors of the Goiania Radiation Therapy Institute, were indicted Saturday on charges of causing grave injury to 10 people. If conficted, they face two to eight years in jai.
Forty people remained hospitalized after being exposed to material released from a container of cesium 137, a radioactive isotope used in cancer research and radiation therapy.
Scrap metal dealer Devair Ferreira found the 500-pound lead casing Sept. 30 in the rubble of the partly demolished Goiania clinic. He took it home in a wheelbarrow and took it apart.
The chemical's phosphorescent yellow glow fascinated the neighborhood residents in Goiania, a city of 1.2 million about 130 miles south of the capital of Brasilia. They carried it in their pockets and passed it around to show their friends. Children rubbed in on their bodies and Ferreira's 6-year- old niece ate some of it.
Police weren't notified for five days. They began searching for the owners of the clinic, which was torn down last year.
Health officials said seven areas of Goiania and 243 people were contaminated in varying degrees by the cesium.
Ten of the most critically injured, including Ferreira and his niece, were flown to a naval hospital in Rio de Janeiro for treatment.
The World Health Organization said it was the worst cesium-related radiation disaster in history.
The capsule has been cemented, and the Nuclear Energy Commission said it will be deposited in the Amazon jungle in northern Brazil, where military installations house a 100-foot deep hole initially built for nuclear tests.
Environmentalists oppose the plan, saying the region is the source of several Amazon rivers that could be contaminated by the waste.
Brazil has just one nuclear power plant and does not have facilities to store atomic waste.