Database of radiological incidents and related events--Johnston's Archive

Jilin orphaned source, 1992

compiled by Wm. Robert Johnston
last modified 26 October 2008

Date: 19 November 1992

Location: Jilin, Xinzhou, PR China

Type of event: lost source


During decommissioning, a 10-curie cobalt-60 source from an industrial irradiation facility was taken to a residence by a construction worker at the site. The source had been stored in water 6 meters deep in a well since 1980. The source was taken home on 19 November, exposing the worker's father and brother. The following day the worker became ill and went to the hospital, taking the source with him. He died 15 days after initial exposure, about the time radiation was identified as the cause of his illness. Eight individuals were exposed to sufficient radiation to cause severe injury, three of whom died--the construction worker and his father and brother--of exposures over 800 rad. Exposures to medical workers ranged up to 100-300 rads. Localized doses ranged from 25 to 1,000 rem. When radiation injury symptoms initially developed, local medical workers did not recognize the symptoms as radiation-induced. The source of the problem was not fully recognized for 2-3 weeks, and the source was not secured until 76 days after it was taken. A total of 14 people received doses exceeding 25 rad.

Consequences: 3 fatalities, 5 injuries.


© 2004-2007, 2008 by Wm. Robert Johnston.
Last modified 26 October 2008.
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