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

Sanlian orphaned source, 1963

compiled by Wm. Robert Johnston
last modified 26 October 2008

Date: 11 January 1963

Location: Sanlian, P.R. China

Type of event: orphaned source


A 10-curie cobalt-60 source from an industrial seed irradiator was removed from a buried waste repository and taken to a residence by a child. Six family members were exposed to the source over 5-9 days, and another relative (the child's uncle) for 9 hours during an overnight stay. Three family members (two children and the mother) exhibited symptoms within 8 days. The child and a brother sustained the largest doses; one died after 12 days of an 8,000-rem doses, the other after 11 days of a 4,000-rem dose. The mother sustained an 800-rem dose and recovered, although a skin ulcer on one leg failed to heal despite multiple skin grafts, and the femur of that leg sustained a pathological fracture 10 years later requiring surgery. One brother, aged 20, sustained a dose of 600 rem and was left sterile. The sister, aged 13, sustained a dose of 400 rem; she eventually had two children, one of whom was severely mentally retarded. The uncle sustained a whole body dose of 200 rem but a localized dose of up to 20,000 rem to one leg, which was amputated 5 years later.

Consequences: 2 fatalities (8,000 rem and 4,000 rem), 4 injuries (800, 600, 400, and 200 rem).


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