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

Sasolburg orphaned source, 1977

compiled by Wm. Robert Johnston
last modified 18 September 2007

Date: 8 January 1977

Location: Sasolburg, Transvaal, South Africa

Type of event: lost radiography source


A 6.7-Ci iridium-192 source used for industrial radiography fell out of its container at a construction site on the morning of 8 January. The radiographer did not notice loss of the source due to a faulty monitor and left the site. About 3 hours later a construction supervisor picked up the source and put it in a shirt pocket. He later traveled home by bus, experienced nausea and vomiting, and put the source in a cupboard. The source was recognized as lost at 1130 on 10 January, and after a replica was shown to workers the source was recovered at 1545 on 10 January. The supervisor suffered a whole-body dose of 116 rad, with erythema and necrosis on the chest area and damage to the left hand. Two fingers on the hand were amputated, and skin grafts on the chest area were required 18 months later; one rib was reportedly removed. The wife and child of the supervisor sustained doses of 17 rad and 10 rad, respectively.

Consequences: 1 injury.


© 2004-2006, 2007 by Wm. Robert Johnston.
Last modified 18 September 2007.
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