Accueil > ☢ Nucléaire > L’accident de Goiânia (Brésil, 1987) > A major Technological accident : The dispersion of a radioactive cesium-137 (...)

PhD Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers, Paris (France) - Under the direction of Jean-Jacques Salomon

A major Technological accident : The dispersion of a radioactive cesium-137 PELLET In Goiânia, Brazil (1987)

par Perline

Specialty : Science, Technology, Society
Mention très honorable - june 1994

This study concerns the accidental dispersion of cesium-137 chloride via an abandonned radiotherapy device in Brazil, in september 1987.

Since the accident occured recently in a confined geographical area, and concerned a single radiochemical agent, it was possible to carefully delimit the study parameters in each discipline : post-accident management, physics, medicine, environment, law, psychology, socioeconomics and communications.

Data were gathered from interiews and documents, in Brazil.

To fight the effects of the accident, most of qualified workers have been needed. Four people died, more than 200 are medically surveyed and hundreds need it. One had to manage with 3500 m3 of radioactive waste. Costs are difficult to evaluate but obviously very important. It is difficult to analyse all consequences.

No official has been accused, there were no sentence.

The results demonstrate the critical importance of the human factor in technological accidents, both in a preventive and curative sense. Local, national and international economic interests, allied with political ones, are at odds with the demand of public security. The notion of individual institutional reponsibility is not recognized. The media do not maintain the distance from events required to analyze them knowledgeably and independently, especially when these events are linked to societal intitutions.

Parallels with events in France were drawn.

Given its staus as high technology intimately connected with the military, as well as its intangible nature, nuclear technology can only be employed safely in an essentially authoritarian setting, disguised though it may be by democratic elements such as commissions and assemblies, conciliating or reconciliating it with democracy.

Largest information and debate about all uses of nuclear area is a major society’s challenge of this ending century, as a demesured exemple of scientifico-technocratic power.

Keywords : Major technological accident, radioactivity, cesium 137, Brazil, Goiania, nuclear.


- En français, l’accident de Goiânia, sommaire complet.
- For any information or to order this thesis (in French, 377 p, 2 kg, 40 € and mail fee), you can write to Perline.
- This thesis is avalaible under the reference 9002999T, in the central file of thesis-Université Paris X - 200, avenue de la République-92001 Nanterre.
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