Two men scavenging for scrap metal unwittingly started off a chain of events that killed four people – including a little girl – and required a massive clean-up operation. 550 people participated in that clean-up, removing contaminated top soil and demolishing seven houses, and a huge amount of debris and other waste had to be safely disposed of.
The radiation source in question would have contained about 50.9 TBq (1,380 Ci) when it was taken by the scavengers. The clean-up operation recovered 87% of that; a small amount therefore must have been left in the environment. However, since caesium-137 decays, more than half of the remaining contamination will have gone naturally by now. The area was considered safe once the clean-up was done; the network which they set up to take samples during the screening and decontamination process was used afterwards for continued monitoring.
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