One of the world's worst nuclear disasters is likely something you've never heard of
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Featured Image Credit: IAEA / CNEN
One of the largest nuclear disasters in history is one you have probably never even heard of.
The International Atomic Energy Agency has said that it has found no visible mines at the power plant, the largest in Europe, but Ukrainian intelligence is still fearful that Russia may blow up the plant.
It's not the first time that Ukraine has faced such a disaster, as the country was also the unfortunate host of the Chernobyl disaster, one of the worst nuclear reactor meltdowns to ever occur.
However, there is another nuclear disaster which also caused widespread devastation. And no, it's not the Fukushima disaster in Japan either, if you guessed that.
And if you're guessing the Three Mile Island Disaster, then I'm afraid you're wrong again.
In fact, this disaster is all the more unnerving because it's not actually related to a power plant at all, but to the theft of radioactive material.
This is, of course, the Goiânia Accident of 1987.
This happened in the city of Goiânia in the Goiâs region of Brazil, which surrounds the Federal District containing the purpose-built capital Brasilia.
In 1985, a hospital in the city moved locations, leaving behind a radiotherapy unit which used the substance caesium-137 to treat cancer.
Two years later in 1987, two men broke into the abandoned building looking for items with scrap value, and stole the machine - including its radioactive component which they were not aware of.
After carrying the machine home in a wheelbarrow and beginning to dismantle it, the men eventually found a bright blue powder inside the machine.
This powder, which was held in a small capsule with an iridium window, turned out to be highly radioactive cesium chloride.
The men sold the components of the machine for scrap, but kept some of the powder out of pure fascination, even distributing it amongst family and friends.
But both men fell ill the same evening they had committed the theft, suffering from gastrointestinal symptoms.
By September 29 of that year, around 16 days after the unit was taken, the authorities were alerted that there was a radioactive substance in circulation, going all the way up the chain to the national government.
Things got even worse when one person - a bus driver - unknowingly exposed dozens of passengers to the substance.
Four people died as a result of the incident, including a six-year-old girl who had played with the powder when her father brought it home. She had to be buried in a lead coffin as a result of the deadly radiation.
Authorities later screened some 100,000 people for radiation, finding 249 people had severe exposure.
The incident was classed as a level five incident on the International Nuclear Event Scale, meaning that it was one with more far-reaching consequences.
For context, Chernobyl and Fukushima were both level seven incidents - the highest.