Published: Saturday 04 July 2015

"We want to transform the accident into something positive," says Paulo New regional director of the National Nuclear Energy Commission in Brazil -referring to the nuclear waste dump in Goiania, site of a macabre radiation disaster, which the Brazilian government now proposes to turn into a national park.

It happened in September 1988 at 57th Street, a locality few kilometres away from the dump. Scavengers found a discarded irradiation machine and sold it to a scrap dealer, who smashed it open and found a bluish powder inside which glowed in the dark. Entranced by its beauty, he presented thimblefuls of the powder to his relatives and friends. The powder turned out to be deadly cesium chloride, killing 7 people, contaminating several more and making 57th Street a social pariah. The rest of Brazil refused to buy foodstuff or clothes from there fearing contamination.

Now the government is planning to wipe out lingering memories of the accident once and for all by converting the dump into a tourist complex, complete with natural trails, a visitor information centre and a 100-seat auditorium.

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