Grey Goo Outbreak Kills 3

Apogee Station, Low Earth Orbital Zone -- 22 Mar. 2057:  An accidental release of self-replicating nanites in a programmable-matter factory has led to the deaths of 3 people.  According to information released by the LEO Department of Public Safety, the outbreak has been fully contained and cleanup is in progress.

The facility at which the tragic accident occurred, Matterworks Nanofacturing, is a subsidiary of Omnicor Hypercorp LLC.  The deadly nanotechnology was allowed to run amok by the failure of the magnetic containment field and of a critical circuit in the sensor system which was supposed to report any breach in the seals of the clean room where the constructors were deployed.  According to eyewitness Bulgar Thrace, a matter-flow control technician employed at the factory, nobody understood what was happening until the console in front of them started dissolving.

"We knew something hinky was going on," said Mx. Thrace in an audio interview.  "The readouts were all over the place, but nobody made the connection without the breach alarm sounding.  Then I saw Jackson... Jesus Mohammed, his hands just started to melt into the controls.  He screamed, and then...  Terrence was the real hero.  He grabbed the fire suppressors, filled the room with foam for the things to eat.  Gave the rest of us time to get out of the control room, but he was already losing flesh.  He screamed after me, 'Close the door!'  And, God help me, I did.  It should have been me."

The Department of Public safety has informed us that it has ruled out foul play.  "There is no evidence that either system was tampered with," said Constable Raj Banerjee in a press conference earlier this day.  "The sensor-system circuit was clearly burned out for several weeks and was not replaced in routine maintenance, and the magnetic containment system was disrupted when a space earwig flew into the circuits of the dedicated power generator."  Asked if charges of criminal negligence will be brought against the facility operators, Constable Banerjee replied that "That is a matter for the Occupational Safety Commission to decide, though I would not be surprised."

According to Langston Washington, the head of the Nano-Technical Services Union Local 21, this incident is part of a pattern of neglect at Omnicor-owned facilities.  "Working with self-replicating nanites is one of the most dangerous professions there is," Mr. Washington told us in an e-mail, "and Omnicor regularly makes it more dangerous with their cheapness and duplicity.  Imagine, no backup power system and a sensor grid with a single failure point?  We're lucky the whole station didn't end up as grey goo!  We would never have let our people work there if we knew that was the setup, but the government inspector told us a different story; they were clearly paid off, and we'll see to it that they reap in full what they have sowed.  We've been trying to nail Omnicor on safety issues for years.  They value their bottom line over workers' lives, and it ends now."

Executives at Matterworks Nanofacturing and Omnicor Hypercorp LLC. have not responded to requests for comment.

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