Nuclear Plants: An Accident Chronology

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 We’re all keeping a close eye on the situation in Fukushima. The first nuclear plants opened in 1952. And, over the years, there have been occasions where safety measures failed and accidents occurred. Here’s a chronology of some of the significant events: 

DATE

LOCATION

DESCRIPTION

1952

Chalk River, near Ottawa

The accidental removal of 4 control rods causes a partial meltdown of the reactor’s uranium fuel core. No injuries.

1957

Windscale Pile No. 1, near Liverpool, UK

Fire in a graphite-cooled reactor spews radiation contaminating 200 sq. miles of countryside.

1957

South Ural Mountains

Explosion of radioactive wastes at nuclear weapons factory in USSR 12 miles from the city of Kyshtym forces 10,000 to evacuate.

1964

Charlestown, RI

Worker accidentally puts concentrated rather than diluted uranium solution into agitation tank and suffers critical radiation exposure.

1966

Monroe, MI

Malfunction of sodium cooling system causes partial meltdown.

1967

Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland

Graphite debris partially blocks fuel channel causing fire and partial meltdown.

1969

Vaud, Switzerland

Total loss of coolant causes power leak and explosion.

1975

Greifswald, East Germany

Failure of safety system during fire causes near meltdown of nuclear plant core reactor.

1977

Jaslovské Bohunice, Czechoslovakia

Operators neglect to remove moisture absorbant from fuel rod assembly causing corrosion of fuel cladding and radiation release

1979

Three Mile Isl. Harrisburg, PA

Loss of coolant by one of the plant’s reactors causes partial meltdown, releasing radioactive water and gases. The worst nuclear accident in U.S. history.

1980

Orléans, France

Brief leak in reactor ruptures fuel bundle and releases radioactive materials.

1983

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Operator dies of radiation exposure caused by error during fuel plate reconfiguration that results in leak of fissionable materials.

1986

Chernobyl near Kiev, Ukraine

Fire and explosion in graphite core of reactor spews radiation over USSR, eastern Europe and Scandinavia. At least 31 believed dead. Worst nuclear accident in history.

1993

Tomsk, Russia

Pressure buildup causes reaction vessel buried in concrete bunker to explode.

1999

Tokaimura, Japan

Uncontrolled chain reaction in uranium-processing nuclear fuel plant spews radioactive gas into the air, killing 2 workers and severely injuring 1 other.

2003

Paks, Hungary

Partially spent fuel rods rupture during cleaning spilling fuel pellets.

2004

Mihama, Japan

Non-radioactive steam leak from nuclear plant kills 4 workers and burns 7 others.

2006

Erwin, TN

35 litres of enriched uranium leak during transfer causing 7-month plant shutdown.

2007

Kashiwazaki, Japan

6.8 magnitude earthquake causes radiation leaks, fires and burst pipes at nuclear power plant. Later learned that plant had been built directly over an active seismic fault.

2011

Fukushima, Japan

9.0 earthquake cuts off power to cooling system, resulting in radiation release and potential meltdown.

 

 

 

 

  • Dave Shanahan

    No incidents from Canadian nukes since 1952?
    If that’s the case, it’s a pretty good record.