There have been a number of serious nuclear incidents since the 1950s. Below are details of the most serious.
Mayak or Kyshtym nuclear complex (Soviet Union): 29 September 1957
A fault in the cooling system at the nuclear complex, near Chelyabinsk, results in a chemical explosion and the release of an estimated 70 to 80 tonnes of radioactive materials into the air. Thousands of people are exposed to radiation and thousands more are evacuated from their homes. It is categorised as Level 6 on the seven-point International Nuclear Events Scale (INES).
Windscale nuclear reactor (UK): 7 October 1957
A fire in the graphite-cooled reactor, in Cumbria, results in a limited release of radioactivity (INES Level 5). The sale of milk from nearby farms is banned for a month. The reactor cannot be salvaged and is buried in concrete. A second reactor on the site is also shut down and the site decontaminated. Subsequently part of the site is renamed Sellafield and new nuclear reactors are built.
Idaho National Engineering Laboratory (USA): 3 January 1961
A steam explosion in reactor SL-1 during preparation for start-up destroys the small US Army experimental reactor and kills three operators.
Three Mile Island power plant, Pennsylvania (US): 29 March 1979
A cooling malfunction causes a partial meltdown in one reactor, resulting in a limited release of radioactivity (INES Level 5).
The site's first reactor (TMI One) on the Susquehanna river was closed for refuelling. The second was at full capacity when two malfunctions occurred: first there was a release of radioactive water, then radioactive gas was detected on the perimeter. No deaths or injuries were reported.
It is considered the United States' worst nuclear accident and led to major safety changes in the industry.
Chernobyl power plant (Soviet Union): 26 April 1986
One of four reactors explodes after an experiment at the power plant (INES Level 7). The resulting fire burns for nine days and at least 100 times more radiation than the atom bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima is released into the air. Radioactive deposits are found in nearly every country in the northern hemisphere.
Two people die in the explosion and another 28 from acute radiation sickness in the immediate aftermath. Some experts predict thousands of extra cancer deaths as a result of the disaster.
A huge cover, known as the New Safe Confinement, is being built over the existing sarcophagus. It is expected to cover the site by 2013.
Severesk, formerly Tomsk-7 (Russia): 6 April 1993
A tank at a uranium and plutonium factory inside the plant explodes, resulting in radioactivity being dispersed into the atmosphere contaminating an area of over 120 sq km (INES Level 4). A number of villages are evacuated and left permanently uninhabitable.
Tokaimura nuclear fuel processing facility (Japan): 30 September 1999
Workers break safety regulations by mixing dangerously large amounts of treated uranium in metal buckets, setting off a nuclear reaction (INES Level 4).
Two of the workers later die from their injuries, and more than 40 others are treated for exposure to high levels of radiation.
Hundreds of residents living nearby were evacuated from their homes while the nuclear reaction continued, but were allowed home two days later.
Mihama power plant (Japan): 9 August 2004
Five people die in an accident at the plant in the Fukui province (INES Level 1). Seven people are also injured when hot water and steam leaks from a broken pipe.
Officials insist that no radiation leaked from the plant, and there is no danger to the surrounding area.
Fukushima Daiichi power plant (Japan): 11 March 2011
A powerful tsunami generated by a magnitude-9.0 earthquake out at sea slams into the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, damaging four of six reactors at the site.
A series of fires are set off, after cooling systems fail. Venting hydrogen gas from the reactors causes explosions, forcing engineers to use seawater in an effort to cool overheating reactor cores.
Originally classified as INES Level 5, the severity was raised to INES Level 7 on 12 April 2011 when a new estimate suggested higher levels of radiation than previously thought had leaked from the plant.
Despite the classification, the incident is said to be much less severe than Chernobyl, and officials insist there is only a minimal risk to public health.
malpractice wrote:Not like the daily mail to sensationalise anything is it?
Forget the media reports, read the IAEA updates if you want to make your own conclusions based on available facts http://iaea.org/newscenter/news/tsunamiupdate01.html
Chai Wallah wrote:The same journalists sprouting this alarmist trip also promoted the MMR scare, support homeopathic cures, antioxidants and publish stories that cancer can be cured / is caused by drinking / not drinking a glass/ bottle of white/red/rose wine a day/week/month (delete as required)
watourmann wrote:The current "scientific community": we don't know what we don't know. Sums it up.
Chai Wallah wrote:These same ppl who believe that they are intelligent because they went to university, studied humanities, joined the media, dont understand science (proudly gave it up at 14) but must propogate the most alarming stories possible to please their editors ( who has the same background as them)
Chai Wallah wrote:How many know the differnce between a becquerel and sievert? without googling it, but are quite happy to quote the figures if they beleive it supports there opinions.
Crystal Voyager wrote:Thanks Chai and certainly a very eloquent post which will help us all understand a bit more.
It's good to see you have relevant background too.
I am interested in your views with your expertise on the official stories that were originally sent out to the mainstream media and what is now reported which shows that the problem is indeed much worse than originally suggested.
Do you think that there was an attempt to hide the problem or was it just a case of not understanding the true problems they were facing?
Despite reassurances from official sources, do you think there is a substantial risk to health both locally and on a larger scale considering now it is suggested that it will be some months before the situation is contained to a manageable level?
With recent news of a leaked document suggesting Sellafield had discharged plutonium contaminated water into the environment and the reactor in Edinburgh also showing radioactive discharge into the soil and water table gives cause for concern that maybe there is a systematic cover up of accidents?
Do these leaks present any tangible risk to the population or are these leaks so small as to be negligible in effect?
Thanks once again for discussing this as hopefully we will all learn more and better able to judge what we do hear.
tjah1087 wrote: I am all for nuclear power. Renewables dont scale, and oil and coal are limited. Until we develop fusion it's by far the best we have got.
If you are worried about nuclear power killing us all, don't be. I'd be FAR FAR more concerned about Co2 emissions changing global weather patterns, destroying agricultural productivity on a global scale, leading to mass famine, and sea level changes displacing billions of people from low lying cities.
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