18 Mar 2012

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Most Dangerous Nuclear Power Plant Accidents

  • 18 Mar 2012
  • YuG Patel
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  • Based on a report by INAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), a radiation & nuclear disaster or accident is described as “Any event which leads to a significant consequence/s to the environment, facility as well as people. A few examples of such are the lethal consequences to individuals, a large release of radioactivity in the environment, a reactors core melt.”  A nuclear accident’s a disaster that effects people economically, physically, emotionally, mentally, & genetically, damaging & altering the gene that causes serious effects to future generations. This article talks of the 9 most dangerous nuclear power plant accidents that we have witnessed till date.

    1.       28th March, 1979- Three Mile Island


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    28th of March, 1979, Three Mile Island saw a terrible nuclear meltdown in the early hours of the morning. The nuclear accident is said to have released radioactive gases around thirteen million curies into the environment & caused loss around 2,400 USD. Fortunately this accident did not result in any injuries or deaths.

    2.     13th September, 1987- The Goiania Accident


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    It was Goiania, Brazil, where a junkyard dealer opened a discarded radiation therapy machine & detached a small radioactive cake (highly) of cesium chloride that exposed over 240 people to radiations. This incident seriously contaminated the surroundings & environment. Several buildings needed to be knocked down. This accident led to the death of 4 people and countless children were affected by this accident.

    3.     10th October, 1957- Windscale Pile


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    It was a wind scale blaze that ignited piles of plutonium & contaminated all the nearby dairy farms. This radioactive contamination resulted in 33 deaths due to cancer. It is said to be the worst ever nuclear accident that Britain has ever seen. This conflagration released over 20,000 iodine curies, plus 594 cesium curies & 24,000 xenon curies apart from radionuclides.

    4.      12th December, 1952- Chalk River Nuclear Accident


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    It was a reactors shutoff rod breakdown, together with numerous operator errors that resulted in a massive power excursion. There were successions of explosions (hydrogen gas) that hurled four-ton gasholders dome about 4 feet in the air where they jammed inside the superstructure. There were thousand curies of products (fission) that were freed in the environment, radioactive contaminated water was pumped out (over million gallons) of the underground area, which was later disposed of close to Ottawa River in the shallow trenches. NRX reactor’s core couldn’t be decontaminated and it was finally buried as a radioactive waste.

    5.      9th August, 2004- Mihama Nuclear Power Plant



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    This Nuclear Power Plant’s situated in the Fukui prefecture in Japan, about 320 kms (close to 200 mile) west of Tokyo. This plant had been commissioned in the year1976 & was a site for numerous small accidents (nuclear-related) in the year 1991 as well as 2003. It was on the 9th of August in the year 2004 that a turbine building’s water pipe adjoining reactor Mihama 3 burst all of a sudden as the workers were preparing to carry out the scheduled safety inspection. This explosion of steam killed five of the plant workers while injuring a dozen others. Even though there was no radiation that was released, it caused havoc. Yet again in the year 2006, Mihama witnessed a fire (on-site) where two of the plant workers lost their lives & the notoriety of this plant increased.

    6.     30th September, 1999-Tokaimura Uranium Processing Facility


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    This accident was a result of human error that was brought about due to rash business choices This facility was formerly being operated by the JCO Ltd. & the processed as well as purified fuel (Uranium) was used by several power plants (nuclear) in Japan.
    It is believe that the cause of this accident was workers who were poorly trained @ this Tokaimura plant & these people were missing essential procedures in the process of refining. These workers skipped more than a few essential steps under pressure and the result was that Nitric Acid & powder Uranium Oxide were mixed in a 10-liter bucket instead of numerous dedicated tanks. This mixture reached a critical mass which lead to chain reactions that lasting twenty hours. It is believed that 2 plant workers were killed in this accident because of radiation exposure, while a dozen other people were exposed to abnormal radiation levels.

    7.       29th September, 1957- Mayak Nuclear Plant


    Also referred to as Chelyabinsk-40 & Chelyabinsk-65, the Mayak Nuclear Plant is said to be amongst the major nuclear facilities present in Russian Federation.  This facility’s seen over 20 accidents which have affected over half million people in 45 years. In this particular accident, the cooling systems for a tank failed and tons of nuclear waste (dissolved) lead to a non-nuclear chemical explosion. The accident released about two million curies radioactivity that spread 15,000 sq. miles & affected more than 200 people who died due to radiation sickness, about 10,000 were evacuated, close to 470,000 people got exposed to sickening radiation. Thousands were killed, even more were injured.

    8.     26th April, 1986- Chernobyl Disaster


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    This accident took place in Ukraine when a reactor near Pripyat town built a fault. Due to a sudden surge of power output, an emergency power cut was attempted which resulted in a severe spike in the power output. The reactor vessel then ruptured & caused multiple explosions. Russia, Ukraine & Belarus were all seriously affected. Evacuations touched 350,400 & WHO estimated that close to 4,000 people died.

    9.     11th March, 2011- Fukushima Disaster


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    Northeast Japan saw a massive quake (8.9-magnitude) on this day which caused deaths, over 80 fires, & a 33 feet tsunami. It led to extensive damage to life & property, homes got swept away. Close to 11 reactors had to be shut down & 5 reactors in Fukushima declared emergency. This accident lead to nuclear contamination…the surrounding areas were contaminated, water, vegetable, milk, & other food products were all contaminated.

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