List of radiation accidents
When people ask about accidents at nuclear power plants, most immediately recall the tragedy at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and Fukushima .
This article contains the most serious accidents at nuclear power plants around the world.
Emergencies related to radiation emissions are classified according to the IAEA INES scale at one of 8 levels. The spread of radioactivity is classified on this scale from 2 to 7 levels, large levels correspond to greater danger. Thus, the risk of exposure of the population occurs only at levels of INES 4 and above.
List of radiation accidents
- December 12, 1952 - Accident at Chock River Laboratory - Canada - INES 5
- September 29, 1957 - Kyshtym accident - USSR - INES 6
- October 10, 1957 - Disaster at Windscale - UK - INES 5
- 1960, 1961 - K-8 (submarine) - USSR
- July 4, 1961 - K-19 - USSR
- 1965 - K-11 - USSR
- January 17, 1966 - Plane crash over Palomares January 17, 1966 - Spain
- January 21, 1968 - Plane crash over the base Thule - Greenland
- May 24, 1968 - K-27 - USSR
- January 18, 1970 - Radiation accident at the Krasnoye Sormovo plant
- October 2, 1974, August 24, 1978 - Nuclear explosions in Yakutia - USSR
- January 24, 1978 - Cosmos-954
- March 28, 1979 - Accident at Three Mile Island NPP - USA - INES 5
- 1980 - Saint-Laurent-des-Houes - France— INES 4
- 1983 - Cosmos-1402 - USSR
- August 10, 1985 - Radiation accident in Chazhma Bay - USSR
- April 26, 1986 - Accident at the Chernobyl NPP - USSR, - INES 7
- May 4, 1986 - Breakdown of the fuel rods delivery mechanism. Attempts by the operator to remedy the situation led to the destruction of the reactor vessel and a large emission of radiation - Hamm-Untrop, Germany
- 1989 - Fire at Vandellos NPP - Spain - INES 3
- 1993 - Accident at the Siberian Chemical Combine - Russia - INES 3 [source not specified 1371 days] or INES 4  
- September 30, 1999 - Accident at a Tokaimura nuclear facility - Japan - INES 4
- 2005 - Sellafield - England - INES 3
- 2006 - Fleurus (2006)
- March 11, 2011 - The accident at Fukushima NPP-1 - Japan - INES 7
Other cases of radioactive contamination
- From 1949 - Techa - USSR
- From October 1951 - Karachay Lake - USSR
- 1980–1989 - Radioactive infection in Kramatorsk - USSR
- 1987 - Radioactive infection in Goiânia - Brazil - INES 5
- 1985-1987 - Therac-25 - USA and Canada
December 12, 1952. Canada, Ontario, Chalk River, NPP NRX
The world's first serious accident at a nuclear power plant. A technical staff error led to overheating and partial melting of the core. Thousands of curies of fission products fell into the external environment and about 3,800 cubic meters of radioactively polluted water were dumped directly on the ground, into small trenches near the Ottawa River. The future US president Jimmy Carter, then a nuclear engineer of the Navy (The Careless Atom, 1969) worked as part of a team that was involved in environmental cleanup of the station.
October 5, 1966. USA, Michigan, Newport, Enrico Fermi NPP
An accident in the cooling system of an experimental nuclear reactor caused a partial melting of the core. The staff managed to manually stop it. It took a year and a half to re-launch the reactor at full capacity (Let the Facts Speak, 1992).
October 17, 1969. France, NPP "Saint-Lauren"
When reloading fuel on a working reactor, the operator mistakenly loaded into the fuel channel not a fuel assembly but a device for controlling the flow of gases. As a result of the melting of five fuel elements, about 50 kilograms of molten fuel fell into the reactor vessel. There was a release of radioactive products into the environment. The reactor was stopped for one year (Soloviev, 1992; Weaver, 1995).
March 20, 1975. USA, Alabama, Decatur, Browne Ferry NPP
The fire at one of the largest US nuclear power plants, which lasted 7 hours and caused direct material damage of 10 million dollars. Two reactor units were put out of operation for more than a year, which brought additional losses of another $ 10 million. The cause of the fire was the non-observance of security measures during the work on the sealing of cable entries passing through the wall of the reactor hall. The verification of this work was carried out in the most primitive way; on the deflection of the flame burning stearin candles. As a result, there was an ignition of the insulation materials of the cable holes, and then the fire penetrated the room of the reactor hall. It took a lot of effort to bring the reactor to a trouble-free mode and eliminate the fire (Savelyev, 2003; List of nuclear accidents, 2004).
November 30, 1975. USSR, Sosnovy Bor, Leningrad NPP
There was an accident with the release of large quantities of radioactive substances. The reason for it was the melting of several fuel elements in one of the technological channels, which led to a partial destruction of the reactor core of the first power unit. 1.5 million Ci of radioactivity was released into the external environment. Residents of the surrounding areas were not warned of the danger. This was a third-level incident on the INES scale (Medvedev, 1989; Belluna, 2004).
January 5, 1976. Czechoslovakia, Jaslovske-Bohunice, Bohunice NPP
An accident occurred overloading fuel. With an extensive leak of “hot” radioactive gas, two station workers died. An emergency exit, through which they could leave the place of emergency, was blocked (to “prevent frequent cases of theft”). The population was not warned about the accidental release of radioactivity (Let the Facts Speak, 1992).
February 22, 1977. Czechoslovakia, Jaslovske-Bohunice, Bohunice NPP
Accident when loading nuclear fuel at the first power unit of the station. The sheeting was not removed from the fresh fuel assembly, resulting in its partial melting, rupture of the process channel and heavy water leakage. A further rapid increase in humidity in the primary circuit system resulted in damage to the fuel elements in the reactor core and contamination of this circuit with fission products. The reactor internals were also damaged.
After this accident, it was decided to stop the operation of the station, since the repair of equipment to restore its working capacity was considered too costly. In 2004, residents of the town of Jaslovske-Bohunice sued the state and demanded compensation for the damage caused by the accident at the nuclear power plant in 1977 in the amount of 50 million euros. His demands and put the municipality of the city. Its experts considered that the accident led to a sharp drop in land prices and adversely affected agricultural activities in the area (List of nuclear accidents, 2004).
December 31, 1978. USSR, Sverdlovsk region, settlement Zarechny, Beloyarsk NPP
Fire at the second power unit of the nuclear power plant, caused by the fall of the slab of the engine room onto the turbo-generator oil tank. Burned out the entire control cable. The reactor was out of control. When emergency cooling water was supplied to it, eight people were re-irradiated (Kuznetsov, 2000).
March 28, 1979. USA, Pennsylvania, Harrisburg, Three Mile Island NPP
The largest accident in the history of US nuclear power. As a result of a series of equipment failures and operator errors at the second power unit of the NPP, 53 percent of the reactor core melted. What happened was like a domino effect. First, the water pump went bad. Then, due to the discontinued supply of cooling water, the uranium fuel melted and went beyond the shells of the fuel assemblies. The resulting radioactive mass destroyed most of the core and nearly burned through the reactor vessel. If this happened, the consequences would be disastrous. However, the station personnel managed to restore the water supply and reduce the temperature. At the time of the accident, about 70 percent of the radioactive fission products accumulated in the core were transferred to the primary coolant. The exposure dose rate inside the shell in which the reactor and the primary circuit system were enclosed reached 80 R / h. There was an emission into the atmosphere of an inert radioactive gas - xenon, as well as iodine. In addition, 185 cubic meters of low-level radioactive water was dumped into the Saskugana River. 200 thousand people were evacuated from the area exposed to radiation. Residents of the Dauphin district, who lived near the nuclear power plant, suffered the most. The two-day delay in the decision to evacuate children and pregnant women from the 10-kilometer zone around the nuclear power plant had serious negative consequences. The cleaning of the second power unit, almost completely destroyed as a result of the accident, took as much as 12 years and cost $ 1 billion, which effectively bankrupted the plant owner (The Report of the President’s Commission, 1979; Staff Reports to The President’s Commission, 1979; The Greenpeace Book of the Nuclear Age, 1989; The Tribune-Review, 2004).
March 8, 1981. Japan, Fukui Prefecture, Zugur, Tsugura NPP
About 4,000 gallons of highly radioactive water leaked through a crack in the bottom of the building where spent fuel assemblies were stored. 56 workers were exposed to radiation. During the period from January 10 to March 8, 1981, four such leaks occurred. During emergency restoration work, 278 workers of NPPs received increased exposure (Let the Facts Speak, 1992).
October 15, 1982. USSR, Medzamor, Armenian NPP
Generator explosion at the first power unit of the Armenian NPP. The engine room was seriously damaged by fire. Most of the personnel in a panic left the station, leaving the reactor without supervision. The task force arrived by plane from the Kola NPP and helped the operators at their workplace save the reactor (Medvedev, 1989; Calendar of Nuclear Accidents, 1996).
January 27, 1984. USSR, Energodar, Zaporizhzhya NPP
Fire at the first power unit during its preparation for launch. After the spontaneous combustion of one of the relay units, the fire roller rushed around the 50-meter cable shaft for 18 hours. As it turned out, the cause of the fire was the use of PVC insulation at the station, which ignited, melted and, breaking off, set fire to bundles of cables at the lower elevations. The entire filling of the mine burned out: over 4 thousand control units, 41 electric motors, 700 kilometers of various cables. After this incident, all NPP units under construction in the USSR began to use cable only with fireproof insulation (Gaev, 1999).
June 27, 1985. USSR, Balakovo NPP
During the “hot run-in” of the first power unit without fuel loading, a pipeline ruptured and a 300-degree steam began to flow into the room where people worked. 14 people died. The accident occurred due to the erroneous actions of inexperienced personnel (Medvedev, 1989; Kuznetsov, 2000).
April 26, 1986. USSR, Ukraine, Kiev region, Pripyat, Chernobyl NPP
The largest radiation catastrophe in world history (event of the seventh level on the international scale INES). At 1 hours 23 minutes 49 seconds (Moscow time) on the fourth block of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant during the design tests of one of the security systems there were two powerful explosions that destroyed part of the reactor block and the machine room. The TNT equivalent of these explosions is estimated to be about 100-250 tons of TNT. In the period from April 26 to May 10, 1986, when the destroyed reactor was finally shut down, according to official information, about 190 tons (50 mCi) of radioactive substances (approximately 4 percent of the total activity of the fuel in the reactor) were released into the atmosphere. According to other estimates, 90 to 100 percent of the fuel was thrown out of the reactor. An area of 160 thousand square kilometers is polluted. The northern part of Ukraine, the west of Russia and Belarus suffered the most. Radioactive fallout occurred (to varying degrees) in the territory of 20 states.
Radiation damage caused by extinguishing a fire that occurred on the night of the accident killed 28 people (6 firefighters and 22 station workers), 208 were diagnosed with radiation sickness. Approximately 400 thousand citizens were evacuated from the disaster zone. About 600 thousand to 800 thousand people (200 thousand from Russia) took part in works on the aftermath of the disaster. According to the UN report, the number of people directly or indirectly affected by the Chernobyl accident is 9 million, of which 3-4 million are children. The catastrophe cost the Soviet Union more than three times more than the total economic effect accumulated as a result of the work of all Soviet NPPs that were operated from 1954-1990 (IAEA, 1986; Hudson, 1990; Nuclear Society of the USSR, 1991; UNSCEAR, 2000; Checherov , 2002).
May 23, 1986. Ibid
Fire at the emergency unit 4 of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. The fire occurred in the area of the main circulation pumps of the unit. The dose rate of gamma radiation in this place was 50-200 R / h. Firefighters were brought to the fire site by armored personnel carriers. Due to high levels of radiation, they extinguished it in small groups of five people. The time of each of them was no more than 10 minutes. In extinguishing the fire, which lasted about 8 hours, 268 firefighters took part. Of these, 11 people received radiation doses over 20 R seven people - from 50 to 100 R (Mikeev, 2000; 3 archive VUCHK-GPU-NKVD-KGB, 2001a).
August 19, 1986. Ibid
The accident that occurred in the immediate vicinity of the fourth emergency power unit of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is the derailment of a special railway car with spent nuclear fuel. Civilian specialists could not cope with the accident, and for its elimination the soldiers of the railway troops of the USSR Ministry of Defense were involved. Two days later, the destroyed railway track was restored. Then within a few hours of the dedicated work of the soldiers and officers, the 180-ton wagon with nuclear fuel was put on the rails and removed from the territory of the emergency nuclear power plant. Radiation levels at the work site were 1–1.5 R / h (Shevchenko, 1998).
December 9, 1986. USA, Virginia, Sarri, Sarri NPP
As a result of the breakthrough of the pipeline of the second loop, 120 cubic meters of superheated radioactive water and steam were released. Eight nuclear power plant workers were boiling. Four of them died from their burns. The cause of the accident is corrosive wear of the pipeline, which led to a decrease in the wall thickness of the pipe (from 12 to 1.6 mm) (Riccio, 1988; List of accidents, 1996).
January 21, 1987. USSR, Sosnovy Bor, Leningrad NPP
An unauthorized increase in reactor power, which led to the melting of 12 fuel elements, contamination of the core with cesium-137 and the release of radioactive substances outside the nuclear power plant (Yablokov, 2000).
October 19, 1989. Spain, Vandelos, Vandelos NPP
The largest accident in the history of nuclear energy in Spain (the third level event on the INES scale). Fire at the first power unit of the NPP. Due to the sudden stop of one of the turbines, overheating and decomposition of lubricating oil occurred. The resulting hydrogen exploded, which caused the turbine to ignite. Since the station did not have an automatic fire extinguishing system, fire departments of neighboring cities were called, including at a distance of up to 100 kilometers from the nuclear power plant. The fight against fire lasted more than 4 hours. During this time, the turbine power supply and reactor cooling systems have been severely affected. Firefighters working at the station risked their lives. They did not know the location and functions of its facilities, they were not familiar with the emergency plan at nuclear power plants. Water was used to extinguish electrical systems instead of foam, which could lead to electric shock. In addition, people were not warned about the risk of working in areas with high levels of radiation. So three years after Chernobyl, firefighters, already in another country, became hostages of a dangerous situation at a nuclear power plant. Fortunately, this time none of them was hurt (WISE News Communique, 1989).
February 9, 1991. Japan, Father Honshu, Fukui Prefecture, Mihama NPP
The accident at a nuclear power plant 320 kilometers north-west of Tokyo. Due to the rupture of the pipe, 55 tons of radioactive water leaked from the cooling system of the reactor of the second power unit. There was no radioactive contamination of personnel and the locality, but the incident was considered at that time the most serious accident at Japanese nuclear power plants (Chronology of accidents, 1999)
October 11, 1991. Ukraine, Kiev region, Pripyat, Chernobyl NPP
As a result of a short circuit in the electrical cable there was a fire in the engine room of the second power unit. As in the accident at the fourth Chernobyl NPP unit in April 1986, the development of fire stimulated the use of combustible materials during its construction: thermoplastic concrete, roofing material and bitumen. Nine spans of the roof were destroyed, turbine equipment was disabled (Yablokov, 2000).
December 22, 1992. Russia, Sverdlovsk region, settlement Zarechny, Beloyarsk NPP
An accident during the transfer of liquid radioactive waste to special water treatment. Due to the negligence of staff, the pump maintenance room was flooded, and then about 15 cubic meters of radioactive waste flowed through a special drainage network into a cooling pond. The total activity of cesium-137 that has fallen into it is 6 mCi. The third-level incident on the international scale INES (Kuznetsov, 2000).
February 2, 1993. Russia, Murmansk region, pos. Polar Dawns, Kola NPP
During the hurricane in the Kolenergo power system, high-voltage transmission lines were damaged and there was a loss of external power sources of the Kola NPP. Station personnel could not start emergency diesel installations of the first and second power units. For 1 hour and 40 minutes, these blocks remained without energy (Sectoral Report, 2001).
July 25, 1996. Ukraine, Neteshin, Khmelnitsky NPP
The accident of the third level on a scale of INES. There was a release of radioactive products in the station premises. One person died (List of nuclear accidents, 2004).
April 10, 2003. Hungary, Paks, Paks NPP
During the scheduled repair work on the second power unit of the nuclear power plant, inert radioactive gases and radioactive iodine were released into the atmosphere. The reason is damage to the fuel assemblies during chemical cleaning of their surface in a special container. Level 3 crash on the INES scale (Reuters, 2003; NPP crashes, 2005).
July 4, 2003. Japan, Fukui Prefecture, Fugen Nuclear Complex
At the plant for processing radioactive waste from a nuclear complex 350 kilometers west of the city of Tokyo, an explosion occurred, causing a fire. The 165 MW experimental nuclear reactor, shut down in March 2003, was not affected by this incident (Accidents at Nuclear Power Plants, 2005).
May 20, 2004. Russia, Leningrad Region, Sosnovy Bor, Leningrad NPP
Emergency shutdown of the reactor of the fourth NPP unit and release of radioactive steam. The reason is unauthorized pressing of the emergency button in the operating room of the fourth power unit. There were no casualties; within 2 hours, a cloud of steam moved towards the settlement of Kaporye (Accidents at Nuclear Power Plants, 2005).
August 9, 2004. Japan, Father Honshu, Fukui Prefecture, Mihama NPP
The accident at the nuclear power plant, located 320 kilometers west of Tokyo. From the burst pipe of the second circuit of the cooling system of the third power unit, a jet of steam escaped with a temperature of 270 ° and scorched the workers who were in the turbine hall. Four people died, 18 were seriously injured (lzvestia.ru, 2004; RBC.ru, 2004).
August 25, 2004. Spain, Vandelos, Vandelos NPP
Major leakage of radioactive water from the cooling system of the reactor of the second NPP power unit. According to the Spanish Radiation Safety Board, this is the most serious accident at this nuclear power plant since the fire in 1989
Fukushima March 11, 2011
The accident at the Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant is a major radiation accident of the maximum 7th level according to the International Nuclear Event Scale, which occurred on March 11, 2011 as a result of an earthquake which was the strongest in the history of Japan and the tsunami that followed. The earthquake and tsunami hit disabled external power supplies and backup diesel generators, which caused the inoperability of all systems of normal and emergency cooling and led to the melting of the reactor core at power units 1, 2 and 3 in the first days of the accident. A month before the accident, the Japanese Ministry approved the operation of Unit 1 for the next 10 years.
In December 2013, the nuclear power plant was officially closed. At the station, work continues to eliminate the consequences of the accident. Japanese nuclear engineers estimate that bringing a facility to a stable, safe state can take up to 40 years.
Financial damage, including the costs of mitigation, decontamination and compensation costs, is estimated at $ 100 billion. As the work to eliminate the consequences will take years, the amount will increase.