List of radiation accidents
When people ask about accidents at nuclear power plants, the majority immediately recalls the tragedy at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and at Fukushima .
This article summarizes the most serious accidents at nuclear power plants worldwide.
Radiation disaster emergencies are classified according to the IAEA INES scale at one of 8 levels. The spread of radioactivity is classified on this scale from level 2 to 7, large levels correspond to greater danger. Thus, the risk of exposure to the population arises only at INES levels 4 and above.
List of radiation accidents
- December 12, 1952 - Accident at the Chock River Laboratory - Canada - INES 5
- September 29, 1957 - Kyshtym accident - USSR - INES 6
- October 10, 1957 - Windscale Accident - United Kingdom - 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 of Thule - Greenland
- May 24, 1968 - K-27 - USSR
- January 18, 1970 - Radiation accident at the Krasnoe Sormovo plant
- October 2, 1974, August 24, 1978 - Nuclear explosions in Yakutia - USSR
- January 24, 1978 - Space-954
- March 28, 1979 - Three Mile Island accident - USA - INES 5
- 1980 - Saint Laurent des Hautes - France— INES 4
- 1983 - Cosmos-1402 - USSR
- August 10, 1985 - Radiation accident in Chazhma Bay - USSR
- April 26, 1986 - Accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant - USSR, - INES 7
- May 4, 1986 - Failure of the fuel rod delivery mechanism. Attempts by the operator to correct the situation led to the destruction of the reactor vessel and a large emission of radiation - Hamm-Uentrop, Germany
- 1989 - Fire at the Vandelos NPP - Spain - INES 3
- 1993 - Accident at the Siberian Chemical Plant - Russia - INES 3 [source not specified 1371 days] or INES 4  
- September 30, 1999 - Accident at Tokaimura nuclear facility - Japan - INES 4
- 2005 - Sellafield - England - INES 3
- 2006 - Fleurus (2006)
- March 11, 2011 - Fukushima-1 accident - Japan - INES 7
Other radioactive contamination
- Since 1949 - Techa - USSR
- Since October 1951 - Lake Karachay - USSR
- 1980-1989 - Radioactive contamination in Kramatorsk - USSR
- 1987 - Radioactive contamination in Goiania - Brazil - INES 5
- 1985-1987 - Therac-25 - USA and Canada
December 12, 1952. Canada, Ontario, Chalk River, NRX Nuclear Power Plant
The world's first serious accident at a nuclear power plant. The technical error of the personnel led to overheating and partial melting of the core. Thousands of curies of fission products fell into the environment and about 3800 cubic meters of radioactively contaminated water was dumped directly onto the ground, in shallow trenches near the Ottawa River. The future president of the United States, Jimmy Carter, then a navy nuclear engineer (The Careless Atom, 1969), was a member of the environmental cleanup team.
October 5, 1966. USA, Michigan, Newport, Enrico Fermi Nuclear Power Plant
The 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 restart the reactor at full capacity (Let the Facts Speak, 1992).
October 17, 1969. France, Sant Lauren NPP
When reloading fuel while the reactor is running, the operator mistakenly loaded into the fuel channel not a fuel assembly but a device for regulating gas flow. As a result of the melting of five fuel elements, about 50 kilograms of molten fuel fell inside the reactor vessel. There was a release of radioactive products into the environment. The reactor was shut down for one year (Soloviev, 1992; Weaver, 1995).
March 20, 1975. USA, Alabama, Decatur, Brown Ferry Nuclear Power Plant
The fire at one of the largest US nuclear power plants, lasting 7 hours and causing direct property damage of $ 10 million. Two reactor units were disabled for more than a year, which brought additional losses of another 10 million dollars. The cause of the fire was the non-observance of safety measures when sealing cable entries passing through the wall of the reactor hall. Verification of this work was carried out in the most primitive way; by deflection of the flame of a burning stearin suppository. As a result, ignition of the insulation materials of the cable holes occurred, and then the fire penetrated into the reactor room. Great efforts were required to bring the reactor to failure-free mode and to eliminate the fire (Savelyev, 2003; List of nuclear accidents, 2004).
November 30, 1975. USSR, Sosnovy Bor, Leningrad NPP
An accident occurred with the release of a large amount 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 were thrown into the environment. Residents of adjacent territories were not notified of the danger. This was a third level incident on the INES scale (Medvedev, 1989; Belluna, 2004).
January 5, 1976. Czechoslovakia, Yaslovsk-Bohunice, NPP Bohunice
There was an accident related to fuel overload. With an extensive leak of "hot" radioactive gas, two plant workers died. The emergency exit through which they could leave the emergency site was blocked (in order to “prevent frequent cases of theft”). The population was not warned of an accidental release of radioactivity (Let the Facts Speak, 1992).
February 22, 1977. Czechoslovakia, Yaslovsk-Bohunice, NPP Bohunice
Accident when loading nuclear fuel at the first power unit of the station. The protective coating was not removed from the fresh fuel assembly; as a result, it partially melted, the technological channel broke and heavy water leaked. A further rapid increase in humidity in the primary circuit system led to damage to the fuel elements in the reactor core and fouling of this circuit by 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 operability was deemed too costly. In 2004, residents of the city of Yaslovsk-Bogunitsa 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. The municipality of the city also set its requirements. Its experts felt 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, Zarechny, Beloyarsk NPP
The fire at the second power unit of the nuclear power plant, which arose from the fall of the slab of the engine room on the oil tank of the turbogenerator. The entire control cable burned out. 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 Nuclear Power Plant
The largest accident in the history of US nuclear power. As a result of a series of equipment malfunctions and operator errors, 53 percent of the reactor core melted at the second power unit of the NPP. What happened was reminiscent of the "domino effect." First, the water pump went bad. Then, due to the interrupted 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 staff managed to restore the water supply and lower the temperature. During the accident, about 70 percent of the radioactive fission products accumulated in the core passed into the primary coolant. The exposure dose rate inside the vessel in which the reactor and the primary circuit system were enclosed reached 80 R / h. An inert radioactive gas was released into the atmosphere - xenon, as well as iodine. In addition, 185 cubic meters of weakly radioactive water were discharged into the Saskugan River. 200 thousand people were evacuated from the area exposed to radiation. Residents of Dauphin County living near the nuclear power plant were most affected. Serious negative consequences were the two-day delay in the decision to evacuate children and pregnant women from the 10-kilometer zone around the plant. The cleaning of the second power unit, which was almost completely destroyed as a result of the accident, took as long as 12 years and cost $ 1 billion, which actually bankrupted the company that owned the plant (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, Tsugura, Tsugura NPP
A leak of about 4 thousand gallons of highly radioactive water through a crack in the bottom of the building, where spent fuel assemblies were stored. 56 workers were exposed to this radiation. In total, four such leaks occurred between January 10 and March 8, 1981. During emergency recovery operations, 278 nuclear power plant employees received increased exposure (Let the Facts Speak, 1992).
October 15, 1982. USSR, Medzamor, Armenian NPP
Explosion of a generator at the first power unit of the Armenian nuclear power plant. The engine room was seriously damaged by a fire. Most of the personnel left the station in a panic, leaving the reactor unattended. The task force that arrived by plane from the Kola NPP helped operators who remained 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 the preparation for its launch. After spontaneous ignition of one of the relay blocks, the fire shaft rushed about a 50-meter cable shaft for 18 hours. As it turned out, the cause of the fire was the use of polyvinyl chloride insulation at the station, which ignited, melted and, breaking off, set fire to cable bundles 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 the 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 rupture occurred and 300-degree steam began to flow into the room where people worked. Killed 14 people. The accident occurred due to the erroneous actions of inexperienced personnel (Medvedev, 1989; Kuznetsov, 2000).
April 26, 1986. USSR, Ukraine, Kiev region, Pripyat, Chernobyl nuclear power plant
The largest radiation disaster in world history (seventh-level event on the INES international scale). At 1 hour 23 minutes 49 seconds (Moscow time), during the design tests of one of the safety systems at the fourth unit of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, two powerful explosions sounded that destroyed part of the reactor unit and the engine room. The TNT equivalent of these explosions is estimated at around 100-250 tons of TNT. Between April 26 and May 10, 1986, when the destroyed reactor was finally shut off, according to official information, about 190 tons (50 mCi) of radioactive substances were released into the atmosphere (about 4 percent of the total fuel activity in the reactor). According to other estimates, 90 to 100 percent of the fuel was thrown out of the reactor. Contaminated area of 160 thousand square kilometers. Most affected are the northern part of Ukraine, the west of Russia and Belarus. Radioactive fallout occurred (to one degree or another) in the territory of 20 states.
28 people were killed (6 firefighters and 22 employees of the station) from radiation damage received during the extinguishing of the fire that arose on the night of the accident, and 208 were diagnosed with radiation sickness. About 400 thousand citizens were evacuated from the disaster area. From 600 thousand to 800 thousand people (200 thousand from Russia) took part in the work to eliminate the consequences 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 operation of all Soviet nuclear power plants operating in 1954-1990 (IAEA, 1986; Hudson, 1990; Nuclear Society of the USSR, 1991; UNSCEAR, 2000; Checherov , 2002).
May 23, 1986. There
Fire at the emergency fourth power unit of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Ignition 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 scene of the fire by armored personnel carriers. Because of the high levels of radiation, they extinguished it in small groups - five people each. The operating time of each of them was no more than 10 minutes. In extinguishing the fire, which lasted about 8 hours, 268 fire fighters took part. Of these, 11 people received radiation doses in excess of 20 R, seven people - from 50 to 100 R (Mikeev, 2000; 3 archives of VUCHK-GPU-NKVD-KGB, 2001a).
August 19, 1986. There
The accident that occurred in the immediate vicinity of the fourth emergency power unit of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is a derailment of a special railway carriage with spent nuclear fuel. Civilian specialists could not cope with the accident, and soldiers of the railway troops of the USSR Ministry of Defense were involved in its liquidation. Two days later, the destroyed railway was restored. Then, within a few hours of selfless labor of soldiers and officers, a 180-ton carriage of nuclear fuel was put on railway rails and transported from the territory of the emergency nuclear power plant. The radiation levels at the work site were 1-1.5 R / h (Shevchenko, 1998).
December 9, 1986. USA, Virginia, Sarri, Sarri Nuclear Power Plant
As a result of the breakdown of the secondary circuit, 120 cubic meters of superheated radioactive water and steam were released. Eight employees of the nuclear power plant fell into a boiling stream. Four of them died from burns. The cause of the accident is the corrosive wear of the pipeline, which led to a decrease in the pipe wall thickness (from 12 to 1.6 mm) (Riccio, 1988; List of accidents, 1996).
January 21, 1987. USSR, Sosnovy Bor, Leningrad NPP
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, Vandellos, NPP "Vandellos"
The largest accident in the history of nuclear energy in Spain (the third level event on the INES scale). Fire at the first nuclear power unit. Due to the sudden stop of one of the turbines, overheating and decomposition of the lubricating oil occurred. The hydrogen formed in this case exploded, which caused the turbine to ignite. Since the automatic fire extinguishing system did not work at the station, fire departments of neighboring cities were called, including those located 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, power systems for turbines and reactor cooling were severely affected. Firefighters working at the station risked their lives. They did not know the location and functions of its facilities, were not familiar with the emergency plan for nuclear power plants. They used water instead of foam to extinguish electrical systems, which could lead to electric shock. In addition, people were not warned of 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 suffered much damage (WISE News Communique, 1989).
February 9, 1991. Japan, Honshu Island, Fukui Prefecture, Mihama NPP
Accident at a nuclear power plant 320 kilometers northwest of Tokyo. Due to a pipe rupture, 55 tons of radioactive water leaked from the cooling system of the reactor of the second power unit. No radioactive contamination of personnel and the area was noted, but the incident was considered at that time the most serious accident at Japanese nuclear power plants (Accident History, 1999)
October 11, 1991. Ukraine, Kiev region, Pripyat, Chernobyl nuclear power plant
As a result of a short circuit in the power cable, a fire occurred 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 the fire stimulated the use of combustible materials in its construction: thermoplastic concrete, roofing material and bitumen. Nine roof spans were destroyed, and turbine equipment was disabled (Yablokov, 2000).
December 22, 1992. Russia, Sverdlovsk Region, Zarechny, Beloyarsk NPP
Accident when pumping liquid radioactive waste to special water treatment Due to staff negligence, the pump service 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 entering it is 6 mCi. Level 3 incident on the international INES scale (Kuznetsov, 2000).
February 2, 1993. Russia, Murmansk region, pos. Polar Dawns, Kola NPP
During a hurricane in the Kolenergo power system, high-voltage power lines were damaged and external power sources of the Kola NPP were lost. Station staff failed to start emergency diesel installations of the first and second power units. For 1 hour 40 minutes, these blocks remained without energy (Industry Report, 2001).
July 25, 1996. Ukraine, Netishyn, Khmelnitsky NPP
Level 3 accident on the INES scale. There was a release of radioactive products into the premises of the station. One person died (List of nuclear accidents, 2004).
April 10, 2003. Hungary, Paks, Paks NPP
During scheduled repairs at 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. Accident of the third level according to the INES scale (Reuters, 2003; Accidents at nuclear power plants, 2005).
July 4, 2003. Japan, Fukui Prefecture, Fugen Nuclear Complex
An explosion occurred at a plant for processing radioactive waste from a nuclear complex 350 kilometers west of the city of Tokyo, resulting in a fire. The 165 MW experimental nuclear reactor, shut down in March 2003, was not affected by this accident (Accidents at nuclear power plants, 2005).
May 20, 2004. Russia, Leningrad Region, Sosnovy Bor, Leningrad NPP
Emergency shutdown of the reactor of the fourth power unit of the nuclear power plant and the release of radioactive vapor. The reason is the unauthorized pressing of the emergency button in the operating room of the fourth power unit. There were no injuries; within 2 hours, a vapor cloud moved towards the village of Kaporye (Accidents at nuclear power plants, 2005).
August 9, 2004. Japan, Honshu Island, Fukui Prefecture, Mihama NPP
Accident at a nuclear power plant located 320 kilometers west of Tokyo. A steam stream with a temperature of 270 ° escaped from a burst pipe of the second circuit of the cooling system of the third power unit and scalded the workers who were in the turbine hall. Four people were killed, 18 were seriously injured (lzvestia.ru, 2004; RBC.ru, 2004).
August 25, 2004. Spain, Vandellos, NPP "Vandellos"
Large leak of radioactive water from the cooling system of the reactor of the second power unit of the nuclear power plant. According to the Spanish Radiation Safety Council, this is the most serious accident at this 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 maximum level 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale, which occurred on March 11, 2011 as a result of the strongest earthquake in Japanese history and the ensuing tsunami. An earthquake and tsunami hit disabled external power supplies and standby diesel generators, which caused the inoperability of all normal and emergency cooling systems and led to the melting of the reactor core at power units 1, 2 and 3 in the early days of the accident. A month before the accident, the Japanese department approved the operation of power unit No. 1 for the next 10 years.
In December 2013, the nuclear power plant was officially closed. Work on liquidation of the consequences of the accident continues on the territory of the station. Japanese nuclear engineers estimate that bringing a facility to a stable, safe state can take up to 40 years.
Financial damage, including liquidation costs, decontamination costs and compensation, is estimated at $ 100 billion. Since remedial work will take years, the amount will increase.