Nuclear plant accidents and incidents since 1952
Nuclear plant accidents and incidents since 1952

Nuclear plant accidents and incidents since 1952

A nuclear and radiation accident is defined by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as “an event that has led to significant consequences to people, the environment or the facility for 100 to 1000 of years in the future. Here are examples including lethal effects to individuals, large radioactivity release to the environment, reactor core melt.

YearIncidentAnomaly (1)  to major accident (7)CountryIAEA description
2011Fukushima5JapanReactor shutdown after the 2011 Sendai earthquake and tsunami; failure of emergency coolinag caused an explosion
2011Onagawa JapanReactor shutdown after the 2011 Sendai earthquake and tsunami caused a fire
2006Fleurus4BelgiumSevere health effects for a worker at a commercial irradiation facility as a result of high doses of radiation
2006Forsmark2SwedenDegraded safety functions for common cause failure in the emergency power supply system at nuclear power plant
2006Erwin USThirty-five litres of a highly enriched uranium solution leaked during transfer
2005Sellafield3UKRelease of large quantity of radioactive material, contained within the installation
2005Atucha2ArgentinaOverexposure of a worker at a power reactor exceeding the annual limit
2005Braidwood USNuclear material leak
2003Paks3HungaryPartially spent fuel rods undergoing cleaning in a tank of heavy water ruptured and spilled fuel pellets
1999Tokaimura4JapanFatal overexposures of workers following a criticality event at a nuclear facility
1999Yanangio3PeruIncident with radiography source resulting in severe radiation burns
1999Ikitelli3TurkeyLoss of a highly radioactive Co-60 source
1999Ishikawa2JapanControl rod malfunction
1993Tomsk4RussiaPressure buildup led to an explosive mechanical failure
1993Cadarache2FranceSpread of contamination to an area not expected by design
1989Vandellos3SpainNear accident caused by fire resulting in loss of safety systems at the nuclear power station
1989Greifswald GermanyExcessive heating which damaged ten fuel rods
1986Chernobyl7Ukraine (USSR)Widespread health and environmental effects. External release of a significant fraction of reactor core inventory
1986Hamm-Uentrop GermanySpherical fuel pebble became lodged in the pipe used to deliver fuel elements to the reactor
1981Tsuraga2JapanMore than 100 workers were exposed to doses of up to 155 millirem per day radiation
1980Saint Laurent des Eaux4FranceMelting of one channel of fuel in the reactor with no release outside the site
1979Three Mile Island5USSevere damage to the reactor core
1977Jaslovské Bohunice4CzechoslovakiaDamaged fuel integrity, extensive corrosion damage of fuel cladding and release of radioactivity
1969Lucens SwitzerlandTotal loss of coolant led to a power excursion and explosion of experimental reactor
1967Chapelcross UKGraphite debris partially blocked a fuel channel causing a fuel element to melt and catch fire
1966Monroe USSodium cooling system malfunction
1964Charlestown USError by a worker at a United Nuclear Corporation fuel facility led to an accidental criticality
1959Santa Susana Field Laboratory USPartial core meltdown
1958Chalk River CanadaDue to inadequate cooling a damaged uranium fuel rod caught fire and was torn in two
1958Vinča YugoslaviaDuring a subcritical counting experiment a power buildup went undetected – six scientists received high doses
1957Kyshtym6RussiaSignificant release of radioactive material to the environment from explosion of a high activity waste tank.
1957Windscale Pile5UKRelease of radioactive material to the environment following a fire in a reactor core
1952Chalk River5CanadaA reactor shutoff rod failure, combined with several operator errors, led to a major power excursion of more than double the reactor’s rated output at AECL’s NRX reactor

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