Archive for the ‘incidents’ Category

Westinghouse Nuclear Fuel Fabrication plant – a detailed history of troubles.

August 4, 2022

Dead fish near SC nuclear fuel site were an early warning. Then came the spills and accidents, The State, BY SAMMY FRETWELL, JULY 30, 2022 

“……………………………………………………. 1980: State regulators learn of a fish kill near the Westinghouse wastewater plant. They found elevated levels of fluoride and ammonia-nitrogen in groundwater and surface water. It was later determined that the pollution came from the plant wastewater area. 1980: Twenty plant workers evacuated from Westinghouse after a small leak of uranium hexafluoride gas.

1982: Westinghouse unable to find 9.5 pounds of slightly enriched uranium, according to an NRC report. 1983: State regulators fine Westinghouse $6,000 for illegally shipping flammable material that caused a fire at Barnwell County’s low-level nuclear waste dump. 1988: Radioactivity found in monitoring wells is thought to have come from prior leaks of industrial wastewater. Low concentrations of Uranium 235, 234 and 238 found.

1989: EPA investigators find an array of pollutants in groundwater at the Westinghouse site, some higher than safe drinking water levels. Vinyl Chloride and TCE, both of which can cause cancer, were found to exceed the drinking water standard. 1989: Twenty five dead deer discovered at the Westinghouse property, some of them in an area where wastewater was being discharged near the Congaree River. The deer reportedly died from nitrate poisoning, but public records reviewed by The State do not show an exact cause. 1992: Trichloroethene (TCE), cis-1,2-dichloroethene (CIS 1,2 DCE) and tetrachloroethene (PCE), are detected at amounts above the federal maximum contaminant level for safe drinking water. The high levels were found near the plant’s oil house.

1993: NRC fines Westinghouse $18,750 after alleging that the company failed to perform a criticality safety analysis and failed to conduct safety tests. 1994: Radioactive leak exposes 55 workers to uranium hexafluoride and shuts down the Westinghouse plant. 1997: The plant loses two low-enriched fuel rods. The NRC says five violations of NRC requirements occurred. Safety was not compromised, but problems “are indicative of inadequate management attention.’’

1998: Company fined $13,750 after NRC notes the “loss of criticality control,’’ a problem that could have led to an accident. The agency says a problem had gone uncorrected. 2000: NRC hits Westinghouse with a violation notice because an operator “willfully violated criticality safety procedures when preparing to mix a batch of powder.’’ 2000: Uranyl nitrate spills at the Westinghouse plant, causing a cleanup. When the cleanup began, workers found the spill was worse than originally thought.

2001: NRC hits Westinghouse with a violation for transporting 3 cylinders of licensed material with elevated radiation levels. 2001: Westinghouse fails to follow criticality safety rules at a uranium recovery area dissolver elevator, violation notice says. Containers were not stacked far enough apart, reducing safety. Westinghouse didn’t do enough to fix the problem. 2001: NRC issues a violation notice to Westinghouse after raising concerns about criticality safety, including failing to keep uranium powder mixing hoods properly separated.

2001: NRC hits Westinghouse with violation after criticality safety controls failed to work on the ammonium diurnate process lines. 2002: NRC letter tells Westinghouse that its criticality safety control efforts need improvement. NRC Regional Administrator Luis Reyes says the last two safety reviews have urged improvement for criticality safety. Letter notes concern about nuclear transportation program. 2002: NRC notice of investigation says a contractor for Westinghouse falsified records about the receipt and processing of materials. That resulted in a small amount of nuclear material being improperly shipped to nuclear site in Tennessee. 2004: NRC again raises concerns about criticality safety, the practice of making sure a nuclear chain reaction does not occur. Efforts to improve compliance with procedures and “implement criticality safety controls were not fully effective,’’ letter from regional administrator Luis Reyes says.

2004: NRC letter hits Westinghouse with a $24,000 fine. The company failed to maintain criticality controls as required. Ash in the company’s incinerator exceeded concentration limits for uranium. The Level 2 violation is, at the time, the most serious ever noted at the plant. 2008: Broken pipe spills radioactive material into the soil in the same area as a later 2011 leak, but Westinghouse doesn’t tell state or federal regulators for years. 2008: The NRC sanctions Westinghouse for losing sixteen sample vials of uranium hexafluoride. The company didn’t properly document and control the transfer of the vials and failed to secure them from “unauthorized removal.’’ 2008: Westinghouse hit with a violation notice after a worker disabled an alarm and bypassed a safety significant interlock.

2009: Westinghouse fires a contract foreman after federal regulators found that he had falsified records. Westinghouse also was cited by the NRC. The foreman certified that employees were trained in safety procedures, when they had not completed training.

2009: Westinghouse loses 25 pounds of pellets that were to be used in making nuclear fuel rods. NRC downplays danger but says Westinghouse should have kept better track of the nuclear material.

2010: NRC levies $17,500 fine against Westinghouse after uranium-bearing wastewater spilled inside the plant.

2011: Uranium leaks into ground beneath the Westinghouse plant, but federal inspectors weren’t told about it for years. NRC officials said they only learned about the spill in 2017.

2012: Worker exposed to uranium-containing acid and whisked to a hospital by emergency medical crews. The worker was treated for pain and released.

2012: Westinghouse fails to follow through on a report to improve the facility so it could better withstand an earthquake, NRC says. Recommendations had been made nine years previously.

2015: Three workers are injured when steam erupted from a wash tank. The workers are taken to a Columbia area hospital for treatment and later sent to the burn center in Augusta, which specializes in treating severe burns.

2016: A buildup of uranium that could have led to a small burst of radiation forces Westinghouse to shut down part of the fuel plant and temporarily lay off 170 workers, about one-tenth of its work force at the plant. The uranium found in the scrubber area is nearly three times the legal limit.

2017: Westinghouse worker exposed to a solution toxic enough to cause chemical burns when the solution sprayed him. 2018: Uranium leaks into the ground through a hole in the Westinghouse plant floor. An acid solution had eaten into the floor. Soil was contaminated.

2018. The NRC says Westinghouse allowed workers to walk across a protecting liner for years, which likely weakened the liner and contributed to a hole in the floor that allowed uranium solution to leak out.

2019: Fire breaks out in a drum laden with mop heads, rags and other cleaning equipment.

2019: State and federal authorities report that water had leaked through a rusty shipping container and onto barrels of uranium-tainted trash. Contaminants then leaked into the soil below the shipping container floor.

2019: Westinghouse sends three workers to the hospital after they complained of an unusual taste in their mouths while doing maintenance on equipment that contains hydrofluoric acid.

2019: Two contaminated barrels are shipped from the Westinghouse plant to Washington State after workers in South Carolina failed to properly examine the containers for signs of radioactive contamination.

2020. The NRC issues violation against Westinghouse, this time after questions arose about nuclear safety. The issue centered on improper security of tamper seals, used to keep nuclear material from being stolen.

2020. NRC reports finding 13 pinhole leaks in a protective liner.

2020: South Carolina officials raise concerns about earthquakes at Westinghouse.

Sources: NRC records and news reports from The State. https://www.thestate.com/news/local/environment/article263945551.html

Atoms and Ashes—lessons from six of the world’s worst nuclear disasters

August 4, 2022

This is a powerful and timely book. At a time when arguments for nuclear power are returning as a way to solve both climate change and the energy crisis, we need to arm ourselves with the arguments.  Not only is nuclear power not a solution to the problems we face, the lesson from this book is that it’s inherently dangerous and could have devastating consequences for life on earth.

https://socialistworker.co.uk/long-reads/atoms-to-ashes-lessons-from-six-of-the-wo2 27 June 22, Atoms and Ashes—from Bikini Atoll to Fukushima, the new book by Serhii Plokhy, is a compulsive but terrifying read, writes Amy Leather

Standing in front of Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant, Boris Johnson launched the Tories’ Energy Security Strategy in April. Nuclear energy was central to the plan. Johnson claimed the strategy would deliver “clean, affordable, secure power to the people for generations to come”. He called for 25 percent of our electricity to come from nuclear power by 2050—up from the current 16 percent. That means greatly increasing capacity, with Johnson bragging the first phase of the plan will involve building eight new nuclear reactors.

Reading Atoms and Ashes by Serhii Plokhy in this context is chilling. As Plokhy says at the start, his main purpose is to take a fresh look at the history of nuclear accidents. He looks at why they happened, how bad they were, what we can learn, and assesses if they could ever happen again.

To do this, he examines six of the world’s worst nuclear disasters—although he is very clear these are by no means the only accidents that have occurred. In fact, there have been hundreds of known incidents and probably even more that have been kept secret or covered up.

Plokhy starts with the Castle Bravo nuclear test that took place in March 1954 at Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands, in the Pacific. A miscalculation of the hydrogen bomb’s radiation yield and wind direction significantly damaged human health and the environment. The book ends with the Fukushima disaster of 2011, when a 43-foot-high tsunami crashed over the Japanese nuclear plant causing three reactors to go into meltdown.

In between these terrible events Plokhy explores the 1957 Kyshtym disaster in Russia’s Ural Mountains. The explosion of a nuclear waste tank released a massive amount of radiation into the atmosphere. He examines the reactor fire at the Windscale works in Cumbria in the same year. And then he looks at the reactor meltdowns at Three Mile Island in the US in 1979 and the 1986 nuclear disaster at Chernobyl in what is now Ukraine.

It confirms in revealing detail what many of us who’ve campaigned against nuclear power already know—that it is neither clean nor safe. And, rather than a legacy of “secure power”, it will leave future generations nuclear waste, contaminated water and land, and the cost of clean ups, decontamination and decommissioning.

The catastrophic explosion at the Chernobyl plant made the entire region uninhabitable, with up to half a million people permanently displaced. A report in September 2005 put the predicted final death toll from radiation induced cancers at 4,000 people.  The Union of Concerned Scientists suggests it could be more than six times that. Recent estimates put the number of deaths from the Fukushima disaster at 2,202 with some predicting thousands more extra cancer deaths. Around 150,000 people had to evacuate the region.  

Lots of dangerous material is generated from nuclear power. One of the solutions is to bury high level nuclear waste underground.  The US government buries its waste from weapons in New Mexico. The land will still be contaminated in 300,000 years’ time. Meanwhile in Japan, the future of over one million tons of contaminated water stored in a thousand tanks on the site of the Fukushima nuclear plant is unresolved. Last year the Japanese government decided to start releasing the water into the ocean—a process that could last decades and cause environmental damage.

Plokhy charts how the race to make atomic and hydrogen bombs drove the development of nuclear power during and just after the Second World War. Nuclear plants were first built to produce the plutonium needed for bombs, not to generate electricity. The first nuclear bombs were dropped by the US on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan in August 1945, with devastating consequences.

It wasn’t until the end of 1953 that the US launched the concept of “atoms for peace”. President Dwight Eisenhower claimed that the nuclear industry could produce “good atoms” for energy. It was an attempt to reassure people after concerns were raised about nuclear energy. He wanted to change public perception in the US in order to win support for more investment in nuclear arms and weapons.

In Britain the first nuclear plant was Windscale, built in the village of Seascale on the Cumbrian coast. Construction began in 1947 and it went operational in 1950. The purpose of the nuclear reactors was to produce the material for a British bomb. Successive prime ministers—Labour and Tory—wanted to boost British nuclear capabilities. In the context of the Cold War’s imperialist competition between the US and Russia and British imperial decline, they sought to prove

Britain’s worth to the US. That meant developing a nuclear bomb as quickly as possible.

From the very beginning this competition between states to develop nuclear weapons meant great secrecy, cutting corners, taking risks and an often-cavalier attitude to safety. It becomes clear as each disaster plays out that—whether it was in the US, Russia or Britain—there was little care about that or the people affected by accidents and tests.

For example, when it came to the nuclear bomb tests in the Marshall Islands, those in charge proceeded despite knowing the risks. The people living on some nearby islands were not even told the tests were happening. The colonial mindset of the US meant the indigenous people of the Marshall Islands were either ignored or moved at will. And once suffering from radiation, they were subject to studies—not to help them recover but to help the industry assess the effects of radiation.

For example, when it came to the nuclear bomb tests in the Marshall Islands, those in charge proceeded despite knowing the risks. The people living on some nearby islands were not even told the tests were happening. The colonial mindset of the US meant the indigenous people of the Marshall Islands were either ignored or moved at will. And once suffering from radiation, they were subject to studies—not to help them recover but to help the industry assess the effects of radiation.

.Competition and secrecy meant that scientists developing and building the new nuclear reactors could not properly learn from each other. For example, those building the Windscale Works in the 1950s only learnt of new developments piecemeal from the US. Often it was too late to incorporate them into the reactor design. Plokhy describes how the scientists and engineers at Windscale didn’t find out about the need for radiation filters to be fitted on the chimneys until after construction had begun.  Rather than start again, they were put at the top of the chimneys where they were less effective. Tellingly even this addition was nicknamed “Cockcroft’s Folly” after the man who insisted they had them at all. In fact, these filters helped trap much of the radiation when the reactor fire broke out.

From the start, Russia chose to use outdated and unsafe reactor designs. Safer ones would have taken longer to build and they had no time to spare when racing against the US. The operators and nuclear engineers at Chernobyl had not even been told about the previous accidents with this type of reactor. Similarly, no manager or operator at Three Mile Island had been told of problems with the type of reactor they were using. It had previously caused an accident at another plant.

The pressure to produce plutonium as quickly as possible meant cutting corners with safety. For example, something called “Wigner energy” builds up in the main body of the reactor while the fission reaction is taking place. This needs to be regularly released otherwise it ignites the graphite used to moderate the reaction. This special operation to release the excess energy is called “annealing”. But the procedure at Windscale required stopping the reactor, so reducing operational hours and productivity.  Under pressure from the government to produce more bomb fuel the Windscale Technical Committee had decided to reduce the number of anneals. By the time the anneal finally took place the day before the reactor fire in October 1957, it was long overdue.

At the Chernobyl nuclear plant, in order to meet the deadline of December 1983, the fourth reactor had gone operational before a key safety test.  It was not until April 1986 that plans were made to carry out this test. It meant shutting down the reactor. This is a very challenging operation and can lead to the reactor becoming unstable. What followed led to two massive blasts that flung off the shield that covered the top of the reactor. Masses of radioactive particles escaped into the atmosphere.

Prior to the disaster at Fukushima a scandal had broken out over the falsification of safety reports by the company—Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO). According to Plokhy, from as early as 1977 “there were at least two hundred cases in which the company had supplied false information about inspections not carried out and issued reports that papered over existing problems”.

Nuclear power stations are often portrayed as calm laboratories where the experts are in charge. Bill Gates, a founder of nuclear innovation company TerraPower, has said that any problems will be solved by “innovation” and the “laws of physics”.

However, the descriptions in the book show the complete opposite of a calm, controlled environment. As Plokhy says, “Hazard is inherent in all nuclear power.” Atomic fission itself is dangerous, and nuclear reactors can be unreliable and unpredictable.  The book makes clear how competition, secrecy, lack of communication as well as miscommunication make it extremely unsafe.

Plokhy describes almost minute by minute the trajectory of each disaster. In all of them, there comes a point when the scientists, the operators, the experts simply don’t know what to do to prevent the accident from worsening. In the end, due to the conditions they are operating under, they sometimes make decisions that actually make the situation worse. Or, by solving one problem, another one is created. At Windscale, they simply did not know how to stop the fire. At Chernobyl one issue among many was that they did not know if the radiation would get into the groundwater. And at Three Mile Island, two scientists were having a raging argument about what next steps to take in the midst of the emergency. Meanwhile, in every case, the authorities delayed evacuation plans.

.This is in no way to blame the individuals working at the time or those who had to deal with the accidents. They acted with immense bravery and sacrificed their own health, and even lives, to prevent greater disaster. Plokhy highlights how often the subsequent reports into accidents wrongly blame personnel and not the reactor designs. He illustrates how the conditions they were operating in and the nature of nuclear power led to such problems.

After each major accident, the authorities say they’ve learned the lessons and developed new technology that will prevent anything similar from happening.  However, Plokhy highlights that there was – and still is—an inherent safety problem with nuclear reactors being used to generate power. They were never designed for that purpose. The reactors were developed from military prototypes to produce plutonium or to power nuclear submarines. 

Many of the new, smaller reactors that have been designed from scratch to produce energy, are still at the computer-simulation stage and years away from construction. Plokhy predicts that the expansion in the number of plants now being proposed will increase the probability of accidents.  

Although it is not discussed in the book, it is worth remembering that nuclear power is not carbon neutral. While nuclear fission itself does not release carbon emissions, every other stage of the production process means greenhouse gases are pumped into the atmosphere. More than almost any other form of energy generation nuclear power requires a complex cycle of mining, generation, storage and disposal. And in 2022 there are new risk factors. As Plokhy has written elsewhere, “Warfare, economic collapse, climate change itself—all of these increasingly real risks make nuclear sites potentially perilous places.”

This is a powerful and timely book. At a time when arguments for nuclear power are returning as a way to solve both climate change and the energy crisis, we need to arm ourselves with the arguments.  Not only is nuclear power not a solution to the problems we face, the lesson from this book is that it’s inherently dangerous and could have devastating consequences for life on earth.

What happened at Santa Susana?

August 4, 2022

A meltdown contaminated a community. A fire made it worse

What happened at Santa Susana? — Beyond Nuclear International A 1959 meltdown and a 2018 fire compounded a tragedy
By Carmi Orenstein
When the United Nations Human Rights Council officially recognized access to “a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment” as a basic human right earlier last October, it was an acknowledgement fifty years in the making. It was backed by an international grassroots effort, with the journey to the final vote including the voices of more than 100,000 children around the world and multiple generations of allies pushing against powerful corporate opposition. 
Just about the time that this half-century-long campaign to enshrine the right to a safe environment kicked off, a story about the horrific violation of this same human right and its cover-up emerged in a community near my own childhood home in Southern California.

 In 1979, a UCLA student named Michael Rose uncovered evidence of a partial nuclear meltdown at the Santa Susana Field Lab (SSFL) in the Simi Hills outside of Los Angeles. The SSFL, formerly known as Rocketdyne, played key government roles throughout the Cold War, developing and testing rocket engines and conducting experiments with nuclear reactors. Today, as the result of a recently published peer-reviewed study that represents the dogged efforts of both professional researchers and a team of specially trained citizens, we have solid evidence of the spread of dangerous contamination from that site.

Santa Susan Field Laboratory 1958

Working with nuclear safety expert and then-UCLA professor Daniel Hirsch, Rose discovered documentation that the partial nuclear meltdown had occurred at SSFL twenty years earlier in 1959, releasing up to 459 times more radiation into the environment than the infamous meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear reactor in Pennsylvania. Unlike the Three Mile Island facility, the SSFL reactors lacked containment structures—those tell-tale concrete domes that surround commercial nuclear power plants to prevent radiation spread in case of a nuclear accident. 

In addition to the 1959 meltdown, at least three of the site’s other nuclear reactors experienced accidents (in 1957, 1964 and 1969), and radioactive and chemical wastes burned in open-air pits as a matter of practice. A “hot lab,” which may have been the nation’s largest, was also located at SSFL, and, in 1957, it burned and was known to have spread radioactivity throughout the site. A progress report from the period states, “Because such massive contamination was not anticipated, the planned logistics of cleanup were not adequate for the situation.”

The rest of this story is an object lesson in what happens when the right to a safe environment is not universally acknowledged and when secretive, long-forgotten toxic legacies of the Cold War meet the unpredictable chaos of the current climate crisis. Real people are harmed in ways that are not easily remediable—including, perhaps, members of my family.

The radioactive contamination of the surrounding environment caused by the partial nuclear meltdown at the 2,849-acre SSFL site was not cleaned up by the time of Rose’s revelation. Nor was the extensive toxic chemical contamination on site. It is still not cleaned up. Thus, when the climate chaos-fueled Woolsey Fire erupted at, and burned through, the SSFL in 2018, the flames served to spread the contamination even further. The fire quickly burned 80 percent of the SSFL property, and onward, all the way to the ocean. Pushed by high winds and uncontained for nearly two weeks, the Woolsey Fire killed three people outright and destroyed over 1,600 structures.

Today, public knowledge of the original disaster and its continued radioactive and toxic legacy is still patchy. The silence that surrounded the catastrophe in 1959 gave way to intermittent waves of focused media attention, celebrity involvement, and inquiry and outcry on the part of elected officials in the years since the 1979 expose. These have been followed by whistleblower accounts from former workers, and various forms of citizen activism. While occasional news of confidential legal settlements addressing illness and contamination breaks through, the Santa Susana disaster is hardly a household name—including among those of us who grew up in its shadow. 

The suburbs on either side of the SSFL, in Ventura County and a western edge of Los Angeles County, are still expanding. More than 500,000 people currently live within about ten miles of the site. Parents vs. SSFL is the dynamic, parent-led group currently at the helm of public monitoring of, and demand for, a comprehensive cleanup. On their social media sites, one often sees public comments from nearby residents along the lines of why were we not told?

To be sure, the history of site ownership and responsibility is complex and makes redress of grievance vexing. Although Rocketdyne owned the facility at the time of the meltdown, most of the site is now owned by Boeing. However, some of the property is owned by NASA, who in turn leases parts of its property as SSFL to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), the lead regulatory agency for remediation, entered into a Consent Order with these “responsible parties,” in 2007. In 2010, stricter agreements were signed with DOE and NASA to clean up the properties for which they are responsible to “background levels.” 

In 2017 a legally binding agreement deadline for completion of cleanup was blown by, with no meaningful cleanup begun. In 2018 the Woolsey Fire came roaring through. That fire is now documented to have redistributed radioactive materials and toxic chemicals in surrounding areas. Non-binding, confidential negotiations with Boeing were just announced early this year. It is a confounding and maddening journey to anyone attempting to follow.

As Melissa Bumstead, co-founder of Parents vs SSFL, said in a Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles press release about the new study: “The bottom line is, if SSFL had been cleaned up by 2017 as required by the cleanup agreements, the community wouldn’t have had to worry about contamination released by the Woolsey Fire.” …………………………………….

UCLA professor of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences Suzanne E. Paulson also weighed in. Speaking to a reporter the next year, Paulson explained

Assuming that radioactive material was in the soil [and] vegetation burned, it is reasonable that it traveled 30 miles downwind, and some of it got deposited in downwind areas… When soil and vegetation burn, the material in them, including metals [and] soil minerals, end up in the aerosol particles that make smoke look dark and hazy. They are small enough that they can remain in the atmosphere for up to a week and as a result can be widely dispersed.

At the end of 2018, just weeks after the Woolsey Fire was finally extinguished, work commenced on the independent study that was ultimately published online in early October and would appear in the December 2021 issue of the Journal of Environmental Radioactivity. This paper represents the work of community-volunteer citizen scientists who were trained to collect dust and ash samples in a 9-mile radius throughout the rural, urban, suburban, and undeveloped mountainous area around the SSFL. Their data collection was followed by the slow and careful work of scientific analysis. In a society whose governmental structures and policies decidedly are not guided by the Precautionary Principle today, and where there are no efficient mechanisms by which to correct past regulatory errors—no matter how grave—these volunteers and their three research leaders have provided powerful, incriminating evidence with which the community and its allies will push forward for the cleanup. 

…………………………. “Woolsey Fire ash did, in fact, spread SSFL-related radioactive microparticles.” The authors also wrote, “Excessive alpha radiation in small particles is of particular interest because of the relatively high risk of inhalation-related long-term biological damage from internal alpha emitters compared to external radiation.”……………………………………………..

How did the entities with knowledge and power continue to delay and obstruct while the population boomed and crept up the hillsides near the SSFL, knowing full well that powerful human health hazards were there to meet the communities, new and old? The statement by DTSC proclaiming that no contaminants were carried, while the Woolsey Fire was still burning, smacks of the most brazen regulatory capture. …………………………….. Carmi Orenstein is Program Director at Concerned Heath Professionals of New York.    https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/72759838/posts/4098311628

Nuclear incidents and meltdowns – far more than we realised.

April 30, 2022
THe diagram above is quite inadequate. Read on.

Incidents AND MELTDOWNS AND THERE ARE FAR MORE THAN WE REALISED
FUKUSHIMA
CHERNOBYL SELLAFIELD THE INLAND SANTA SUSANA FIRES SANTA SUSANNA MELTDOWNS. INCIDENTS ANS WILDFIRES AT LOS ALAMOS
WILD FIRES AT HANFORD
THE GREEN RUN
THE NUCLEAR MELTDOWN IN 1969 IN SWITZERLAND
The recent chinese reactor nuclear incident.

INCIDENTS 1957 to 2011

with multiple fatalitIies

September 29, 1957 Mayak, Kyshtym, Soviet Union The Kyshtym disaster was a radiation contamination accident (after a chemical explosion that occurred within a storage tank) at Mayak, a Nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in the Soviet Union.

October 10, 1957 Sellafield, Cumberland, United Kingdom Windscale fire was a fire at the British atomic bomb project (in a plutonium-production-reactor) damaged the core and released an estimated 740 terabecquerels of iodine-131 into the environment. A rudimentary smoke filter constructed over the main outlet chimney successfully prevented a far worse radiation leak.

MarchJuly 1959 ,  Santa Susana Field Lab ,  Western San Fernando Valley, USA. At least four of the ten nuclear reactors suffered accidents incl Partial meltdown, 1964, 1969 further accidents

January 3, 1961 Idaho Falls, Idaho, United States Explosion at SL-1 prototype at the National Reactor Testing Station. All 3 operators were killed when a control rod was removed too far.

October 5, 1966 Frenchtown Charter Township, Michigan, United States Meltdown of some fuel elements in the Fermi 1 Reactor at the Enrico Fermi Nuclear Generating Station. Little radiation leakage into the environment

January 21, 1969 Lucens reactor, Vaud, Switzerland On January 21, 1969, it suffered a loss-of-coolant accident, leading to meltdown of one fuel element and radioactive contamination of the cavern, which before was sealed.
December 7, 1975 Greifswald, East Germany Electrical error in Greifswald Nuclear Power Plant causes fire in the main trough that destroys control lines and five main coolant pumps

January 5, 1976 Jaslovské Bohunice, Czechoslovakia Malfunction during fuel replacement. Fuel rod ejected from reactor into the reactor hall by coolant

March 28, 1979 Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania, United States Loss of coolant and partial core meltdown due to operator errors and technical flaws. There is a small release of radioactive gases.

September 15, 1984 Athens, Alabama, United States Safety violations, operator error and design problems force a six-year outage at Browns Ferry Unit 2

March 9, 1985 Athens, Alabama, United States Instrumentation systems malfunction during startup, which led to suspension of operations at all three Browns Ferry

April 11, 1986 Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States Recurring equipment problems force emergency shutdown of Boston Edison’s Pilgrim Nuclear Power

April 26, 1986 Chernobyl, Chernobyl Raion (Now Ivankiv Raion), Kiev Oblast, Ukraininan SSR, Soviet Union A flawed reactor design and inadequate safety procedures led to a power surge that damaged the fuel rods of reactor no. 4 of the Chernobyl power plant. This caused an explosion and meltdown, necessitating the evacuation of 300,000 people and dispersing radioactive material across Europe (see Effects of the Chernobyl disaster).
Around 5% (5200 PBq) of the core was released into the atmosphere and downwind.

May 4, 1986 Hamm-Uentrop, West Germany Experimental THTR-300 reactor releases small amounts of fission products (0.1 GBq Co-60, Cs-137, Pa-233) to surrounding area 0 267
December 9, 1986 Surry, Virginia, United States Feedwater pipe break at Surry Nuclear Power Plant kills 4 workers 4
March 31, 1987 Delta, Pennsylvania, United States Peach Bottom units 2 and 3 shutdown due to cooling malfunctions and unexplained equipment problems 0 400

December 19, 1987 Lycoming, New York, United States Malfunctions force Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation to shut down Nine Mile Point Unit 1 0 150
March 17, 1989 Lusby, Maryland, United States Inspections at Calvert Cliff Units 1 and 2 reveal cracks at pressurized heater sleeves

October 19, 1989 Vandellòs, Spain A fire damaged the cooling system in unit 1 of the Vandellòs nuclear power plant, getting the core close to meltdown. The cooling system was restored before the meltdown but the unit had to be shut down due to the elevated cost of the repair

March 1992 Sosnovyi Bor, Leningrad Oblast, Russia An accident at the Sosnovy Bor nuclear plant leaked radioactive iodine into the air through a ruptured fuel channel.

February 20, 1996 Waterford, Connecticut, United States Leaking valve forces shutdown Millstone Nuclear Power Plant Units 1 and 2, multiple equipment failures found 0 254
September 2, 1996 Crystal River, Florida, United States Balance-of-plant equipment malfunction forces shutdown and extensive repairs at Crystal River

September 30, 1999 Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan Tokaimura nuclear accident killed two workers, and exposed one more to radiation levels above permissible limits.

February 16, 2002 Oak Harbor, Ohio, United States Severe corrosion of reactor vessel head forces 24-month outage of Davis-Besse reactor

April 10, 2003 Paks, Hungary Collapse of fuel rods at Paks Nuclear Power Plant unit 2 during its corrosion cleaning led to leakage of radioactive gases. It remained inactive for 18 months.

August 9, 2004 Fukui Prefecture, Japan Steam explosion at Mihama Nuclear Power Plant kills 4 workers and injures 7

July 25, 2006 Forsmark, Sweden An electrical fault at Forsmark Nuclear Power Plant caused multiple failures in safety systems that had the reactor to cool down

March 11, 2011 3 meltdowns Fukushima, Japan A tsunami flooded and damaged the plant’s 3 active reactors, drowning two workers. Loss of backup electrical power led to overheating, meltdowns, and evacuations.] One man died suddenly while carrying equipment during the clean-up. The plant’s reactors Nr. 4, 5 and 6 were inactive at the time.

September 12, 2011 Marcoule, France One person was killed and four injured, one seriously, in a blast at the Marcoule Nuclear Site. The explosion took place in a furnace used to melt metallic waste.

And this is the tip of the iceberg

Anniversary Of The Night Nuclear Bombs Fell Near Goldsboro  

April 30, 2022

Anniversary Of The Night Nuclear Bombs Fell Near Goldsboro   https://www.goldsborodailynews.com/2022/01/24/anniversary-of-the-night-nuclear-bombs-fell-near-goldsboro/January 24, 2022 Ken Conners

It’s the 61st anniversary of the big bang that, fortunately, never happened.

Around midnight on January 24th, 1961, a B-52G aircraft based at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base experienced a fuel leak and broke up in midair over Wayne County.

Five crewmen were able to successfully eject or bail out of the aircraft, but three did not survive the crash.

Two Mark 39 nuclear bombs being carried on the bomber plummeted to the earth, landing with the wreckage in the farmlands of Faro, about 12 miles north of Goldsboro.

Declassified information eventually showed one of the bombs came very close to detonating with 3 of 4 arming mechanisms being tripped in the crash.    One of the bombs was recovered while portions of the second sank into a muddy field never to be seen again.

1961 the thermonuclear bomb that they dropped in North Carolina

October 23, 2021

A thermonuclear bomb slammed into a US farm in 1961 — and part of it is still missing https://www.businessinsider.com.au/nuclear-bomb-accident-goldsboro-nc-swamp-2017-5?r=US&IR=T,DAVE MOSHER MAY 8, 2017,

  • In 1961, a US nuclear bomber broke up over North Carolina farmland, killing three of eight crew members.
  • The accident dropped two powerful hydrogen bombs over the area, but they did not detonate.
  • The military fully recovered one of the bombs.
  • While the second bomb was mostly recovered, one of its nuclear cores is likely still buried in up to 200 feet of mud and dirt.

Disaster struck early in the morning of January 24, 1961, as eight servicemen in a nuclear bomber were patrolling the skies near Goldsboro, North Carolina. They were an insurance policy against a surprise nuclear attack by Russia on the United States — a sobering threat at the time. The on-alert crew might survive the initial attack, the thinking went, to respond with two large nuclear weapons tucked into the belly of their B-52G Stratofortress jet.

Each Mark 39 thermonuclear bomb was about 12 feet long, weighed more than 6,200 pounds, and could detonate with the energy of 3.8 million tons of TNT. Such a blast could kill everyone and everything within a diameter of about 17 miles — roughly the area inside the Washington, DC, beltway.

But the jet aeroplane and three of its crew members never returned to base, and neither nor did a nuclear core from one of the bombs.

The plane broke up about 2,000 above the ground, nearly detonating one of the bombs in the process. Had the weapon exploded, the blast would have packed about 250 times the explosive power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

A major accident involving a nuclear weapon is called a “broken arrow,” and the US military has officially recognised 32 of them since 1950. A mysterious fuel leak, which the crew found out as a refuelling plane approached, led to the broken arrow incident over North Carolina in 1961. The leak quickly worsened, and the jet bomber “lost its tail, spun out of control, and, perhaps most important, lost control of its bomb bay doors before it lost two megaton nuclear bombs,” according to a twopart series about the accident by The Orange County Register newspaper.

“The plane crashed nose-first into a tobacco field a few paces away from Big Daddy Road just outside Goldsboro, N.C., about 60 miles east of Raleigh.” One bomb safely parachuted toward the ground and snagged on a tree. Crews quickly found it, inspected it, and moved it onto a truck. However, the parachute of the other bomb failed, causing it to slam into a swampy, muddy field and break into pieces.

It took crews about a week of digging to find the crumpled bomb and most of its parts. The military studied the bombs and learned that six out of seven steps to blow up one of them had engaged, according to the Register. Only one trigger stopped a blast — and that switch was set to “ARM,” yet somehow failed to detonate the bomb.

It was only “by the slightest margin of chance, literally the failure of two wires to cross, a nuclear explosion was averted,” said Robert McNamara, the US secretary of defence at the time, according to a declassified 1963 memo. “Had the device detonated, lethal fallout could have been deposited over Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia and as far north as New York City — putting millions of lives at risk,” according to a 2013 story by Ed Pilkington in the Guardian. Here’s a Nukemap simulation of what might have been the blast radius and fallout zone of the Goldsboro incident: [on original]

The thermonuclear core no one recovered

Both bombs were a thermonuclear design. So instead of just one nuclear core, these weapons — the most powerful type on Earth — had two nuclear cores. In the fleeting moments after the first core (called a primary) explodes, it releases a torrent of X-ray and other radiation. This radiation reflects off the inside of the bomb casing, which acts like a mirror to focus it on and set off the secondary core

The one-two punch compounds the efficiency and explosive power of a nuclear blast.

While the US military recovered the entire Goldsboro bomb that hung from a tree, the second bomb wasn’t fully recovered: Its secondary core was lost in the muck and the mire. Reports suggest the secondary core burrowed more than 100 feet into the ground at the crash site — possibly up to 200 feet down.

The missing secondary is thought to be made mostly of uranium-238, which is common and not weapons-grade material (but can still be deadly inside a thermonuclear weapon), plus some highly enriched uranium-235 (HEU), which is a weapons-grade material and a key ingredient in traditional atomic bombs.

Business Insider contacted the Department of Defence (DoD) to learn about the current status of the site and the missing secondary, and a representative said neither the DoD, Department of Energy, or USAF has “any ongoing projects or activities with this site.”

The DoD representative would not say whether or not the secondary was still there. However, the representative forwarded some responses by Joel Dobson, a local author who penned the book “The Goldsboro Broken Arrow“. “Nothing has changed [since 1961],” Dobson said, according to the DoD email. (Dobson did not return calls or emails from Business Insider.)

“The area is not marked or fenced. It is being farmed. The DOD has been granted a 400 foot in diameter easement which, doesn’t allow building of any kind but farming is OK.”

When asked about the still-missing secondary, Michael O’Hanlon, a US defence strategy specialist with the Brookings Institution, said there should be little to worry about. “Clearly, having a large part of a nuclear weapon on private land … is a bit unsettling. That said, I’m not suggesting anyone lose sleep over this,” O’Hanlon told Business Insider in an email. “It would take a serious operation to get at it, requiring tunnelling equipment and a fairly obvious and visible approach to the site by some kind of road convoy, presumably,” O’Hanlon added.

“Moreover, a secondary does NOT have a lot of HEU or plutonium … which makes it less dangerous because you can’t make a nuclear weapon out of it from scratch.”

But O’Hanlon at least hopes the DoD and others have thought through “the possibility of someone trying to steal it.” “After all, digging and tunnelling equipment has continued to improve over the years — and there is apparently no secret about where this weapon is located,” O’Hanlon said. “On balance, I’d rather it not be there — but don’t consider it a major national security risk, either.”

The Cold War near disasters at RAF Lakenheath could have left Suffolk as a nuclear wasteland

September 14, 2021
Boeing B-47B rocket-assisted take off on April 15, 1954. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The Cold War near disasters at RAF Lakenheath could have left Suffolk as a nuclear wasteland https://www.suffolknews.co.uk/mildenhall/go-anywhere-just-get-away-from-here-how-suffolk-almost-9215663/ By Dan Barker – dan.barker@iliffepublishing.co.uk , 13 September 2021  During the height of the Cold War nuclear bombs were dotted across the country, ready to wipe the USSR off the face of the map at a moment’s notice: but, on two separate occasions, Suffolk almost became victim to the very weapons which were meant to protect it.

July 27, 1956 was like any other summer’s day. Across the country attention was glued to the Ashes fourth test at Old Trafford, and four American airmen were in a B-47 bomber, on a routine training mission from RAF Lakenheath.  But, as they were practising touch-and-go landings, their bomber careered out of control and went off the runway.

it ploughed into an igloo containing three Mark-6 nuclear weapons, tearing the building apart.

The plane then

exploded, killing all four men on board, and showered the world-ending weapons with burning aviation fuel.

Most of A/C [Aircraft] wreckage pivoted on igloo and came to rest with A/C nose just beyond igloo bank which kept main fuel fire outside smashed igloo. “Preliminary exam by bomb disposal officers says a miracle that one Mark Six with exposed detonators sheared didn’t go. Firefighters extinguished fire around Mark Sixes fast.” – Telegram from RAF Lakenheath to Washington DC

Fortunately the atomic power of the bomb was missing that day, with the cores un-installed in all three for storage, but the explosives needed to trigger the deadly nuclear reaction were still in place.

With 8,000 pounds of high explosives combined with depleted uranium-238, they were a nuclear ticking time bomb as firefighters fought to put out the blaze.

Had they exploded the radioactive uranium would have been scattered over a wide area, and, depending on the wind, tens of thousands of people would have been at risk from the toxic dust across Suffolk.

Knowing the enormity of the situation base fire chief Master Sgt L. H. Dunn ordered his crew to ignore the burning wreckage of the bomber, and the airman inside, and douse the flames engulfing the nuclear storage building.

At the time it had been shrouded in secrecy, but decades later one senior US officer made it very clear how lucky Suffolk was to have narrowly missed out on a nuclear disaster.  “It is possible that part of Eastern England would have become a desert,” the then former officer told Omaha World Herald in Nebraska, who revealed the potentially catastrophic incident in November 1979.

Another said that “disaster was averted by tremendous heroism, good fortune and the will of God”.

A top secret telegram sent to Washington DC from the base, which has since been revealed, told of the near miss. “Most of A/C [Aircraft] wreckage pivoted on igloo and came to rest with A/C nose just beyond igloo bank which kept main fuel fire outside smashed igloo.

Another said that “disaster was averted by tremendous heroism, good fortune and the will of God”.

A top secret telegram sent to Washington DC from the base, which has since been revealed, told of the near miss. “Most of A/C [Aircraft] wreckage pivoted on igloo and came to rest with A/C nose just beyond igloo bank which kept main fuel fire outside smashed igloo.

Suffolk was lucky this time, but the incident caused great alarm in the British government, and it was decided it would try and block US authorities from ordering base evacuations because of the concern of causing mass panic in the country.

But what would happen if word got out that its most important ally had, almost, accidentally, made a huge part of the United Kingdom a nuclear wasteland?

Simple: Its policy for decades, if the press ever caught wind of the near miss, was to just deny it. After the news was broken in the American press in 1979, only then was it acknowledged something happened.

On November 5 that year the US Air Force and the Ministry of Defence would only admit the B-47 did crash.

In fact it took until 1996, some four decades after the near disaster, for the British state to accept the true scale of the accident in public.

But that near miss wasn’t the only one.

For on January 16, 1961, an F-100 Super Sabre, loaded with a Mark 28 hydrogen bomb caught on fire after the pilot jettisoned his fuel tanks when he switched his engines on.

As they hit the concrete runway the fuel ignited and engulfed the nuclear weapon – a 70 kilotons – and left it “scorched and blistered”.

Suffolk was saved again by the brave work of base firefighters who brought the blaze under control before the bomb’s high explosive detonated or its arming components activated.

T

errifyingly it was later discovered by American engineers that a flaw in the wiring of Mark 28 hydrogen bombs could allow prolonged heat to circumvent the safety mechanisms and trigger a nuclear explosion.

Had it gone, thousands of people would be dead within seconds, and thousands more would have been injured. As with the first incident, as well as the immediate blast, radioactive debris could have fallen in towns as far away as Ipswich and Lowestoft, given the right wind direction, spreading the toxic dust across Suffolk.

Since Clement Attlee ordered the scientists to investigate the creation of a nuclear bomb in August 1945, the British state has known that being a nuclear power comes with risk as well as reward.

It also knew it paid to be part of a nuclear alliance,

NATO, and with it came American nuclear bombs and the risk they brought.


Beyond the maths of working out how large the explosion would have been, it is impossible to know the true implications.

RAF Lakenheath was listed as a probable target for Soviet attack according to now released Cold War era documents, and intelligence agencies and war planners expected two 500 kiloton missiles to hit the site if the West was under attack.

Disaster creates uncertainty. Nobody would have known it was an accident within the minutes and hours after a blast, they would have just been dragged into a nuclear bunker and told of a large explosion at an airbase in Suffolk.

Where would that have left a British prime minister, an American president, and the rest of NATO, thinking they have come under attack?

In July 1956, and again in January 1961, those firefighters didn’t just save Suffolk … they might have saved the world.

Nuclear ballistic missile submarine meltdown, 1961

September 14, 2021
Ki19 Russianballistic missile submarine

August 24, https://www.quora.com/Has a nuclear submarine ever had a meltdown? Laurence Schmidt, Worked at Air Liquide America (1975–2010,

In the early Cold War Era, many Russian nuclear submarines had catastrophic engineering plant failures. These failures were caused by the soviet’s rush to equal the USN in its nuclear submarine ballistic missile program; they were poorly design and constructed, lack safety system redundancy and had haphazardly trained crews. But the crews of these boats were heroic in risking their lives to save their boats in stark life and death emergencies at sea.

One example is the case of the K-19, the first Russian nuclear powered ballistic missile submarine, nicknamed the “Hiroshima” boat, because of her numerous incidences.

On July 4, 1961, while at sea, one of its two nuclear reactors SCRAMMED. The primary cooling system had failed, flooding the reactor spare with radioactive water, and there was no backup system to cool the reactor core. As the reactor rods overheated, the engineering staff try a desperate plan to improvise a cooling system; to tie into the sub’s drinking water system. But it would require several men entering the highly radioactive reactor compartment to weld new piping to pumps and valves. The first jury-rigged attempt failed with 8 crewmen being horribly burnt by the high temperatures and exposed to lethal doses of radiation. They all soon died. After other attempts, the jury-rigged system finally worked, but other crew members too close to the reactor compartment would also soon die. The crew was evacuated to a nearby submarine, and the K-19 was towed back to base for repair. In total, 22 of the crew of 139 died of radiation sickness.

A section of the radiation contaminated hull was replaced, and a new power reactor unit was installed. The two original reactors, including their fuel rods, were dumped in the Kara Sea in 1965. A favorite dumping ground for Russian navy nuclear waste, including damaged nuclear reactors to whole ships.

Did the K-19 reactor meltdown? I would say yes.

Accidents in both USA’s and Russia’s use of nuclear power in space

February 18, 2021

Nuclear Rockets to Mars?, BY KARL GROSSMAN– CounterPunch, 16 Feb 21”…………There have been accidents in the history of the U.S.—and also the former Soviet Union and now Russia—using nuclear power in space.

And the NAS report, deep into it, does acknowledge how accidents can happen with its new scheme of using nuclear power on rockets for missions to Mars.

It says: “Safety assurance for nuclear systems is essential to protect operating personnel as well as the general public and Earth’s environment.” Thus under the report’s plan, the rockets with the nuclear reactors onboard would be launched “with fresh [uranium] fuel before they have operated at power to ensure that the amount of radioactivity on board remains as low as practicable.” The plans include “restricting reactor startup and operations in space until spacecraft are in nuclear safe orbits or trajectories that ensure safety of Earth’s population and environment” But, “Additional policies and practices need to be established to prevent unintended system reentry during return to Earth after reactors have been operated for extended periods of time.”

The worst U.S. accident involving the use of nuclear power in space came in 1964 when the U.S. satellite Transit 5BN-3, powered by a SNAP-9A plutonium-fueled radioisotope thermoelectric generator, failed to achieve orbit and fell from the sky, disintegrating as it burned up in the atmosphere, globally spreading plutonium—considering the deadliest of all radioactive substances. That accident was long linked to a spike in global lung cancer rates where the plutonium was spread, by Dr. John Gofman, an M.D. and Ph. D., a professor of medical physics at the University of California at Berkeley. He also had been involved in developing some of the first methods for isolating plutonium for the Manhattan Project.

NASA, after the SNAP-9A (SNAP for Systems Nuclear Auxiliary Power) accident became a pioneer in developing solar photovoltaic power. All U.S. satellites now are energized by solar power, as is the International Space Station.

The worst accident involving nuclear power in space in the Soviet/Russian space program occurred in 1978 when the Cosmos 954 satellite with a nuclear reactor aboard fell from orbit and spread radioactive debris over a 373-mile swath from Great Slave Lake to Baker Lake in Canada. There were 110 pounds of highly-enriched (nearly 90 percent) of uranium fuel on Cosmos 954.

Highly-enriched uranium—90 percent is atomic bomb-grade—would be used in one reactor design proposed in the NAS report. And thus there is a passage about it under “Proliferation and security.” It states that “HEU [highly enriched uranium] fuel, by virtue of the ease with which it could be diverted to the production of nuclear weapons, is a higher value target than HALEU [high assay low enriched uranium], especially during launch and reentry accidents away from the launch site. As a result, HEU is viewed by nonproliferation experts as requiring more security considerations. In addition, if the United States uses HEU for space reactors, it could become more difficult to convince other countries to reduce their use of HEU in civilian applications.”

As for rocket propulsion in the vacuum of space, it doesn’t take much conventional chemical propulsion to move a spacecraft—and fast……..more https://www.counterpunch.org/2021/02/16/nuclear-rockets-to-mars/

A history of nuclear weapons accidents

November 28, 2020
THE NUCLEAR  TREATY dividing the World, Byline Times, Stephen Colegrave, 21 October 2020  “……… A History Of Near Accidents  It is easy to be sympathetic with their position when the number of near nuclear weapons accidents are considered.
In early 2009, two nuclear submarines, the French Le Triomphant and British Vanguard, both carrying nuclear weapons, crashed into each other deep in the Atlantic. Fortunately, they were not going fast enough to cause much damage.Two years earlier, the American Air Force lost six nuclear armed cruise missiles for 36 hours when, unknown to anyone, they were fitted to a B-52 bomber and flown completely unauthorised to a base in Louisiana, left unguarded on the runway until anyone worked out what had happened.

In 2000, the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten reported that classified documents obtained by a group of former workers at the Thule airbase suggest that one of four hydrogen bombs on a B-52 bomber that crashed there in 1968 was never found.

There are many instances of false alarms and nuclear bombs nearly being launched. One of the most dangerous of these was stopped by little-known hero Lieutenant Colonel Petrov who, in 1983, probably really did save the world. When he was alerted by an early warning system that five nuclear missiles by America were coming towards the Soviet Union, instead of immediately raising the alarm to his superiors who would have ordered retaliation, he instinctively decided that, if there was an attack, more than five missiles would have been launched and rightly decided that the system was faulty.

These incidents seem to have done nothing to dent the UK and America’s insistence that nuclear weapons safeguard and guarantee peace. The old Cold War politics of nuclear deterrents can seemingly do nothing to deter democratic interference on social media or the global impact of COVID-19. Like scary but lumbering dinosaurs, our trident submarines roam the ocean’s depths with enormous fire power – just one missile can kill more than 10 million people – while Russian President Vladimir Putin interferes with democratic elections in the West for less than the price of a non-nuclear fighter jet.https://bylinetimes.com/2020/10/21/the-nuclear-treaty-dividing-the-world/