Top Nuclear / Radioactive Accidents

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546px TMI cleanup 2
546px TMI cleanup 2

1. Three Mile Island

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When it comes to health effects and overall impact, the partial meltdown at Three Mile Island ranks rather low. It makes the list because its fame put it here. This accident could be the worst that an American nuclear power plant has experienced to date. Its fame derives not from solely what and where it just happened, but as much from what might have happened.Top Nuclear / Radioactive Accidents. The Three Mile Island nuclear accident serves as a huge reminder about how close a few of these plants are to populated areas and how easily a swing of luck could affect us in a huge way. The plant itself is named “Three Mile Island” because it's only three miles downriver from Middletown, Pennsylvania. Additionally there are three cities (York, Harrisburg, and Lancaster) within 25 miles of the location. Many of these areas has been potentially radioactively poisoned and/over evacuated. These fears were largely incited through the Chernobyl Incident we will learn about soon enough.

 

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2. Chernobyl

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Since 1986, the disaster in Chernobyl has influenced popular myths and realities alike.  A region of 19 miles (30 km) was subsequently cleared of men and women and remains mostly unoccupied to this day. Chernobyl itself was a small town of medieval origin, but even more famous is the now vacant city of Pripyat. An increasing quantity of tourists and photojournalists have visited the city's iconic locations, including the Ferris wheel and the amusement park.The accident at Chernobyl stands as a symbol of the diabolical nature of a Soviet regime who had been more worried about trying to hide the accident than getting its people the help they needed. Mythically, Chernobyl has been linked with the Russian movie S.T.A.L.K.E.R. (1979) due to the similarities involving the forbidden zones in the movie and in the actual world. Such a huge amount of folklore and mythology surrounds the zone that a series of games and movies have explored concepts from artifact hunters that delve into radioactive areas to mutant creatures lurking among the old ruins. Even the concrete structure used to support the melted down reactor is named a sarcophagus, like it is holding the corpse of a dormant beast.Top Nuclear / Radioactive Accidents. Never to be lost among the tales surrounding Chernobyl are the sacrifices produced by the firefighters and other workers on that first day that helped prevent even more widespread damage.

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3. Brazil’s Goiânia Accident

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Sometimes humans get creative with how exactly we spread our radioactive contamination. A radiotherapy medical institute, “Instituto Goiano de Radioterapia”, left one site for another in 1985.  The thing is they left some radiological equipment behind at their old host to business. A canister of highly radioactive material made its way out from the defunct premises and into the black market where it was repeatedly handled and pawned. Eventually, the unit made its solution to a scrapyard. Four individuals who handled the unit repeatedly perished. At least 249 others tested positive for radioactive exposure. Due to how radioactivity is dispersed, the Goiana accident is perhaps the most unique of the world's nuclear disasters.

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4. Fukushima Daiichi

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For reasons uknown, the Japanese thought it had been a good idea to position a nuclear power plant along shores frequented by earthquakes and subsequent tsunamis. It is amazing that the plant, commissioned since 1971, hadn't experienced a tragedy earlier. Unsurprisingly, an absurdly large quake and tsunami hit on March 11, 2011. Nature knocked Fukushima Daichi (Fukushima I), one of the 15 largest power plants on earth, out of business. Once cooling systems were flooded out and power low, radioactivity spewed forth. Top Nuclear / Radioactive Accidents. Reactors overheated while a hold was wear using seawater to prevent an imminent meltdown. By the time the red tape cleared to do permanent harm to the nuclear apparatus with the sea water, it had been too late to prevent the meltdowns. The end result is really a 20 square km restricted zone surrounding the area. Luckily geographical features prevented the requirement for a more substantial Chernobyl-sized zone. While this disaster currently ranks #2 on our list, future discoveries concerning the fitness of nearby Japanese citizens might easily push the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster past our current champion.

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5. Soviet Submarine K-19 Nuclear Accident

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If Captain Ahab donned a Russian accent and lived during the age of submarines, then it is likely his name will be Nikolai Vladimirovich Zateyev. Zateyev was the commander of K-19 at that time of its major crisis. K-19 was conducting drills in the Northern Atlantic when there clearly was a malfunction in the nuclear reactor's coolant system. What followed was one of many longest sail of shames in history. Zateyev refused help from the nearby American warships he was training to possibly destroy. When his crew grew displeased with being forced into a radioactive setting, their commander confiscated and threw all of their weapons overboard. The K-19 pill of pollution was dragged home by a diesel powered sub where it fouled the waters. The sub was considered this type of mechanical disaster so it was nicknamed “Hiroshima” by Soviet navy men.

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6. Lucens Reactor Partial Meltdown

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Luckily, the planet has yet to experience enough nuclear accidents to push this incident from the list. The partial meltdown of Sweden's Lucens reactor is actually a tale of proper caution when dealing with nuclear materials. Unlike all of the perpetrators which come later, the facility that served to pilot Sweden's nuclear power program was built-in a cavern. A fault in the coolant system (something you may notice like a recurring trend) triggered the partial meltdown of the reactor core. The Swedes sealed the cavern and later decontaminated it.Top Nuclear / Radioactive Accidents. No casualties were reported. This accident is the greatest that it gets for nuclear accidents as our list becomes increasingly fatal.

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7. Kyshtym Disaster

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Obviously outclassed in nuclear technology by their post-World War II American rivals, the Soviet Union became desperate to catch up. One of the end results was a sealed city named Ozyorsk (Soviets loved having classified towns and cities) that enshrouded a nuclear facility by the name of Mayak. Radioactive sludge was subsequently pumped directly into the Techa River (from there to the Ob River and ultimately the Arctic Ocean) and later stored at Lake Karachay (largely considered the absolute most densely polluted area in the world). As if this facility wasn't a tragedy already, there is an explosion on September 29, 1957. Over a half million individuals were affected by differing levels of radiation. Most of the towns across the Techa River, who'd recently been drinking deliberately contaminated water, were evacuated around per week later. Discretion, as usual, was the Soviets'chief concern. By the time they certainly were warned off, a number of these inhabitants had skin falling off of the faces and other mysterious ailments.

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8. Sinking of the USS Thresher

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The USS Thresher was a nuclear powered submarine jam-packed with leading edge technology. Sadly, the manufacturers overlooked one minor detail—ensuring that she'd stay afloat. She was launched in 1960 and endured a series of tests through the Caribbean and across the Atlantic coast of the United States. The very first trouble with the Thresher was in 1961 when she had to acquire a jump start from the World War II era, diesel-powered sub (the USS Cavalla). Plagued by mechanical injuries, the Thresher was eventually brought north for extensive overhauls. The vessel sank during its first test drive after its renovation. Days later, it was formally announced that 129 passengers were considered deceased.

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9. The Windscale Fire

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The post-World War II arms race was entirely force and the UK didn't wish to be left in the wind. In an endeavor to produce their first atomic bombs, the British built two reactors: Windscale Pile No. 1 and Windscale Pile No. 2. In October 1957, sometime during an unsuccessful three-day process of annealing, a fire erupted in the reactor of Pile No. 1. Overall the levels of casualties are estimated between 200-240 cases of cancer caused by the fire and subsequent radioactive release. The very first attempts at dowsing the flames came in the form of turning the plant's fans full blast (which served to fan the flames) and the dropping of liquid carbon dioxide. Water drops followed to no avail. Finally, the engineers realized that starving the fire of oxygen was the only real route to success.

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10. Radiotherapy Accident in Zaragoza, Spain

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Another mishap in the radio-therapeutic field, numerous cancer patients were cooked by an overpowered electron accelerator at the Clinic of Zaragova in 1990. Eleven patients met an earlier demise and at the very least 16 more were wounded. Symptoms included burnt skin, organs, and bone marrow. Exasperating the situation was a bad stroke of luck- namely, the delay of the annually scheduled safety board inspection. The accident was certainly not as widespread since the Goiânia accident, nonetheless it became more fatal to those afflicted.

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