Nuclear Reactor Accidents

Master List

09/02/1944. Manhattan Project, Nevada, USA. Uranium enrichment device explosion and radiation release. 2 fatalities. Ref: Lutin.

08/21/1945. Manhattan Project, Nevada, USA. Hand pile assembly accident. 1 fatality. Ref: Lutin.

04/??/1946. Manhattan Project, Nevada, USA. Hand pile assembly accident. 1 fatality (8 workers contaminated). Ref: Lutin.

12/12/1952. NRX experimental reactor, Chalk River near Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Partial meltdown. No fatalities. Ref: AA, AUA, IP.

07/02/1956. Sylvania Electric Projects Metallurgy Atomic Research Center, Bayside, Queens, NY, USA. Two explosions. No fatalities (9 people injured). Ref: Lutin.

10/07/1957. Windscale-1 military plutonium-producing pile, UK. Reactor fire and radiation release contaminating 200 square miles. No fatalities reported. Ref: AA, AUA, IP.

??/??/1957. Nuclear waste dump, Chelyabinsk, USSR. Explosion forced evacuation of 10,000 people. No fatalities reported. Ref: AA, IP.

??/??/1957. Keleket Co., USA. Radioactive capsule explosion and contamination. No fatalities. Ref: Lutin.

12/30/1958. Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, NM, USA. Criticality accident in plutonium recovery operation. 1 fatality. Ref: Lutin.

07/26/1959. Santa Susanna Field Laboratory reactor, Simi Valley, California, USA. Partial meltdown (30%) and radiation release. No fatalities. Ref: Lutins.

01/03/1961. National Reactor Testing Station SL-1 military research reactor, Arco, ID, USA. NRC attributes this to sabotage. 3 fatalities. Ref: AA, AUA, Lutins.

07/04/1961. Soviet nuclear submarine K19 (Project 658, Hotel class). Radiation release from reactor. 8 fatalities (mean 5000-6000 rem each). Ref: AA, Bellona.

07/24/1964. United Nuclear Corp. fuel facility, Charlottestown, RI, USA. Criticality accident in uranium pouring. 1 fatality. Ref: Lutin.

10/05/1966. Enrico Fermi Fermi-1 commercial breeder reactor near Detroit, MI, USA. Partial meltdown. No fatalities. Ref: AA, AUA. A plant worker quoted in the press: "Let's face it. We almost lost Detroit."

01/21/1969. Experimental reactor, Lucens Vad, Switzerland. Radiation release into cave. No fatalities. Ref: AA, AUA.

11/19/1971. Northern States Power Co. commercial reactor, Monticello, MN. Overfilling of radioactive wastewater container and 50,000-gallon dump into Mississippi River. No fatalities. Ref: Lutin.

07/27/1972. Surry Unit 2 commercial reactor, Virginia, USA. Steam explosion. 2 fatalities. Ref: Lutin.

05/28/1974. AEC reports that of 861 abnormal incidents in the 42 US commercial reactors in 1973, 12 involved radiation releases "above permissible limits." Ref: Lutin.

03/22/1975. TVA Browns Ferry commercial reactor, near Athens, Alabama, USA. Fire. No fatalities. Ref: AUA, Lutin.

10/??/1975. USS Proteus, submarine tender, at Apra Harbor, Guam. Reactor wastewater dumped into the bay, resulting in background radiation levels of 0.1 rem/hr (50 times the permissible dose) on two local beaches. No fatalities. Ref: Lutin.

12/07/1976. Lubmin nuclear plant near Greifswald, DDR. Partial meltdown. No fatalities. Ref: IP.

??/??/1976. Czechoslovakia. 2 fatalities. Ref:

??/??/1976. Soviet nuclear submarine K386. Radiation release. 2 fatalities. Source: Bellona.

03/28/1979. Three-Mile Island TMI-2 commercial reactor near Middletown, PA, USA. Partial meltdown ("half the reactor core melted"), radiation release. No fatalities. Ref: AUA, IP, Lutin.

??/??/1980. Saint-Laurent-2 commercial reactor, France. Radiation release. No fatalities. Ref: AUA.

02/11/1981. TVA Sequoyah-1 commercial reactor, Tennessee, USA. Radioactive water leak. No fatalities (8 workers contaminated). Ref: AA, Lutin.

04/25/1981. Commercial nuclear reactor, Tsuruga, Japan. Radiation exposure. No fatalities (45 workers contaminated). Ref: AA.

07/??/1981. Nine-Mile-Point Unit 1 commercial reactor, Nine Mile Point, NY, USA. Nuclear material leak in basement (still contaminated), 50,000 gal. of nuclear wastewater dumped into Lake Ontario. No fatalities. Ref: Lutin.

01/25/1982. Rochester Gas and Electric Co. Ginna commercial reactor, near Rochester, NY, USA. Radiation release. No fatalities. Ref: Lutin.

01/15/1983. TVA Browns Ferry commercial reactor, near Athens, Alabama, USA. 208,000 gal. reactor wastewater dumped into Tennessee River. No fatalities. Ref: Lutin.

08/10/1985. Soviet nuclear submarine K314 (Project 671, Victor I-class). Steam explosion and radiation release, 6 km length of Sholtovo peninsula contaminated. 10 fatalities. Ref: Bellona.

04/26/1986. Chernobyl commercial (state socialist) reactor, near Kiev, Ukraine, USSR. Reactor fire and massive release of radiation to environment including Ukraine, Scandinavia, eastern Europe, western Europe, in decreasing order of severity. 31 fatalities (now 56), plus unknown number in general population. Ref: AA, AUA, IP.

12/09/1986. Surry Unit 2 commercial reactor, Virginia, USA. Steam explosion (again). 4 fatalities. Ref: Lutin.

??/??/1989. Vandellos, Spain commercial reactor. No fatalities. Ref: AUA.

03/24/1992. Sosnovy Bor commercial (state socialist) reactor near St. Petersburg, CIS. Radiation release. No fatalities. Ref: AA.

11/??/1995. Monju experimental fast breeder reactor, Japan. Radioactive sodium leak. No fatalities. Ref: AA.

03/??/1997. Power Reactor and Nuclear Fuel Development Corporation uranium reprocessing plant, Tokaimura, Japan. Fire and explosion. No fatalities (35 workers contaminated). Ref: AA.

09/30/1999. Power Reactor and Nuclear Fuel Development Corporation uranium reprocessing plant, Tokaimura, Japan. Uncontrolled chain reaction, 300,000 people ordered to stay indoors. 2 fatalities (AUA left this off their list but mentioned it in a footnote). Ref: AUA, IP.

03/06/2002. Davis-Besse commercial reactor, OH, USA. Massive corrosion of the reactor vessel discovered. NRC proposed banning a systems engineer from the industry for five years for falsifying reactor vessel logs. No fatalities. Ref: Lutin.

08/09/2004. Commercial nuclear power plant, Mihama, Japan. Steam explosion. 4 fatalities. Ref: IP.

Summary Table

DateLocationFacility TypeAccidentDeadContaminated
09/1944Manhattan Projectnuclear weapon production facilityenrichment device explosion, radiation release2?
08/1945Manhattan Projectnuclear weapon production facilityhand pile assembly accident1?
04/1956Manhattan Projectnuclear weapon production facilityhand pile assembly accident18 plant workers
12/1952NRXexperimental reactorpartial meltdown0?
07/1956Sylvania Electric Projects Metallurgy Atomic Research Centerresearch facility2 explosions09 plant workers injured
10/1957Windscale Unit 1military Pu processing pilereactor fire, radiation release0200 square miles near Windscale, UK
??/1957Chelyabinsknuclear waste dumpexplosion, radiation release010,000 people evacuated
??/1957Keleket Co.Medical radioactives production facilitycapsule explosion and contamination0?
12/1958Los Alamos Scientific LaboratoryPu recovery operationCriticality accident1?
07/1959Santa Susanna Field Laboratoryresearch reactorpartial meltdown, radiation release0Simi Valley, CA
01/1961National Reactor Testing Station SL-1military research reactorsabotage, explosion3?
07/1961K19 "The Widow Maker"military submarineradiation release8?
07/1964Charlottestown Facilityfuel processing plantcriticality accident1?
10/1966Enrico Fermi Unit 1breeder power plantpartial meltdown0?
01/1969Lucens Vadexperimental reactorradiation release0local Swiss cave
11/1971Monticellopower plant50,000 gal. radioactive water spill0Mississippi River
07/1972Surry Unit 2power plantsteam explosion2?
??/197312 US power plantspower plantsradiation releases "above permissible limits"0?
03/1975Brown's Ferrypower plantfire0?
10/1975USS Proteusmilitary submarine tenderreactor wastewater dumped into bay0Apra Harbor, Guam, 2 local beaches
12/1976Lubminpower plantpartial meltdown0?
??/1976unidentified Czech plantpower plant?2?
??/1976K386military submarineradiation release2?
03/1979Three Mile Island Unit 2power plantpartial meltdown, radiation release0Middletown PA area
??/1980Saint-Laurent Unit 2power plantradiation release0?
02/1981Sequoyah Unit 1power plantradioactive water leak08 plant workers
04/1981Tsurugapower plantradiation exposure045 plant workers
07/1981Nine Mile Point Unit 1power plant50,000 gal. fissiles leak0Lake Ontario
01/1982Ginnapower planetRadiation release0Rochester NY area
01/1983Browns Ferrypower plant208,000 gal. reactor wastewater dump0Tennessee River
08/1985K13military submarinesteam explosion, radiation release106 km of Sholtovo Peninsula
04/1986Chernobylpower plantreactor fire, fissiles release56+thousands in Ukraine, Scandinavia, etc.
12/1986Surry Unit 2power plantsteam explosion4?
??/1989Vandellospower plant?0?
03/1992Sosnovy Borpower plantradiation release0?
11/1995Monjuexperimental breederradioactive Na leak0?
03/1997Tokaimurapower/reprocessing plantfire, explosion035 plant workers
09/1999Tokaimurapower/reprocessing plantuncontrolled chain reaction2?
03/2002Davis-Bessepower planetcorrosion found0?
08/2004Mihamapower plantsteam explosion4?


AA: "Special Report: Accident in Japan. Major Nuclear Power Plant Accidents." National Science Foundation., accessed 3/02/2007.

AUA: Australia Uranium Association 2007. Safety of Nuclear Power Reactors. Nuclear Issues Briefing Paper 14., accessed 3/02/2007.

Bellona: Bellona Foundation 1996. "The Russian Northern Fleet. 8. Nuclear Submarine Accidents.", accessed 3/02/2007.

IP: Pearson Education, Inc. 2007. Information Please Database., accessed 03/02/2007.

Lutins, Allen 2006. "U.S. Nuclear Accidents.", accessed 3/02/2007.

Page created:12/13/2009
Last modified:  02/09/2011