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Accidents: 1980's


10 January
TSURUGA, JAPAN - The Natural Resources and Energy Agency has reported that 19 people were exposed to a maximum of 55 millirems of radioactivity. Over 16 days from 8th March, 138 people were exposed to a maximum of 155 millirems a day. The company sets the maximum permissible amount of radioactivity at 100 millirems over one day, 1,000 millirems over three months and 5,000 millirems over a year. ("The Age" 28th April, 1981)

12 January
TOKAIMURA, JAPAN - Two workers at the Tokaimura reprocessing plant in Japan were exposedto radiation on their hands last December. (W.I.S.E. Vol.3 No.1 April/May 1981 p.18)

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13 January
FUGEN TOKAI, JAPAN - Cracks were found on ten pipes in the Fugen Tokai reactor in the eastern part of Japan. (W.I.S.E. Vol.3 No.2 p.18)

15 January
INDIAN POINT, NY., U.S.A, - Small amounts of radiation found leaking, possible since early December, into auxiliary steam system and then into Hudson River from Indian Point Plant in New York State. (W.I.S.E. Vol.3 No.2 p.18)

19 January
SEQUOYAH, TN., U.S.A. - Generator tube malfunction forced a shutdown of T.V.A.'s Sequoyah nuclear power plant - second time in two days. (W.I.S.E. Vol.3 No.1 p.18)

21 January
JAPAN - Four workers at the Onrai Engineering Centre of Japan Fuel Co-operative were exposed to radiation. (W.I.S.E. Vol.3 No.2 p.18)

21 January
TSURUGA, JAPAN - The Natural Resources and Energy Agency has reported that 45 people working over three days from 19th January were exposed to a maximum of 92 millirems a day. The company sets the maximum permissible amount of radioactivity at 100 millirems over one day, 1,000 millirems over three months and 5,000 millirems over a year. ("The Age" 28th April, 1981)

26 January
TSURUGA, JAPAN - The Natural Resources and Energy Agency has reported that 76 people working for six days from 24th January were exposed to a maximum of 155 millirems a day. The company sets the maximum permissible amount of radioactivity at 100 millirems over one day, 1,000 millirems over three months and 5,000 millirems over a year. ("The Age" 28th April, 1981)

TROJAN, OREGON U.S.A. - Trojan nuclear plant in Oregon, U.S.A. shut down for two weeks to repair 300 gallon-a-day water leak that has allowed a minute amount of radioactive gas to escape. (W.I.S.E. Vol.3 No.2 p.18)

31 January
INDIAN POINT, NY., U.S.A - The New York State Power Authority's nuclear plant at Indian Point on the Hudson River about 35 miles north of New York City shut down on Saturday 31st January following a breakdown of one of its turbines. It will remain out of operation for "a minimum of several weeks. a spokesperson for the Authority said. No radioactivity was released following the breakdown, according to Mr. CLIFF SPIELER, the spokesperson. The plant has a history of problems with its turbines, which were made by Westinghouse Electric Corporation. It only recently went back into service after repairs to the turbines. ("Financial Review" 3/2/1981)

TMI, PA., U.S.A. - A member of the Commission which investigated the Three Mile Island nuclear accident has written a book charging "human error and incompetence" as the cause of the accident, and official "arrogance and falsehood" as the cause of the ensuing public confusion. The book, published yesterday, and called simply "Three Mile Island", is the work of Dr. MARK STEPHENS, a teaching fellow in communications at Stanford University, California, and a member of President Carter's Kemeney Commission into the disaster in Pennsylvania in March, 1979. ("The Age", 8th January 1981)

CHERBOURG, FRANCE - Radioactive material has escaped from a nuclear reprocessing plant at Cherbourg for the second time in a fortnight. ("The Western Mail" 17/1/1981)

6 February
TOKAIMURA, JAPAN - A small fire at the plutonium reprocessing plant in Tokaimura, Ibaraki prefecture, Japan, forced the evacuation of 86 workers. In another accident on the same day, steam was discovered leaking from a pipe in the nuclear fuel reprocessing plant. The reprocessing plant had gone into full operation on 17th January. Immediately after the full-scale operation was started, the Jet pump of the fuel melting furnace broke down. Another accident occurred on 4th February in the plutonium extracting process, forcing suspension of operations at the plant for a check-up. As a result of the 6th February accident, operations at the plant were suspended again. ("Japan Times" 8th February 1981)

11 February
SEQUOYAH, TN., U.S.A. - Operator error triggered the emergency alert, sending 100,000 gallons of 'slightly' radioactive water raining down on the heads of 14 workers at T.V.A.'s Sequoyah nuclear plant in Tennessee. The accident occurred whilst the plant was shut down for maintenance. The plant uses slightly contaminated water for emergency coolant, because clear water would raise costs "needlessly". (W.I.S.E. Vol.3 No.2 p.18)

14 February
SACAVEM, PORTUGAL - The nuclear reactor at Sacavem, Portugal, shut down after a leak had been discovered and 200 litres of radioactive water had already escaped. (W.I.S.E. Vol.3 No.2 p.18)

ADELAIDE, SOUTH AUSTRALIA - A survey by the Australian Atomic Energy Commission said levels of radon concentration from two tailing dams at Port Pirie were high, although the readings were below the recommended maximum levels for humane. (i) The A.A.E.C. report said there was cause for continuing Government concern about the radiation levels. The dams are covered by a slag filling and the report suggests a more permanent and secure capping. ("The News", Northern Territory 6th February 1981)

17 February
QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA - A small creek near the Minatome uranium stockpile at Ben Lomond in Northern Queensland showed radiation at twice the acceptable level during heavy rain in February 1981 according to State water Quality Council tests. State water officials said yesterday that the leak occurred when a cement cover cracked during extremely heavy rain. Tests taken on 17th February showed unacceptable radiation levels in Keel Bottom Creek a tributary of the Burdekin River which feeds the Charters Towers town water supply. ("The Age", 20/5/1981)

19 February
THREE MILE ISLAND, PA.,U.S.A. - On Thursday, 19th February, Metropolitan Edison (Met.Ed), which owns and operates the T.M.I. nuclear power plant, released information which indicates that higher than normal levels of radioactive Caesium 137 were found at one of the Island's monitoring stations. In a press release, Met.Ed. stated that on 11th February, one of the 15 monitoring stations registered the level of Caesium 137 at 371 picocuries/litre. The Environmental Protection Agency's maximum allowable level of Cadmium 137 over a year's time is 200 picocuries/litre. The highest level of Caesium 137 previously recorded at T.M.I. was 88 picocuries/litre. (W.I.S.E. Vol.3 No.2 p.14)

A report from the Washington based Centre for Defence Information says that nearly all of the most toxic radioactive wastes in the United States are produced by the military and are not stored safely enough.

The report also States that 99% of the most dangerous nuclear wastes come from military projects and are not subject to the storage safety standards the Government imposes on the nuclear energy industry. ("The Age" 2/3/1981).

OAK RIDGE, TENNESSEE, U.S.A - The Government-owned nuclear laboratory, Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Plant, Tennessee, accidentally released 11,270 lbs of radioactive uranium into the environment in 121 separate incidents since 1945. (Source: W.I.S.E. Vol.3 No.4 September 1981 p.18). In one such incident in May 1981, 52 workers were exposed to radioactive "mist".

BRUNSBETTEI, PHILLIPSBURG 1 & ISAR 1 WEST GERMANY - The West German Government has ordered the closure of four large nuclear power stations, one of them completed only a year ago. The four stations are Wuergassen in Lower Saxony, Brunsbettei in Schleswig-Holstein, Phillipsburg 1 in Baden and Isar 1 in Bavaria. All the Stations are of the boiling-water reactor type. The report said the closures were perhaps the largest single blow to nuclear power in Europe since programs began. The closures follow the shutdown four years ago of West Germany's only other large boiling-water reactor at Gundremingen, where two operators were killed by a steam valve failure. There was also a serious core accident ("Canberra Times" 23rd February, 1981)

T.M.I., PENNSYLVANIA, U.S.A. - Evidence of radioactive rodents has been found in a building near the damaged reactor at the Three Mile Island nuclear generating plant at Middletown, Pennsylvania. Plant officials said contaminated rodents would pose almost no danger to the public. Exterminating crews have been instructed to catch the rodents so that they could be tested for radioactivity. ("Weekend News", 28/2/1981)

6th March
BORSSELE, NETHERLANDS - Shortly after the changing of fuel rode at the Borssele nuclear power plant in the Netherlands, light radioactive material was found under the transport crane in the reactor building. (W.I.S.E. Vol.3 No.2 April/May 1981 p.18)

6 March
MARBALEE, AUSTRALIA - Holding pond containing radioactive waste overflowed at Narbalek uranium mine in Australia's Northern Territory. Radiation measures after the leak showed several hundred times normal level. The leak was first made public in August 1981. (W.I.S.E. Vol.3 No.6 November 1981 p.18)

Queensland Mines is responsible for a radioactive leak at the Narbalek uranium mine in Australia's Northern Territory. Heavy rainfall on 6th March from Cyclone Max caused a holding pond containing toxic waste to overflow. Radiation measures after the leak showed several times the normal level according to State Labour politician, Bob Collins, who exposed the accident in August 1981. The overflow was first detected by the company on 7th March 1981 but Queensland Mines did not report it to the supervising scientist until 14th July 1981. ("Financial Review" 16th October 1981)

8 March
TSURUGA, JAPAN - Japanese officials announced on the 18th April that a major accident had occurred on 8th March at the Japan Atomic Power Corporation Tsuruga plant in the Fukui Prefecture on the coast about 50 miles from Osaka. At least 4,000 gallons of highly radioactive water had leaked from the plant through a manhole and a crack in the floor of the waste processing building of the plant. 56 workers have been exposed to radioactivity in connection with the accident. Failure to close a valve in a storage tank resulted in an average amount of radioactive exposure of 10 millirems. The water, which leaked for three hours before being noticed by workers, eventually wound up in Urazoko Bay outside the plant, where high levels of Cobalt 60 and Manganese 54 were discovered in the bay's edible seaweed. Shortly after this latest accident was disclosed to the public, six plant executives, including the director, were immediately replaced because of their role in the cover-up. It was not until 40 days after the accident that the Government and the public learned what had happened. Since the original disclosure it has been discovered that a number of serious accidents have occurred at the plant, including ones on the 10th, 19th and 24th January. (W.I.S.E. Vol.3 No.3 June/July 1981 p.14)

8 March
TSURUGA, JAPAN - 278 workers have been exposed to radiation while repairing leaking pipes at the Tsuruga nuclear power station this year (1981). The Natural Resources and Energy Agency has ordered the power company to make a full report on all cases of radioactive leaks from its Tsuruga Station. The Agency said that there were four instances of nuclear waste leakage at the station between 10th January and 8th March 1981. In giving details of the cases the Company said:

- On 10th January, 19 people were exposed to a maximum of 55 millirems of radioactivity.

- 45 people working over three days from 19th January were exposed to a maximum of 92 millirems a day.

- 76 people working for six days from 24th January were exported to a maximum of 155 millirems a day.

- Over 16 days from 8th March, 138 people were exposed to a maximum of 155 millirems a day.

The Company sets the maximum permissible amount of radioactivity at 100 millirems over one day, 1,000 millirems over three months and 5,000 millirems over a year. ("The Age" 28th April, 1981) Following the 18th April revelations at Tsuruga, the Japanese Government ordered a check on all Japan's 22 nuclear power plants. ("The Age" 22nd April 1981) The Japan Atomic Power Company would be ordered to close its Tsuruga nuclear plant in Western Japan for six months for its failure to report a series of radioactive spills at the facility this year, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry officials announced on 19th May, 1981. It is the first time the Japanese Government has taken such action against an atomic power company. ("The Financial Review" 20th May 1981)

12 March
SALEM 1, NEW JERSEY, U.S.A. - Ten workers were evacuated from an auxiliary building at the Salem 1 nuclear power plant in southern New Jersey when low levels of radioactive material began to leak from a waste gas compressor pump. ("West Australian" 13th March 1981)

16 march
DUANE, PALO, IOWA, U.S.A. - A radioactive gas leak at the Duane Arnold Nuclear Plant near Palo, Iowa went unreported. The U.S, Nuclear Regulatory Commission will issue a citation to operators, claiming the report should have been made to N.R.C. Officials in Washington within an hour of the incident. ("Daily Iowan" 6th May 1981)

22 March
TIHANGE, BELGIUM - The 870 m.w. Tihange 1 reactor in West Belgium reported that radioactive liquid leaked from ruptured tanks and escaped the containment building. (W.I.S.E. Vol.3 No.3 June/July 1981 P.5)

UTAH, U.S.A. - Two workers at Utah's Blackwater Coal Mine are now receiving medical treatment after handling a radioactive isotope. Utah accepted blame for the incident. ("Tribune", 11th March 1981)

THREE MILE ISLAND, PA., U.S.A. - The operation to rid the Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant of radioactive material may not be completed until 1988, almost ten years after the installation was crippled by the worlds first major nuclear incident. The clean-up operation has been suspended while the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and other government organisations prepare environmental impact studies. The N.R.C. said it did not regard Three Mile Island as a safe waste disposal site. "Removing the damaged fuel and radioactive waste to suitable storage sites is the only reliable means of eliminating the risk of widespread contamination", the Commission report said. ("The Australian" 11th March 1981)

AUSTRALIA - A container of radioactive material has been missing from the University of Sydney for more than a month. The material - a mixture of Radium and Beryllium known as 10BQ - emits a low-level radiation from its neutron source, which could be dangerous to people continuously exposed to it. Police said the substance disappeared from the University on 30th January, but was only reported stolen on 17th March. ("Sun-Pictorial" Melbourne 19th March 1981)

U.S.A. - Government lawyers are drafting a lengthy court brief to rebut charges that radiation leaks from underground nuclear explosions have left a legacy of cancer in South Western states. U.S. officials recently disclosed at a Congressional hearing that 40 such leaks, known as "ventings", had occurred since 1963 - more than twice as many as previously admitted. Justice Department lawyers have contended that the radiation leaks pose no known danger. Their brief urges a Federal Judge not to award damages to the survivors of workers who were exposed to radiation leaks at the Nevada test site and who subsequently died of cancer. Dr. KARL MORGAN, a former Government scientist who specialises in the health effects of radiation, has said, "There is no such thing as a safe level of radiation". DR. MORGAN is expected to testify for the plaintiffs in upcoming cases. ("Daily News" 5th March 1981)

2 April
TSURUGA 1, TOKYO, JAPAN - An atomic power plant in Western Japan has been shut down because the Japan Atomic Power Company had failed to report a small hair crack in the turbine that resulted in radioactive water leaking from the cooling system, energy officials said today. The Natural Resources and Energy Agency said a team of specialists had been sent to Tsuruga No.1 power plant in Fukui State, to investigate the accident which occurred in January but was only reported yesterday after an employee disclosed the incident to the Nuclear Safety Commission in Tokyo. ("The Age", 3rd April 1981)

13 April
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - A panel van carrying infectious and radioactive waste and a quantity of the pesticide 245T was stolen in Brisbane. Police said it contained one drum of radioactive waste, six drums of infectious waste and about 250 mile of 245T. ("The Courier Mail" 14th April 1981)

AUSTRALIA - Cancer deaths in 1975 among victims of British nuclear bomb tests in Australia during the 1950's and early 1960's apparently were more than four times higher than in the overall population, it has been claimed. A spokesperson for the Australian Nuclear Veterans Association (A.N.V.A.) said that in 1975 eight women lost husbands who had been employed at the Maralinga or Emu Field test sites in South Australia. According to A.N.V.A. the cancer death rate among about 2,000 Australians involved in the secret testing represented four deaths per 1,000 compared with 0.69 per 1,000 for the whole population. A Government spokesperson said that it would be impossible to gauge the significance of such statistics without further knowledge. ("West Australian" 22/3/1981) A pilot study was announced by the Government for the 10th November 1981 to assess the health of 200 personnel who were involved in the U.K. atomic programs at Monte Bello, Emu and Maralinga in the 1950's.

JAPAN - Nuclear power plants in Japan are using Kamikaze squads of untrained labourers for dangerous work, according to a newspaper report. The Fukui Shimbun, quoting sub-contractors who supply labour to nuclear plants in Fukui Prefecture, said that labourers were imported from Osaka, 140 kms to the south, when radioactive levels for specific operations were considered too high for regular workers to be exposed to over an extended period. The Fukui Shimbun said that most of the labourers were brought in from lower-class working areas. By using temporary labour, plants were able to avoid violating health standards. ("West Australian" 29th April 1981)

U.S., COAST OFF JAPAN - Nuclear powered U.S.S. George Washington blamed for collision that sunk Japanese freighter "Nissho Maru" off coast of Japan, killing 2 on board freighter. (W.I.S.E. NC 262 31/10/86 )

WINDSCALE, UNITED KINGDOM - Severe criticism of past safety arrangements at British Nuclear Fuels nuclear waste-fuel reprocessing plant at Windscale, Cumbria, have been made by three investigators appointed to examine the organization. They have produced 15 major and many minor recommendations affecting the management of the factory, which handles all the waste fuel from nuclear power stations in Britain.

The investigation began more than 18 months ago after instances of workers being contaminated and radioactive liquid leaking. The report, in describing some of the more important incidents, disclosed that more than 100,000 curies of radioactivity had escaped over a period of years from one silo. The management was blamed for that accident, having shown, the report said, lack of judgement and of safety consciousness. British Nuclear Fuels said last night that the report was fair, comprehensive and constructive. ("West Australian", 13th April 1981)

NEVADA, U.S.A. - An elaborate exercise in which a helicopter carrying three nuclear bombs crashed into the Nevada desert revealed serious problems which could occur in the case of a real mishap. More than 700 U.S. officials were involved in the exercise - the biggest simulation of Broken Arrow, the code name for a nuclear weapons accident. ("The Age" - 24th April 1981).

UNITED KINGDOM - The British nuclear submarine Valiant. is undergoing repairs for a minor leak in its reactor cooling system. A naval spokesman said the source of the leak had been identified and was being repaired. ("The Age" 21st May 1981)

6 May
TSURUGA, JAPAN - A radioactive leak far worse than those uncovered recently occurred at the Japan Atomic Power Company's Tsuruga Power Plant six years ago, it has just been disclosed. The Company said the accident was discovered on 10/1/1975, when 13 tonnes of radioactive water leaked from a crack in a pipe. The Company said 37 workers were exposed. ("The Age" 6th May 1981)

22 May
BROWN'S FERRY 3, ALABAMA, U. S.A. - The Brown's Ferry Unit 3 nuclear reactor near Decatur, Alabama, was shut down on Friday, 22nd May, when a leak was discovered in the primary containment building. The leak was releasing 27 gallons per minute, forcing the reactor to go from full power to 30% before it was shut down. By the time the leak was located the following day, close to 10,000 gallons had been collected in the containment building. On 26th May, the reactor owners, Tennessee Valley Authority, announced that the reactor had been re-started and was expected to be operating at full power within a few days. (W.I.S.E. Vol.3 No.4 September 1981 p.9) Technicians have begun repairs on a cooling system leak that sent 38,000 litres of radioactive water into the biggest nuclear power plant in the U.S. The leak forced the shutdown of one reactor at the plant near Athena, Alabama. ("West Australian", 25th May 1981)

U.S.A. - Cancer may be caused by much lower levels of radiation than previously believed, according to a new study of the World War II atomic bomb blasts at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Reports on research being done at the Lawrence Livermore Weapons Laboratory in California and at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, although tentative, indicate that the risk of dying of cancer after exposure to low level gamma radiation could double and the probability of contracting cancer after gamma radiation could be quadrupled. Some scientists believe the new information strengthens the argument that there is no safe level of radiation; that every incremental bit of exposure increases the chances of injury. ("The Age", 16th May 1981)

JAPAN - Nearly 10% of construction workers surveyed at Japanese atomic power plants have been exposed to 100 millirems of radiation daily - a level exceeding the radiation control allowance - unofficially set by the atomic power industry, a union official has claimed. ("Financial Review" 15th May 1981)

JAPAN - In an amazing moment of truth, the U.S. Department of Transportation has admitted they have never inspected any irradiated nuclear fuel shipping casks or, for that matter, inspected any facilities shipping nuclear fuel. This admission was contained in a response to a Freedom of Information request by LINDSAY AUDIN of Ossing, New York, (7/5/1981). AUDIN then requested all 1980 shipping cask inspection reports from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The N.R.C. conducted a total of two inspections in 1980. Both inspections showed serious non-compliance with N.R.C. regulations. Two out of two is distinctly discomforting. (W.I.S.E. Vol.3 No.4 Sept. 1981 p.12)

2 June
U.S.A. - In the U.S.A. around $620,000 was awarded to the family of LEROY DRUMBACK on 2nd June, 1981. DRUMBACK worked for 15 years at the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons facility which produces Plutonium triggers for nuclear warheads. He died of cancer of the colon in January 1974 and his case is the first in which damages were awarded for cancer caused by radiation at Rocky Flats. Dow Chemical Company, the plant operator where Krumback worked, is appealing against the decision. (W.I.S.E. Vol.3 No.4 p.6)

3 June
INDIAN POINT 2, NY., U.S.A. - Indian Point No.2 nuclear plant in New York shut down automatically for six hours after the failure of an electrical relay - part of the plant's generator protection circuiting designed to monitor voltage generated by the plant and take corrective action if problems develop. (W.I.S.E. Vol.3 No.4 p.18)

7 June
SPICE 2, NEW JERSEY, U.S.A. - Salem 2 in New Jersey shut down because of a faulty valve just two days after beginning operations. While shut down for repairs, a faulty weld caused the valve to open and 3,000 gallons of radioactive water spilt into a containment basin. (W.I.S.E. Vol.3 No.4 p.18)

16 June
LOVIISA 1, FINLAND - Fault discovered in fuel rod case at Loviisa 1 nuclear plant 100 kms north-east of Helsinki, Finland. Operators acknowledge that faulty rod case caused higher than normal levels of radioactivity in unit's primary cooling water circuit but said no repairs would be made until rods are changed. (W.I.S.E. Vol.3 No.4 p.18)

19 June
DONALD C. COOK, MI,. U.S.A. - A spent fuel rod slipped to the bottom of a water-filled tank during routine refueling at the Donald C. Cook nuclear plant in Michigan, U.S.A. The N.R.C. described the accident as unserious, posing no danger to plant or area residents. (W.I.S.E. Vol.3 No.4 p.18)

KARACHI, PAKISTAN - Pakistan's nuclear energy reactor is situated in an earthquake zone according to Dr. I.H. USAMI, a senior United Nations energy advisor. Dr. USAMI recommends the Government set up an international commission to investigate the safety of the reactor. ("Canberra Times" 10th June 1981)

U.K. - In Britain 96,000 pounds sterling was paid out by British Nuclear Fuels to two families and a worker who is still employed at the Windscale reprocessing plant. The two workers died from cancer of the pancreas and leukemia. The man still employed at B.N.F. received 5,000 pounds sterling for pain and suffers from cataracts in both eyes and a kidney tumour. These payments are out of court settlements on cases financed by the General and Municipal Workers Union. The latter case is of great importance because the man was exposed to a lower level of radiation than the other two men. The decision recognized that low-level radiation can be proved to cause cancer. (W.I.S.E. Vol 3. No.4 p.6) .. see entry - May U.S.A. p.40

U.S.A. - On 7th July, three U.S. national safe energy groups sent a letter to members of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission charging the N.R.C. with dangerous negligence in failing to enforce a nuclear power plant emergency regulation. The rule in question requires plants to acquire the means to alert residents within a ten-mile radius of an accident at the plant within 15 minutes of its occurrence. Although the deadline for compliance to the rule was 1st July, approximately one half of the more than 70 U.S. nuclear plants have failed to comply, according to the "New York Times". "The only protection the public has is the ability to flee following an accident", the group says. "Failure to enforce the prompt notification requirement will strip the public of its only assurance of safety". (W.I.S.E. Vol.3 No.4 P.4)

13 July
HAMAOKA, JAPAN - 40 workers at the Hamaoka nuclear plant in Shizuoka Prefecture in Japan were exposed to radiation when one ton (1 cubic metre) of concentrated waste liquid and pressurized water leaked from the Unit 1 reactor. (W.I.S.E. Vol.3 No.4 p.18)

13 July
OI 1, FUKUMI, JAPAN - Operation was suspended at the Unit 1 reactor of the Oi nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture Japan, when pressure in a tank in the upper portion of the core dropped. (W.I.S.E. Vol.3 No.4 p.18)

14 July
SAN ONOFRE, CALIFORNIA, U.S.A. - A fire at the San Onofre nuclear plant in California (U.S.A.) that occurred during routine testing, knocked out one of the power plant's two back-up diesel generators. The plant was shut down for several weeks beginning 17th July. One month previously, the facility was returned to service after a 14 month shutdown for $67 million in repairs to 6,000 leaky and corroded tubes in three steam generators. (W.I.S.E. Vol.3 No.4 p.18)

An accidental "ignition" of hydrogen gasses in a holding tank of the San Onofre nuclear plant caused an explosion - which bent the bolts of an inspection hatch on the tank, allowing radioactive gasses in the tank to escape into a radioactive waste room. From there, the radioactive material was released into the atmosphere. (W.I.S.E. Vol.3 No.4 p.18)

21 July
HAMAOKA, Japan - 40 workers exposed to minor levels of radioactivity when one tonne of radioactive waste water leaked at the Hamaoka nuclear power plant in Shizuoka Prefecture. ("The West Australian" 22/7/1981)

23 July
HARWELL, UNITED KINGDOM - A leak of low level radioactive liquid has been discovered at Harwell atomic research station in Oxfordshire, the Atomic Energy Authority reported yesterday. There was no risk to staff, or the public, the authority said. The leak was from a ceramic pipe taking water used to wash down radioactive materials to a storage tank. ("The Age" 24th July 1981 "Daily News" 23rd July 1981)

30 July
LE PELLERIN, CIVAX, CHOOZ, GOLFECH, CATTENOM, FRANCE - On July 30th, the French Government decided to suspend the construction of 5 nuclear power installations; Le Pellerin, Civaux, Chooz and Golfech. The fifth plant, Cattenom, houses four units, two of which will be suspended. The Government gave no explanation of why it suspended these five installations and continues with others like Belleville, Nogent-sur-Seine, and Penly. (W.I.S.E. Vol.3 No.4 p.5)

OCONEE, U.S.A. - 54 workers at Oconee nuclear station were contaminated with radioactive water during refueling operations this month. The contamination occurred when cooling water leaked during refueling of one of the power plant's reactor between June 28 and July 10, 1981. ("The West Australian" 30th July 1981)

U.S.A. - A Department of Energy study has found that they have not applied many of the safety lessons learnt from the Three Mile Island reactor accident to its own 35 nuclear reactors. The inquiry panel said, "While the committee found no evidence that the reactors reviewed were being operated in an unsafe manner, the number and type of deficiencies noted give cause for a number of concerns." ("The Canberra Times" 8th July 1981)

NELSON PARADE, NEW SOUTH WALES, AUSTRALIA - Radioactive soil dumped in Nelson Parade, Hunters Hill, about four years ago is in rotting broken plastic bags. 60 years ago Nelson Parade was the site of a factory where uranium was treated and converted to radium to illuminate clock faces. Six residential blocks are affected to a varying degree by the radioactivity. The N.S.W. Government has considered dumping the soil at two sites in N.S.W., but public opposition or technical problems prevented the plane going ahead. ("The Sydney Morning Herald" 3/7/1981)

U.S.A. - An unemployed industrial radiographer has become the first American to die of radiation poisoning since the early days of the A-bomb experiments. Douglas Crofut (38) died in a hospital in Tulsa Oklahoma, July 1981, six months after he first sought medical attention for radiation burns on his chest and left arm. Officials said that the radiation destroyed his bone marrow, burnt off his left nipple and ate deep into his body like a cancer. ("The West Australian" 31st July 1981)

U.S.A.. - A report released at the end of July by Critical Mass Energy Project, a Ralph Nader affiliated anti-nuclear organization, claims that there were more than 3,804 mishaps at U.S. nuclear power plants in 1980. This is a 20% increase over the number of accidents reported in 1979. Approximately 100 of the mishaps were "especially significant" according to the Critical Mass Study. Of a total of 3,804 mishaps the study attributes 20% to human error, 161 to design flaws and 57% to equipment failure. The report concludes that the supposed benefits of nuclear power do not outweigh the clear risks involved. This study supports our long-held position that nuclear power is a dangerous and deeply flawed technology". (W.I.S.E. Vol.3 No.4 September 1981 p.9)

7 August
SEQUOYAH 1, TN., U..S.A. - Sequoyah nuclear power plant unit 1 in Tennessee shuts down for repairs on steam leaks inside the reactor and routine maintenance. (W.I.S.E. Vol.3 No.6 November 1981 p.18)

12 August
MURUROA ATOLL, SOUTH PACIFIC - On August 12, the French authorities in French Polynesia issued a communique declaring the temporary closure of the beach in the eastern part of the Mururoa Atoll against the possibility that "residues of the atmospheric tests conducted prior to 1975" might have been deposited there following bad weather. The French communique said "the temporary situation that has been created is a result of atmospheric testing and had no link with the underground testing that has been carried since 1975". It has also been reported from other sources that a huge gap, one to two feet wide and half a mile long, had been opened in the Atoll below sea level where there were serious leaks of radioactivity. The Australian Government has agreed to hold an inquiry. ("The News" (NT) 25/9/1981; W.I.S.E. Vol.3 No.6/11/1981 p.16)

CHINA - China appears to be encountering local criticism of its nuclear test program amid disturbing reports of contamination in arens in the far west Xinjiang region. A Chinese official has said that there has been an increase in the incidence of liver, lung and skin cancers, causing concern, and some cases were being sent to Peking. Another Chinese official was skeptical, saying nomads in Xinjiang did have a higher incidence of throat cancer, but this was because of their diet. The Lop Nur test in the Xinjiang Province has been in almost constant use for atmospheric tests over the past 20 years. China is one of the few countries still testing nuclear weapons in the atmosphere. It was at Lop Nur that the Chinese developed nuclear warheads for inter-continental ballistic missiles. China is highly secretive about its nuclear testing and little is known in the West about the Lop Nur site. ("Sydney Morning Herald" 25th August 1981)

22 September
TOKAIMURA, JAPAN - The Japanese reprocessing plant, Tokaimura, located 120 kilometres north-east of Tokyo, was closed down because of trouble in the rectifying tower and an interim holding tank. The holding tank problem appeared some time between September 12 and 14 when unusually high concentrations of Plutonium were detected. (W.I.S.E. Vol.3 No.6 November 1981 p.18)

JAPAN - Kazuyuki Iwesa, a subcontract worker for Japan Atomic Power Co., appealed to the Osaka High Court against a district court ruling which denies him compensation for an illness which he claims was caused by radiation exposure. At the Dermatology Department of Oaska University Hospital, his illness was diagnosed as radiation dermatitis. In court, Yohei Izawa, head of Dermatology of Chukyo Hospital, also said that Iwasa's symptoms were peculiar to radiation dermatitis. However, Takehiko Tauchlya, Professor of Radiology at Sango University, said on behalf of the power company that the dermatitis was caused by viruses interrupting the blood circulation and that Iwasa's lymphoma was attributable to a broken leg he suffered 30 years previously. At the High Court hearing, Iwasa claimed that the district court ruling had been based on the company's unfounded argument that strict safety mesaures had been in force at the plant. Since then forgery of plant operation day books, discharge of radioactive waste water to public sewage systems and other malpractices at the plant have been discovered. (W.I.S.E. Vol.3 No.4, 9/1981 p.6)

CANADA - The Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, representing over 200 groups throughout Canada, called on Prime Minister Trudeau to establish a one million dollar Atomic Veterans Defence Fund. The appeal was triggered by the April 14 decision of the Canadian Pension Commission in the Bjarnie Paulson case. At that time, the Pension Commission refused to grant compensation to Paulson, a veteran of the Royal Canadian Armed Forces who had been suffering for 15 years from multiple skin cancers and other ailments which he claims were caused by radioactive contamination in 1958. Mr Paulson was one of 600 men ordered to assist in a radioactive clean-up operation at the Chalk River Nuclear Laboratories following a major accident at a nuclear reactor there. (W.I.S.E. Vol.3 No.4 September 1981 p.6)

JAPAN - An anti-nuclear association in Fukui prefecture in Japan has filed a petition with the prefectural assembly seeking permanent suspension of the operations at the No.1 unit of the Tsuruga Nuclear power Station. The petition was backed by an amazing 108,962 signatures, collected after revelations of a series of accidents at the plant earlier this year.(W.I.S.E. Vol.3 No.4/9/1981 p.8)

4 October
WINDSCALE, U.K. - British Nuclear Fuels Ltd (BNFL) announced on October 8 that a release of irradiated Iodine-131 occurred on Sunday, October 4, from the Windscale reprocessing plant. The company did not inform the public of the leak until 4 days after it happened. (W.I.S.E. Vol.3 No.6 November 1981 p.12) A radiation leak has contaminated milk supplies within a 3 km radius of the Windscale nuclear plant in Cumbria. The accident was discovered last Sunday (4/10/81) but news of it was released only on the 10th October, 1981 by British Nuclear Fuels. The plant was shut down for 24 hours. ("Sydney Horning Herald" 10th October 1981)

INDIA - An atomic power plant in northern India has developed a radiation leak which could take up to a year to repair, says the Press Trust of India.

8 November
CRYSTAL RIVER, FLORIDA, U.S.A. - Florida Power Company officials said (8/11/81) that they have recovered 3,750 litres of radioactive water spilt at the company's reactor in Crystal River, Florida. The spill on the floor of the nuclear reactor occurred when the reactor was shut down for routine refueling. The Crystal river plant, cited earlier this year by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as being poorly managed, has been shut down since September 27 for refueling and maintenance. Crystal River had a similar accident a year ago when 115,000 litres of radioactive water spilt. That spill was also contained. ("The West Australian" 9/11/1981)

DIABLO CANYON, CA., U.S.A. - Shortly after the Abalone Alliance announced the end of the blockade of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, which involved approximately 1900 arrests, of which about 500 were second-time arrests, the owners, Pacific Gas and Electric, revealed at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Reactor Inquiry that start-up will be indefinitely postponed. PG cited problems with one of the structures in the plant's cooling System. PG & E have now confirmed that blueprints for the Unit 1 reactor, now completed, had somehow been switched with plans for the second unit now under construction. The switched diagrams are used in stress analysis of piping hanger systems and the mix-up has apparently affected both reactors' construction. One NRC official called it "a first rate screw up". Delay due to the mix-up could be as much as six months. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is also investigating improper construction and the plant's ability to withstand an earthquake. (W.I.S.E. Vol.3 No.6 November 1981 p.9)

RANGER, AUSTRALIA - The operators of the Ranger Uranium Mine, which was closed by the Northern Territory Government on 23rd November 1981, had been warned the previous month that the mine could be shut down because of an apparent safety breach. This warning followed an incident in October when two employees were found wading in a radioactive and acidic solution at the mine. Though both employees had been concerned about entering the solution, they were told by the Supervisor that there was no risk. The latest incident involved the discovery of a large island in the uranium treatment plants tailings pond. The island appeared on the 3rd November and remained until the 24th November. The company did not report the matter either to the Director of Mines or to the Supervising scientist. Under environmental guidelines the tailings have to be covered by at least two metres of water. It is believed that the company which owns Ranger, Energy Resources of Australia Limited, told officials it had not considered the island "important". ("The Age" November 25th 1981)

LA HAGUE, FRANCE COGEMA - Operators of the French re-processing plant at La Hague, have announced that reprocessing contracts with West Germany will have to be changed. Announced changes have to do with radiation concentrations in low and intermediate level wastes, which, according to existing contracts, are returned to the country of origin. Apparently COGEMA has not succeeded in reducing levels of radioactivity sufficiently to meet German standards. COGEMA is saying that concentrations of alpha radiation in wastes being returned to Germany will simply be raised. (W.I.S.E. Vol.3 No.6/ November 1981 p.12)

U.S.A. - The thick steel shell that surrounds the uranium core in nuclear reactors is being turned brittle so rapidly in 13 U.S. plants that, according to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (N.R.C.), some of the plants may become unsafe to operate by the end of next year. One high-ranking N.R.C. official went so far as to say some of the reactors might have to be modified or shut down. In all, 46 plants have a potential brittleness problem. The 13 plants of immediate concern have been in operation for anywhere from 3.0 to 10.3 full-power years. (These figures do not include the time the reactors were shut down for repair or refueling.) All 46 reactors are pressurized water reactors in which the water is kept under pressure of about 2,200 pounds per square inch to keep it from boiling away. (W.I.S.E. Vol.3 No.6 Nov. 1981 p.8)

U.K. (& FRANCE) - In a recently released report, a team of British scientists, who were investigating seaweed around the Channel Islands, claim that radionuclides were concentrated 100 to 10,000 times in bladder wrack, and although these concentrations are quite low, potential problems arise because large quantities of seaweed are used widely on farmland and small holdings as fertilizer. Thousands of fruit and vegetables already sold in the U.K. have been affected. One of the Channel Islands is only 8 km away from the re-processing plant at La Hague, France. (W.I.S.E. Vol.3 No.6 November 1981 p.16)

8 December
WESTERN AUSTRALIA - Waste containing five radioactive isotopes which were accidentally included in scrap metal sold to a steel company in Singapore by western Mining Corporation, has been returned to Perth (8/12/81). The shipment and final storage of the waste 35 km south of Kambalda has ended more than three years of haggling between Australia and Singapore over which country should be responsible for it. Although western Mining Corporation has never officially accepted responsibility it has agreed to store the waste material and has built a concrete bunker to take it. ("The West Australian" 26/11 and 8/12/1981)

OAK RIDGE, TENNESSEE, U.S.A. - The Government-owned nuclear laboratory, Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Plant, Tennessee, accidentally released 11,270 lbs of radioactive uranium into the environment in 121 separate incidents since 1945. (Source: W.I.S.E. Vol.3 No.4 September 1981 p.18). In one such incident in May 1981, 52 workers were exposed to radioactive "mist".

20 December
AUSTRALIA - The South Australian Minister for Health, Mrs. Jennifer Adamson, has called for a report on an incident involving workers handling uranium-contaminated equipment at an Adelaide laboratory. It has been alleged that two workers had their arms covered in yellow cake dust which spilled out of a container on December 7. The laboratory known as "Amdel" was set up by State and Federal Governments at the time of the Maralinga atomic tests in 1956. ("The Age" 21/12/1981)

AUSTRALIA - The widow of an atomic airman who died of throat cancer in 1972 after working on planes contaminated by nuclear radiation at South Australian atomic bomb tests in 1953 has been awarded $14,500 compensation. A precedent was set on bomb-test claims in August this year (1981) when a retired RAAF squadron leader, who tracked radioactive clouds in a bomber at Maralinga, became the first living person to win such a case. He suffers from cancer of the thyroid. The decision by the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Commission in the latest case has been seen as something of a landmark because the compensation was made solely on documentary evidence and opinion. ("The West Australian" 4th December 1981)

LAPORTE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA - Radioactivity has been found in the shells of crabs caught near Australind. It has also been found in effluent ponds around the Laporte chemical plant there. The radioactivity was found in a study by the Australian Radiation Laboratory. The study was requested by the W.A. Radiological Council after public concern was expressed about radioactivity late in 1979. ("Daily News" 28th December 1981)

Forty-nine nuclear explosions were carried out in 1981, according to the Hagforas Military Seismological Observatory in a report for the disarmament conference in Geneva. It said that the Soviet Union carried out 21 blasts, the United States 16, France 11 and Britain 1. ("The West Australian" 19th January 1982)

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