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Accidents 1980's

1986

January
USA -Pounds of plutonium and highly enriched uranium missing from United States inventories.

January 15
USA - The US navy has recorded 630 safety "incidents" related to nuclear weapons aboard ships and aircraft and at on-shore sites from 1965 to 1985, and two "accidents". ("The West Australian",

"The Age" 17/1/86, "The West Australian" 20/1/86)

January

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MADRID, SPAIN - Twenty years ago a US B52 bomber collided with a KC-135 tanker during an in-flight refuelling over a remote Spanish village, Palomares. Four 25-megaton H-bombs dropped on the village exposing the 1200 inhabitants to Plutonium 239. ("The West Australian" 20/1/86)

February
TRAWSFYNYDD 1, WALES, UK - A pressure valve opened on top of one of the two heat exchangers which generate steam at the No 1 reactor at Trawsfynydd nuclear power station. 13 tons of coolant carbon dioxide were released to the atmosphere in 14 minutes before the valve was manually closed. Small quantities of neutron induced radioactivity (not fission products) escaped in the gas. The Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB) which operates the plant, described the accident as "minor". According to "The Guardian" (March 7) the radiation released by the accident was estimated to have extended 5-19 kms down wind from the plant. The releases included Manganese-56, Tritium, Sulphur-35 and Cobalt-60. (SCRAM Journal Apr/May 86, "Western Maila" 3 Mar 86, "The Guardian" 7 Mar 86, WISE NC 254, 13/6/86)

February
RANGER, AUSTRALIA - Contaminated water from the Ranger Uranium mine has been released into Magela Creek in the Kakadu National Park after the Northern Territory Government gave ERA Ltd permission to release two million cubic meters of water from a retention pond.("The Age" 3/2/86, "The Age" 6/2/86)

February
WINDSCALE (SELLAFIELD) UK - A Plutonium mist has leaked at Britain's only nuclear processing plant at Sellafield. ("The Daily News" 6/2/86, "The Age" 7/3/86)

February
SELLAFIELD, UK - Britain's only nuclear processing plant has had its second radioactive leak this month amid complaints from Irish officials over the discharge of uranium from the plant into the Irish Sea. ("The Age", "The West Australian" 20/2/86)

March
SELLAFIELD, UK - Another five workers were contaminated with radioactivity in another leak at the Sellafield nuclear processing plant in Cumbria. This is the fourth incident in the past five weeks. ("The Age" 3/3/86, "The West Australian" 4/3/86) As the people of the village of Seascale continue to live their lives in the shadow of the Sellafield nuclear plant, leukeemia is 10 times the national average among the area's children under 15. ("The West Australian" 18/3/86)

April
US OFF IRISH SEA - The nuclear powered submarine U.S.S. "Nathan AEC/Greene" ran aground in the Irish Sea and was severely damaged. (WISE NC 262 31/10/86)

March
EMBALSE, ARGENTINA - Local concern over leaking water is apparently why Argentina's Commission National de Energia Atomica (CNEA) shutdown of its Embulse nuclear power reactor. Official denials that there was any direct discharge of heavy water into a nearby reservoir, but says "light amounts of heavy water did apparently mix with reservoir water. "The CNEA shut down the plant for political rather than safety resaons. ("Nucleonics Week" - 20 Mar 86 (WISE NC 252 16 May 86)

April
US OFF GIBRALTAR - U.S.S. "Atlanta" ran aground in Straits of Gibraltar, punching a hole in ballast tank. Officials said no radiation leaked and no crew members were hurt. (WISE NC 262 31/10/86)

April
(CHERNOBYL) KIEV, UKRAINE, USSR - A major nuclear accident occurred at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, in the Soviet Union, spreading a huge cloud of radioactive material over Scandinavian countries. ("The Daily News" 29/4/86, "The West Australian", "The Financial Review", "The Daily News" 30/4/86)

May
USA - A report released on May 3 by Public Citizens Critical Mass Energy Project reveals more than 20,000 accidents and other mishaps have occurred at licensed US commercial nuclear power plants since the Three Mile Island Accident in 1979. Of these, more than 1,000 have been considered particularly significant by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Moreover, the nuclear industry's overall safety record is worsening.

In 1979 there were 2310 mishaps at the nation's nuclear power plants, including a partial meltdown at the Three Mile Island reactor near Harrisburg Pennsylvania. The number increased to 3,804 in 1980, rose to 4,060 in 1981 and in 1982 the total jumped to 4,500 mishaps. By 1983 the number of accidents and other events had risen to over 5,000 and 247 of these events were considered particularly significant by the NRC (almost one a day). An astounding 98,162 nuclear workers are exposed to radiation in 1984, a jump of 13,000 over 1983. ("Public Citizen")(WISE NC 252 16 May 1986).

May
USSR - According to the Nuclear Monitor 19 May 1986, NRC James Asselstine told a congressional hearing that contrary to the general perception the Chernobyl reactor did have two "containment-like" structures with a design pressure of 27 pounds per sq inch (psi). Ten US reactors reports the "Monitor" have containments with a design pressure of only 12 p.s.i. and 2 reactors have only 3/4" steel as containment. (WISE NC253 30 May 1986).

May
USA/EUROPE - Two US nuclear submarines went aground off Europe during the past month and one has been damaged so badly that it may have to be scrapped. ("The Age" 3/5/86)

May
USA - A recently-released secret report by the US General Accounting Office has revealed that since 1971 there have been 151 "significant nuclear safety accidents" in 14 different countries. ("The National Times. 9-15/5/86)

May 14
NEVADA, USA - Radiation in a tunnel containing test equipment at the Nevada underground nuclear test site is so high following a nuclear 'mishap' that monitors are registering about 25 rads per hour. 5 rads is considered a safe level over a year. ("The Age" 15/5/86, "The West Australian" 16/5/86)

May 18
UK - Two Greenpeace members have boarded a British ship carrying spent nuclear fuel in an attempt to highlight the ship's vulnerability to attack. ("The West Australian" 19/5/86)

May
LA HAGUE, FRANCE - Five workers at a French nuclear reprocessing plant at Le Hague in Normandy were exposed to radiation after an accident at the plant yesterday. ("The Age", "The West Australian" 22/5/86 )

May
SELLAFIELD, UK - In the fourth leak incident at the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant this year two workers were exposed to Plutonium oxide during routine maintenance. ("The Age", "The West Australian" 23/5/86). Over the past 34 years the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant has dumped a quarter of a tonne of Plutonium into the Irish Sea; the Irish Sea is consequently known as the most radio-active sea in the world, and Britain as the world's deliberate polluter. Radio-active house dust in the area is up to 6,000 times the level in other parts of the country and Plutonium levels in river estuaries are up to 27,000 times higher than other British rivers. ("National Times" 30/5 -5/6/86 )

June
LA SALLE 2, ILLINOIS, USA One of the worst nuclear accidents of 1986 occurred at La Salle-2 plant in Seneca, Illinois. The plant failed to shut down in response to a mechanical malfunction, a particularly dangerous situation. Commonwealth Edison, the nation's largest nuclear utility failed to alert Govt officials or the local population of the potential danger for more than 12 hours. (Public Citizen Critical Mass Energy Project, WISE NC 12 June 1987).

June 1
USA - Recently declassified Pentagon documents show that the US Navy accidentally released nuclear weapons during 1965, 1968, 1969 and 1970. The navy experienced 381 nuclear weapon accidents and incidents between 1965 and 1977. ("The Age" 2/6/86, "The Age" "The West Australian" 3/6/86 )

June 2
BONN, GERMANY - A West German nuclear power plant has been shut down pending an investigation into a brief radiation leak a month ago. ("The Age", "The Financial Review", "The West Australian" 3/6/86)

June
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND, UK - A fire at a Scottish nuclear power station complex has triggered an automatic reactor shutdown. ("The Daily News" 17/6/86, "The West Australian" 18/6/86)

August
USA - A US Army audit says that nuclear and chemical weapon sites have been guarded by men considered to be mentally ill, as well as others who were convicts, drug users and medically disabled. ("The West Australian" 11/8/86)

August 21
ARKANSAS, USA - The leak of a liquid fuel component used in Titan II missiles caused the evacuation of several families near an Arkansas town yesterday. ("The West Australian" 21/8/86)

August
SELLAFIELD, UK - The 'New Scientist' reported on August 14 that autopsies on the bodies of typical former workers at the Sellafield nuclear plant have revealed concentrations of Plutonium 100's and in one case 1,000's of times higher than the general public. The study by Doc. Popplewell from the U.K. National Radiological Protection Board also found that concentrations of Plutonium in the bodies of Cumbrians who did NOT work at the plant average 50-25%. higher than elsewhere in Britain. High levels of cancer have been found in the population around Sellafield. ("Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment", WISE NC257, 22 Aug 86)

August
PELINDABA, SOUTH AFRICA - Two people were killed and two were seriously injured in an accident at South Africa's top secret Pelindaba nuclear research facility near Pretoria. The workers were part of a cleaning team caught in a fire during routine work. It was reported that the accident did not involve radiation. ("Nucleonics Week" 14 Aug 86, WISE NC 260 3/10/86)

August
FERMI 2, USA - The American Fermi-2 reactor suffered an electrical fire in the distribution system to the flow valve. The reactor which was shut in July 1985 after an "inadvertent" criticality has not been in commercial operation since then. ("SCRAM Journal" WISE NC260 3/10/86)

August
CATTENOM 1 & 2, FRANCE - 8,000 litres of water initially thought to be from the primary coolant system flooded underground cellars at Units 1 and 2 of the Cattenom nuclear plant on August 23. The flooding, reportedly due to human error, left a valve open and is said to have destroyed electrical systems and pipelines. Later reports say it was not coolant water but a leak of river water. ("Nucleonics Week" 4,115 8/9/86, "Financial Times" 12/9/86, "The Scotsman" 12/9/86, WISE NC260 3/10/86).

August
JAPAN - Two women researchers received internal radiation at the Science and Technology Agency of Institute of Physical & Chemical Research in Japan when they breathed radioactive air while cleaning a room contaminated with radio-active equipment left there for more than a year. ("Japan Times" 19/9/86 WISE NC262 31/10/86)

August
NEW MEXICO, USA - The US Air Force admitted to an accident 30 years ago where an H-bomb was dropped from a bomber while landing in New Mexico. The conventional explosive component exploded but no-one was injured. ("The Australian" 29/8/86 )

September 23
USA - Radioactive debris in space is starting to become a real problem, according to a new study by Dr Nicholas Johnston, a US scientist. ("The West Australian" 24/9/86)

September 10
COLOMBO, SRI LANKA/ NETHERLANDS - Sri Lankan health authorities have destroyed 68 tonnes of imported Dutch milk that was found to be contaminated by nuclear radiation. ("The West Australian" 11/9/86)

September 11
SELLAFIELD, UK - The Sellafield nuclear plant in the U.K. continues to draw criticism for radio-active leaks. The latest cases are radio-active bubbles found in the ocean off the coast where the plant is situated. ("The West Australian" 12/9/86)

October 5
USSR, ATLANTIC - Three crewmen have died in a fire on board a Soviet nuclear submarine in the Atlantic about 1600 kilometres off the US coast. ("The West Australian", "The Australian" 6/10/86)

October 5
WASHINGTON, USA - Hundreds of US and Soviet crew members have died in nuclear powered submarine accidents since the first "U.S.S. Nautilus" was launched in 1954 in a list which has now been disclosed to the public. ("The West Australian" 6/10/86)

October 6
USSR, ATLANTIC - The Pentagon reported that the Soviet nuclear-powered submarine which had a fire on board yesterday and lost 3 crewmen, has sunk in the Atlantic today. The remaining 120 crew have been evacuated. ("The West Australian", "The Australian", "The Sydney Morning Herald" 7/10/86)

October 6
CANADA / USSR - In the winter of 1978, a nuclear powered Soviet spy satellite plunged out of the sky sprinkling radioactive debris across northern Canada. The Ottawa Government presented the Soviet Union with a cleaning up bill for about $__ million. Two years later the Soviet Union agreed to pay $__ million. However, in the wake of the Chernobyl accident and the larger scale of contamination it released, Moscow has refused any compensation to the West. ("The Sydney Morning Herald" 7/10/86)

October 12
SNAKE RIVER, USA - A truck carrying 16 tons of uranium pellets crashed into the Snake River in the western US when the driver swerved to avoid a slow moving farm combine. The uranium was being shipped from Ohio to Hanford Nuclear Reservation where it is made into fuel elements that go into the Hanford Nuclear reactor. ("The Washington Post" 14/10/86, WISE NC 262 31/11/86)

October
TMI, PA., USA - A full report on the 1979 partial melt-down of Three Mile Island Unit 2 Reactor was released in a highly "diluted" form, according to Jane Rickover, daughter-in-law of the late Admiral Hyman G. Rickover. Had the full report been released it would have destroyed the civilian nuclear industry because the accident was definitely more dangerous than was ever made public. (WISE News 31/10/86 NC 262)

October 15
ANGRA 1, BRAZIL - On the same day a Brazilian Federal Appeal Court approved restart of the Angra-1 reactor at Angra don Rein, the plant operator reported that a valve leak occurred in the plants primary cooling system. ("Nucleonics Week" Vol 24 23/10/86, "Veja" October 1986, "Folha de Sao Paulo" April 1986, WISE NC 263 21/11/86)

October
(CHERNOBYL) NETHERLANDS - Scientists working at the Nuclear Research Institute of the University of Croningen in the Netherlands have found Plutonium on the clothing of Dutch citizens who visited Russia. The researchers found Plutonium on jeans of a Dutch citizen who was in Kiev at the time of the accident and a splinter of a fuel rod from Chernobyl on the shoe of a child who visited Minsk and Smolenak. ("Nucleonics Week" 18L26/9/86, WISE NC 260 3/19/86)

October
(CHERNOBYL) SWEDEN and UK - According to the Swedish News In. 5/10/86, extremely high levels of radioactivity have been measured among farmers living in an area of Sweden badly contaminated by fallout from Chernobyl. Radioactive contamination of soil and vegetation following Chernobyl is proving more persistent than expected in the U.K.. ("New Scientist" 23/10/86, WISE NC 263 31/11/86

October
TIHANGE, BELGIUM - Several leaks occurred at the Tihange nuclear power plant on the Meuee River in Belgium early in October.

October 5
TIHANGE, BELGIUM - 30,000 litres of water leaked from the primary cooling system due to a faulty packing ring or gasket in a pump,

October 7
TIHANGE, BELGIUM - Radioactive gases were discharged through the stack,

October 10
TIHANGE, BELGIUM - 600 litres of contaminated water leaked due to a broken valve

October 20
TIHANGE, BELGIUM - A fire broke out in a container of radio-active waste. The cause:: a malfunctioned thermometer. (WISE NC 262, 31/10/86)

October
HOPE CREEK, NEW JERSEY, USA - A system to protect against the release of radioactivity in an accident at a nuclear power plant at Hope Creek was installed backwards. The error was discovered while the plant was operating at 20% testing power. ("Randleaf" 10/86, WISE NC 262 31/10/86)

October
THREE MILE ISLAND 2, PA, USA - Algae, yeasts, bacteria and mould are growing so fast in the core of the Three Mile Island Unit 2 reactor that they are hindering cleanup of the reactor, which suffered a partial meltdown in 1979. The reactor core is highly radioactive and the micro-organisms are estimated to be receiving doses of hundreds of rems per hour, more than enough to kill most life forms quickly. Radiation resistant bacteria are also seen as a serious problem in nuclear waste dumps. ("Volksskraut" 18/10/86, WISE NC 262 31/10/86)

October
HANFORD, WA., USA - Two military plutonium plants at the Hanford nuclear reservation in the State of Washington were shut-down in mid-October by the Dept. of Energy, due to safety violations. ("Nature" 16/10/86, WISE NC 262 31/11/86)

October
USA - The General Accounting Office (GAO) report has found potentially dangerous soil and ground water levels of solvents, nitrates, chloride, Tritium, Strontium, Cadmium, Selenium, Mercury, Iodine, Arsenic, and Chromium at 8 of 9 US Dept. of Energy facilities which it investigated. ("Nucleonics Week" 2/10/86, WISE NC 262 31/10/86)

November
SAVANNAH RIVER, SC., USA - According to an Environmental Policy Institute (EPI) study, highly radio-active and toxic wastes are polluting soil and water at a nuclear fuel plant in South Carolina. The study based on US Dept of Energy examined the Savannah River plant tank farm, where radio-active wastes from more than 30 years of nuclear bomb production are stored. "Routine discharges of radio-active wastes into the soil as well as leaks and other accidents have severely contaminated the soil and shallow aquifers on the site. This poses a threat to the Tuscaloosa aquifer, which is the region's most important source of underground water supply. (EPI "International Herald Tribune" 10/86 "Wall Street Journal" 24/7/86, WISE NC 263 21/11/86)

November 
(CHERNOBYL) UKRAINE, USSR - Radionuclides in the food chain are also causing ornithologists concern. There are fears that the wetlands of the Ukraine are a likely feeding ground for many migratory birds. Radioactive isotopes concentrated in the bird's tissues could be passed-on to people who eat the birds in other areas. ("Discover" 11/86, WISE NC 263, 21/11/86

November
HINKLEY POINT, SOMERSET, UK - Corrosion problems found during a regular shutdown of one of the Magnox reactors at Hinkley Point, Somerset have called into question whether the Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB) should continue with its policy of extending the lifetime of these old reactors from 25-30 years. The corrosion problem was, until recently thought to be "impossible". ("Times" 6/11/86-7/11/86, WISE NC 263 21/11/86)

November 28
SELLAFIELD, UK - An investigation was launched on how 230,000 litres of low-level radio-active waste were accidentally discharged into the Irish Sea from the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant. ("The Age" 29/11/86)

November
OKLAHOMA, USA - The Oklahoma State Dept of Agriculture has now licensed the use of treated "nuclear waste" called raffinate as fertilizer. Opposition is mounting for a public hearing and a write in campaign to have the license rescinded. (WISE NC263 21/11/86)

November
PALUEL 3, FRANCE - An employee of the French Energy Agency Electricite de France (EDF) and 5 employees of a sub-contracted firm were contaminated at 'unknown' rates during work on Sect 3 of the Paluel power Station in Seine Maritime. The accident "is the most serious" since commissioning in 1984 according to a trade union source. The employees were overhauling pipes and fittings when they inhaled airborne radio-active particles for several hours. (WISE-Paris Bulletin 30 Nov/15 Dec 86)

December 
(CHERNOBYL) NORWAY - The damage caused by Caesium fallout from Chernobyl is proving more serious than expected in many countries. In Norway, massive contamination in reindeer has caused the Norwegian authorities to raise the acceptable levels of radio-activity for consumption to 10 times their original value. Source: Maria Rault, Eindhoven. (WISE NC 265 p.2/3 19/12/86)

December
SURREY 2, RICHMOND, VA., USA - 4 workers died and 2 others were severely burnt at the Surrey-2 plant when they were sprayed with scalding water from a burst pipe. ("Public Citizen Critical Mass Energy Project", WISE NC 275 12/6/87)

December 3
EDWIN 1 HATCH, GEORGIA, USA - The Edwin 1 Hatch nuclear power plant near Baxley, Georgia has experienced what has been described as the worst accident at a temporary facility for high level radio-active waste in US commercial nuclear power history. Approx. 141,000 gallons of radio-active water leaked out of storage pools, containing spent fuel rods from the plant (levels of radio-activity are several times higher in the Hatch fuel pool than is in the plant itself). An estimated 84,000 gallons passed through storm drains into the wetlands area located on plant property. Following the accident Georgia power issued a press statement claiming that only 5,000 gallons of water had leaked and assured the public that the accident posed no health threat. ("Public Citizen" Dec 1986, WISE NC 266 16 Jan 87)

December 5
SCARABEE, FRANCE - One of the four control rods at the Scarabee reactor at the Nuclear Research Centre in Cadarache, France, jammed in a raised position and failed to drop when ordered to do so. The incident was considered "significant for safety" by the Service Central de Surete den Installations Nuclesires. (WISE, Paris)

December 17
TMI, PA., USA - A clean-up worker at Three Mile Island nuclear plant was injured and contaminated by radiation yesterday after being hit by lead shielding in the reactor containment building. ("The West Australian" 18/12/86)

December
OHIO, USA - Uranium and toxic chemicals seeping through waste pits at Feed Materials Production Centre in Fernald, Ohio USA, which makes uranium products for nuclear warheads, have contaminated the Great Miami Aquifer, the main source of water for residents of SE Ohio. ("Northern Sun News" 10/86, WISE NC 264 5/10/86)

(CHERNOBYL) WORLD - The arrival in the Phillipines and other countries of milk products from Western Europe with higher than the permitted radioactive levels has been reported. In Singapore (which has probably the most efficient system of testing and control) rejected no less than 240 consignments from Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Ireland and France. Sri Lanka banned the sale of many varieties of jam imported from Poland, Bulgaria and Holland. Argentina scrapped plans to import chickens from Hungary and certain canned goods from West Germany and Scandinavian countries. ("Nucleonics week" 30/10/86, WISE NC 264, 5/12/86)

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