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Accidents 1980's

1987

January
BOHUMICE 3, CZECHOSLOVAKIA - Cracks were detected in the collector wall of Bohumice 3 six steam generators causing the plant to shut down for 2 months for repairs. ("Nucleonics Week" 4/6/87, "WISE" NC 278 14/8/87 )

January
IRISH SEA, WALES, UK - The level of Americium-241 arising in the Irish Sea is increasing and in 70-100 years the amount will be greater than the amount pumped directly into the sea in the mid 1970s (when discharges were at their highest). This is because Am-241 is a decay product of Plutonium-241. Am-21 is known to be 57 times more toxic than Plutonium-241. Now traces

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of Am-241 have been found in Trawafynydd Lake beside Trawafynydd nuclear power Station in Wales. ("Welsh Anti Nuclear Alliance Newsletter" Winter 86/98, "Core Waste Paper" Jan 87, WISE NC 270 13/3/87

January 9
(CHERNOBYL) JAPAN - Japan has turned back 3 consignments of food from Europe because they were contaminated by radio-activity from Chernobyl. 1 consignment was carrying hazelnuts from Turkey 1 consignment was carrying reindeer from Sweden 1 consignment was carrying spices from Turkey. (Sources: Diet Simon, "Japan Times" 10/1-14/2/87, WISE NC 270 13 Mar 87 p.9-10)

January 11
UK - A 20-tonne lorry believed to be carrying nuclear weapons slid off an icy country road and overturned near the top-secret Royal Navy armament depot at Dean Hill, Wiltshire, yesterday. Police and troops surrounded the area and details of the accident, including the lorry's load, are being kept secret by the British Government. ("The Daily News" 12/1/87, "The Age" 13/1/87)

January 25
HONG KONG - The principle of Jesuit Wah Yen College in Wan Chai district, central urban Hong Kong, says that he is angry that a nuclear waste dump site has existed under the school for more than 2 decades without public knowledge. Jesuit Father Marciano Saptiata was informed of the waste site by the Friends of the Earth, Hong Kong. (FOE, Hong Kong, WISE NC 271 27/3/87 )

January
SELLAFIELD, UK - Twelve workers at the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant in Cumbria have been affected by a leak of radioactivity, according to British Nuclear Fuels. ("The Daily News" 21/1/87)

January 25
SAINT LAURENT, FRANCE - Another incident has been reported at the Saint Laurent plant in France. On January 25th, nearly 300,000 customers experienced a power cut of nearly an hour, following a fire in a transformer. The plant had to be shut down on January 12 because of ice. ("FT European Energy Report", WISE NC 270 13 Mar 87 p.10)

February
(CHERNOBYL) EGYPTIAN WATERS - An Egyptian frigate escorted 2 cargo ships out of Alexandria after they were found to be carrying radioactive contaminated food from Chernobyl. 1 ship was carrying herbs from Lebanon 1 ship was carrying ground nuts from Turkey. (Sources: Diet Simon, "Japan Times" 10/1-14/2/87, WISE NC 270 13 Mar 87 p.9-10)

February 3
(CHERNOBYL) GERMANY - West German anti-nuclear activists broke into train cars filled with radio-active powdered milk, throwing milk filled sacks into the snow. The activists wanted to make sure the milk which W. German environmental minister Wallman said still had "commercial value", would not be used. The milk powder came from Bavaria where shortly after Chernobyl milk producers were ordered to turn their milk into powder and were compensated for their loses. ("WISE" NC 268 - 13/2/87)

February
TRICASTIN 4, FRANCE - The management of Unit 4 of Electricite de Frances (EDF) Tricantin nuclear power station failed to notify either EDF central management or French nuclear regulatory authorities of a crack detected on auxiliary piping in the safety injection circuits. ("Nucleonics week" 2 Apr 87, WISE NC 276 3 Jul 87)

February
CIEMAT, MADRID, SPAIN - It was revealed recently that some 132 metric tons of nuclear waste are being stored in central Madrid, Spain, in the heart of the university area surrounded by densely populated neighbourhoods. The waste came from an experimental reactor and reprocessing facility for Spain's Centre for Energy, Environment a Technology Research (CIEMAT) formerly Junta de Energia Nuclear (JEN). Despite claims by CIEMAT's director that "no contamination would find its way beyond the centre's installations", 2 accidents have been attributed to JEN, one in 1970 when 300 litres of liquids contaminated with Strontium 90 and Caesium 137 found their way into the Manzanares, Jarama and Tajo Rivers, and in 1984 when 450 litres of less contaminated water were spilled into the city sewers. (WISE NC 271 March 1987)

March 24
  IDAHO, USA - A train hauling nuclear waste from the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant to a Federal repository in Idaho collided with a car. ("Three Mile Is. Alert Updates" Mar/May 87, WISE NC 278 14/8/87)

March
HARTLEPOOLE, UK - A boiler tube leak at one of the twin Hartlepool advanced gas cooled reactors (AGRs) in the U.K. allowed about 8 metric tone of water to escape into the carbon dioxide coolant. ("Nucleonics Weeks" 2 Apr 87, WISE NC 276 3 Jul 87)

March 8
LUCAS HEIGHTS, AUSTRALIA - Fire destroyed an Australian laboratory cell used for processing isotopes. Nearby fire brigades scrambled to the Lucas Heights reactor and nuclear complex, but were kept away from the cell by reactor staff. Iodine, Krypton and Xenon were released uncontrollably after the fire. (WISE NC 271 March 1987)

March 2
USA - Pentagon officials, who requested anonymity, said that one of the US Navy's nuclear powered attack submarines incurred damage estimated at more than $4 million last November in what was probably a collision with a Soviet submarine. ("The West Australian" 3/3/87)

March 18
LUCAS HEIGHTS, AUSTRALIA - Radioactive material was released during a fire at the Atomic Energy Commission's Lucas Heights research laboratory in Sydney's south, a Federal Government spokesman for the Minister for Resources and Energy, Senator Evans, said tonight. ("The West Australian" 19/3/87) A report from an inquiry into the fire at the Atomic Energy Commission's Lucas Heights research laboratory in Sydney last week has criticized the commission for a poor public-information system which led to public alarm about a "Chernobyl-like" incident. No one, including staff at the site, suffered or would suffer adverse health effects from radioactive material released in the accident, the inquiry found. ("The West Australian" 27/3/87 )

March 
NUKEM, WEST GERMANY - At least eight employees at the fuel element plant Nukem, in Hanau, West Germany have been contaminated with plutonium above the allowed yearly dose. Nukem processes uranium for the manufacture of fuel rods for reactors but a batch of uranium sent from Nuclear Research Centre in Karlruhe to the Hanau plant was contaminated with Plutonium. (WISE NC 272 -3/1987)

March 8
SUPERPHENIX, CREYSMELVILLE, FRANCE - Sodium leaked from a cooling tank at the Superphenix fast breeder reactor in Creys-Malville and engineers have been unable to trace the source of the leak. Sodium is used to cool the fuel rods and is inflammable on contact with air and explosive in contact with water. ("La Monde" 11/4/87, "Guardian" 13/4/87 - WISE April 1987)

April
(CHERNOBYL) UK - Western containments are not so radically different from that at Chernobyl, an I.A.E.A. safety division official told the International Conference on Nuclear Containment. ("Nucleonics Week" 23/4/87, WISE NC 276 3 Jul 87)

April 
FRANCE - Seven un-named reactors experienced "SCRAM" failures. "SCRAM" is the sudden insertion of the control rods into the reactor core to stop the fission reaction in case of an emergency,. ("Der Spiegel" 20/4/87, WISE NC275 12/6/87)

April
HANAU, GERMANY - Uranium hexafluoride leaked into the control room of the Reaktor Brennelement Union fuel fabrication plant in Hanau in April. 23 workers were tested for contamination and the government has temporarily closed the affected part of the plant. (SCRAM Journal - WISE NC 279, 18/9/87)

May 7
USA - A freight train carrying 192 pounds of low-level radioactive materials, derailed in the Columbia Gorge in the northwestern US. ("NW Alert" WISE NC 277/24 July 1987)

May 12
GORLEBEN, GERMANY - There was a serious accident in the high level waste repository under construction in Gorleben. 6 workers were injured by a falling support as the shaft collapsed. One of the workers later died. ("TAZ" May 20/21, WISE NC 275 12/6/87)

May 12
HUNTERSTON AGR B1, UK - Following refuelling a mechanical problem in a fuel channel gas unit caused the gas outlet temperature of the AGR reactor B1 in Hunterston to rise above normal operating limits. The normal temperature of the carbon dioxide coolant leaving the fuel channels is 648 degrees. During the incident, the temperature reached 710 degrees for two minutes. Sudden changes in core temperature can lead to an "asymmetric reactivity fault" -a potential precursor to an AGR core meltdown. (SCRAM Journal July/August 1987 - WISE NV 279 18/9/87 )

May 21
USA - An unexploded Exocet missile warhead was found on the damaged U.S.S. Stark and was disarmed and removed, the Pentagon said yesterday. ("The West Australian" 22/5/87)

May 29
HEYSHAM 1, UK - Radioactive oil was emitted from HEYSHAM 1 AGR during a cleaning operation. (SCRAM Journal July/August 1987 - WISE NC 279 18/9/87)

May
BROKDORF, GERMANY - The 1350 mw PER in BROKDORF, was shut down on May Day because of a generator leak. (SCRAM Journal, July/Aug 1987 - WISE NC 279, 18/9/87)

May 
FORSMARK, SWEDEN - Oil washed ashore from a ship wrecked last year threatened the safety of the reactors in BROKDORF, Sweden in early May. (SCRAM Journal, July/Aug 1987 - WISE NC 279, 10/9/87)

May
PALISADES, MICHIGAN, USA - A series of equipment malfunctions forced the Palisades plant to shut down; the NRC found a backlog of 3,000 required repairs that were not completed. ("Public Citizens Critical Mass Energy Project", WISE NC 275 12/6/87)

June
PETTEN, HOLLAND - Overheating of the cooling water at the European Commission's nuclear reactor at Petten in Holland caused a radioactive leak in May. (SCRAM Journal, July/Aug 1987 - WISE NC 279, 10/9/87)

June 3
NUKEN HANAU, GERMANY - The New Conservative Environment Minister in the German State of Hesse, Farlheinz Neiman, has found serious safety problems at the Nuken Plutonium processing plant in Hanau. (Diet Simon, Cologne, WISE NC 276 3 Jul 87)

June
WNP 2, USA - Electrical problems caused WNP-2 nuclear plant to scram five times within 10 days after its June 22nd restart from its annual refuelling and maintenance outage. ("Nucleonics Week" 16 July 1987, WISE NC 279, 18/9/87)

June 8
BERKELEY, UK - A fire in the turbine hall of the Berkeley reactor in Britain closed the reactor. (SCRAM Journal July/Aug 1987 - WISE NC 279, 10/9/87)

June 14
LA HAGUE, FRANCE - Six storage halls of the nuclear reprocessing plant at La Hague on the French Channel coast were contaminated by radioactive steam due to a ventilation system break down. There was reportedly no one in the halls at the time of the mishap, which management said was only noticed a day later and publicly disclosed 3 days later. (Diet Simon, Cologne. WISE/NC276 3/7/1987 )

June 16
NORTH ANNA 1, USA - Tubing inside a steam generator of North Anna's Unit 1 in the US ruptured releasing small amounts of radioactivity into the atmosphere and forcing a shutdown of the reactor. ("The Washington Post" 18/7/87, WISE NC 278 14/8/87)

June 17
ORPHEE, FRANCE - Radioactive water leaked for at least a week in early June from the 'Orphee' experimental reactor of the French Atomic Energy Commissariat (CEA) at Saclay near Paris. A CEA spokesperson said on June 17 that around two cubic centimetres per hour were continuing to drip from a leak which was almost plugged. He said the leak was initially 150 cubic centimetres an hour. (Diet Simon, Cologne, WISE/NC276, 3 July 1987)

June 24
DUNGENESS, UK - A container of irradiated fuel was derailed in a siding while leaving Dungeness A. (SCRAM Journal July/Aug 1987 - WISE NC 279, 10/9/87)

June 26
ANGRA 1, BRAZIL - Brazil's only nuclear power plant was off line again from June 26 to August 6. Angra I had been in production since April 3, after being down for most of previous 4 months. The reason for the present shut-down is a leakage of radioactive water from a valve in the primary System. Brazil's Minister of Energy and Mining, Aurelio Chavea, will negotiate with Westinghouse, supplier of Angra I, about the $6 million production losses caused by the defects of the plant. ("O Globo" newspaper 1 July 1987 - WISE NC 279, 18 September 1987)

June
TENNESSEE, USA - A truck carrying 14 Westinghouse fuel assemblies overturned approximately 10 miles west of Knoxville, Tennessee. ("Nucleonics Week" 25 June 1987, WISE NC 279 18/9/87)

June
(CHERNOBYL) GERMANY - The W. German Institute for Human Genetics detected a significant increase in Downs Syndrome in children born in Jan 87 in W. Berlin. Direct association with Chernobyl is suspected, since it is exactly 9 months from April 86 to Jan 87. (WISE NC 12/6/1987 p.50)

June
USA - More than 23,000 mishaps have occurred at US commercial reactor power plants since the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, according to Public Citizen.

1979 - 2,310 accidents 
1980 - 3,804 accidents 
1981 - 4,060 accidents 
1982 - 4,500 accidents 
1983 - 5,000 accidents 
1984 - 2,417 accidents 
1985 - 2,974 accidents 
1986 - 3,000 accidents.

(Public Citizen Critical Mass Energy Project WISE NC 275 June 87)

June 
(CHERNOBYL) SWEDEN - Swedish scientists from the University of UMEA in collaboration with the Swedish military are studying the health effects of radio-active Caesium ingestion using Samia who are eating meat contaminated by the Chernobyl fallout. (WISE NC 277 24/7/87)

July
SELLAFIELD, CUMBRIA, UK - There was a dramatic increase in deaths from leukaemia in 1986 in West Cumbria now well known because of Sellafield. ("Whitehaven News" 9/Jul 87, WISE NC 277 24/7/87)

July 
USA - A paper published in the July 1986 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, by Theodore Puck of the University of Colorado and the Eleanor Roosevelt Institute for Cancer Research, concludes that the true mutagenic efficiency of LOW DOSES of ionizing radiation in the approx. range of human exposure is more than 200 times GREATER than assumed by linear dose extrapolation. The actual curve exhibits a downward concavity so that the mutational efficiency is maximal at LOW doses". ("Radiation Events Monitor" WISE NC 276, 3 Jul 87)

July
USA - Engineers from the US General Electric Co (GE) recommended that the company stop selling its nuclear reactors because of safety shortcomings in the design. This was reported in a document which was allegedly kept from the public following a secret agreement between GE and the NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission). One of the Journalists who brought this information to light has since been "assigned to other duties". ("The Nuclear Monitor" 15 Jun 87, WISE NC 276, 3 Jul 87)

July 20
FERMI 2, USA - Fermi-2 scrammed automatically due to high turbine vibration readings. ("Nucleonics Week", 23/ 7/87, WISE NC 279, 18/9/87)

July
MAGNOX ANGLESEY, UK - One of the Magnox reactors at Wylfa in Anglesey has been shut down for three months because of a failure in the fuel loading machine. (SCRAM Journal July/Aug 1987, WISE NC 18/9/87)

July
NORTH ANNA, USA - Leak of radioactive water has forced the shutdown of a reactor at the North Anna nuclear power plant in Virginia. ("The West Australian" 17/7/87)

July
KORI 1 & KNU 1, SOUTH KOREA - Kori-1 was in a forced outage in July for 36 hours due to a typhoon that defaulted the turbine generator. KNU-7 was also shut down for 248 hours during the same month due to high level in steam generator and excessive cooling hydrogen in the main generator. (WISE NC 279 18 September 1987)

July
HUNTERSTON 1, UK - A fuel leak was discovered in reactor 1 of the Hunteraton A Magnox station on 9 July. The tiny hole was apparently caused by a "random defect" and the fuel will now treated as normal. (SCRAM Journal Sept/Oct 1987, WISE NC 279, 18/9/87)

July
CALVERT CLIFFS 1 & 2, BYRON 1, DRESDEN 2 & 3, USA - Forced outages in US reactors include:

a.Calvert Cliffs-1 - which was shut down for 20.6 hours due to inadvertent boration cause by initial overcooking of the steam generator through a failed high pressure feedwater heater isolation valve and failure of boric acid pump.

b. Calvert Cliffs-2 - one of four outages was due to exceed reactor coolant system leakage from regenerative heat exchanger drain valves. Byron-1 was forced to shut down for 46 hours after being struck by lightening.

c. Dresden-2 and -3 - were forced down due to feedwater regulator valve problems. (SCRAM Journal - WISE NC 279, 18/9/87)

August
TRAWSFYNYDD, UK - Two recent accidents at the Trawsfynydd Magnox Station have fuelled criticism of the CEGB's "open information policy". The first occurred on 1 August when 100 gallons of liquid waste spilled from a pipe carrying it to a storage tank. Local ME, Daffyd Ellis Thomas, has complained that he was not informed of the accident until 5 days later. On 10 August an explosion in the turbine hall put two gas circulators in one of the reactors out of action. The CEGB originally denied that there had been an explosion, although they later confirmed that the blast had blown a door off its hinges and caused 20,000 pounds worth of damage. (SCRAM Journal Sept/Oct 1987, WISE NC 279, 18/9/87)

August
SELLAFIELD, UK - An accident halted reprocessing less than one week after it had restarted following a three month break. (SCRAM Journal Sept/Oct 1987, WISE NC 279, 18/9/87)

August 22
USA - The United States Navy has ordered Pacific Commanders to 'remove evidence' in case of a nuclear weapons accident aboard and treat it as one involving conventional explosives, it was revealed in a document obtained by a private research organization. ("The Australian" 24/8/87)

August
UK - A contaminated railway wagon in the U.K. travelled from Sellafield to HEYSHAM where it stood for four months before radioactive rust fell onto the tracks and was detected during a "routine check" in August. A confidential CEGB report, revealed in the "Guardian" (27/8/87) says that 108 of all flasks and flatrols used to carry them are contaminated. (SCRAM Journal (Scotland) Nov/Dec 1987, WISE NC 283, 20/11/87)

August
BERKELEY, UK - Two workers received contamination to their skin during maintenance work on the secondary shielding at Berkeley reactor. (SCRAM Journal (Scotland) Nov/Dec 1987, WISE NC 283, 20/11/87)

August
SELLAFIELD, UK - Two workers were contaminated by radiation from a vacuum cleaner. (SCRAM Journal, Nov/Dec 1987, WISE NC 283, 20/11/87)

August 15
HUNTERSTON, UK - Approximately two tonnes of "mildly radioactive" Carbon Dioxide leaked from the gas treatment plant. (SCRAM Journal, Nov/Dec 1987, WISE NC 283, 20/11/87)

September 4
SELLAFIELD, UK - Workers at Sellafield took 80 minutes to find a leak of radioactive Carbon Dioxide. The incident led to contamination of an area near the Calder Hall reactor. (SCRAM Journal, Nov/Dec 1987, WISE NC 283 20/11/87)

September
HARWELL, UK - A spillage of radioactive material at the U.K. Atomic Energy Agency's (UKAEA) Harwell Laboratory led to the intake of Plutonium-238 by a research scientist who was working at a glove box in the main radiochemistry building. ("Atom 371" - WISE NC 279 18/9/87)

September
EMBALSE & ATUCHA 1, ARGENTINA - Argentina's active power stations, Embalse and Atucha I, were taken out of production. According to CNRA president Ferreira, Embalse faced technical 'malfunctions' - leading to a leak of heavy water into the area surround the plant - while Atucha I had to be submitted to maintenance and revision. The fact that Atucha I will not come on line again before October indicates that the maintenance and revision are not just routine. ("Clarin" 1 September 1987 - WISE/279 18 September 1987)

October 1
JAPAN - A 357 mw PER in Japan shut down automatically in what Japanese nuclear activists describe as a Chernobyl-like event. ("Nuke Info Tokyo" Dec 1987)

October 3
FORT ST. VRAINS, USA - A 20 minute early morning oil fire in Fort St. Vrain's turbine building caused 'definite substantial damage' to several components at the plant. The fire burnt some cables, causing one entire circulation loop to trip, forcing operators to manually trip the reactor. ("Nucleonics Week" 15 act 1987, WISE NC 283, 20/11/87)

October
CANADA - Radioactive contamination of dirt and asphalt in a parking lot in northeast Calgary, was discovered by the Canadian Atomic Energy Control Board. A spokesman said the contamination poses no health hazard "because it is in a parking lot". ("Toronto Star" (Canada) 7 act 1987)

October
OYSTER CREEK, USA - The US NRC shut down the Oyster Creek nuclear plant after discovering plant operators had disabled key safety valves during a test, and then destroyed the records of the violation in a coverup. ("Not Man Apart" (US) Sept-Oct 1987)

October
CANADA - An environment ministry official in Canada says the town of Port Hope, Ontario is "walking a tight rope" as sewage treatment plant officials wait for a place to dump uranium-tainted sludge. The contamination is due to uranium that has leaked from the Altered Resources Ltd refinery. The untreated sewage is in danger of flowing over a weir toward Lake Ontario. The uranium was discovered in the sewers 2 years ago, and has built up to more than 75,000 cubic feet since then. ("The Star" (Ontario) 7 October 1987)

October
HEYSHAM 2, UK - Reactor 2 was scrammed because of a fault on the main electrical system. (SCRAM Journal Nov/Dec 1987, WISE NC 28320/11/87)

October
DUNGENESS, UK - The Dungeness Magnox reactors in the U.K. had to be closed down during storm on 16 October not, as has been widely reported, because of grid failures, but because the system frequency was increasing, causing the generators to run too fast (SCRAM Nov/Dec 1987, WISE NC 283 20/11/87)

October
DOUNREAY, UK - The Prototype Fast Reactor at Dounreay had to reduce power in early October because seaweed had entered the cooling water pump house. It had passed through a special 2 million pound (U.K.) seaweed barrier, built only last year. (SCRAM Journal (Scotland) Nov/Dec 1987, WISE 283, 20/11/87)

October
BRAZIL - At least 243 people in the central Brazilian town of Goiania have been contaminated with Caesium-137. 40 people are in hospital, many are critically ill and are not expected to survive. The accident involves approx. 100g Caesium-137. The Caesium in powder form was inside a box discovered by local residents inside a lead box in the ruins of a former radiation institute. The Caesium, which apparently fascinated local people because of its luminosity, was then spread around the area through various means. (WISE NC 281, 6/11/87)

October
NEW ZEALAND - Residents of Otahuhu, New Zealand and two dozen steel workers were evacuated around midnight on 10 October after electricians at the Pacific Steel Plant noticed that molten steel had spilled onto a canister containing radioactive Caesium-137. (RWC Waste Paper (US) Winter 1987/1988)

November
BROWNS FERRY, AL., USA - A fire of unknown origin is being viewed as a pretty big deal by the NRC. The plant has been shut down since Sept 1984, first for refuelling and then because of safety concerns. ("Nucleonics Week" 12/11/1987)

November
PILGRIM, MASS., USA - In 2 separate "incidents", 5 plant workers at the Pilgrim nuclear power plant were contaminated. In a third accident, a valve on a chemical waste pump leaked, contaminating an area of the plant. All three accidents occurred within a 48-hour period. ("Nucleonics Week" (US) 12/11/ 1987)

November 
FRANCE - After a 3 year shutdown, Electricite de France is going to bring the 22 year old 360 ME graphite Chinon A3 graphite nuclear plant back into production. The plans are being carried out despite criticism that the plant is of similar technology to that of Chernobyl and is being brought back at a time when EdF already has too much electricity capacity. ("Power Europe" (London) 12 Nov 1987)

November
SELLAFIELD, UK - A leak was discovered from a pipe connected to a pump located in the interspace between the primary and secondary walls of the storage silos which occurred during the removal of the pump and pipe for maintenance. Modifications are now in progress to replace pump and flexible pipe with a permanent rigid pipe work and pump System at the Sellafield Nuclear reprocessing plant. (Atom (U.K.) Sept 88, WISE NC 299 7/10/88)

November
GERMANY - 334 "incidents" at 19 operating West German nuclear plants were recorded by nuclear reactor operators for 1986. ("Nucleonics week" 12/11/1987)

November
HANFORD, USA - Safety violations and worker exposures have been revealed at the US Government's nuclear weapons reactors in a draft Congressional memorandum obtained by the New York Post. One of its findings is that workers at the 'N' reactor, at Hanford in Washington State, were deliberately exposed to maximum allowable radiation doses. Also at Hanford, radiation alarms were turned off in a high level waste store because they were being set off by high winds. (SCRAM Journal Nov/Dec 1987, WISE NC 283, 20/11/87)

December 4
CHERNOBYL, UKRAINE, USSR - It was reported in a Soviet newspaper on 4 December that there have been more fatal accidents at the Chernobyl nuclear power station since the April 1986 disaster. According to the report, sloppiness and inadequate supervision over the last 10 months have led to 36 accidents, of which three resulted in deaths. It is not known how many people died or what the causes of death were, but it was hinted that some of the accidents involved radiation and incorrect handling of radioactive fuel. The report stated that the feeling of responsibility of the power station staff is low. Apparently disciplinary measures have been taken against certain officials. ("Volkskrant", 5 Dec 1987, WISE NC 284, 14/12/87)

December
NEW MEXICO, USA - On December 16, a team of scientists and policy specialists from the University of New Mexico revealed that they had discovered water leaks at the U.S. Dept of Energy's Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad, New Mexico. Documents obtained from the US Dept of Energy showed that when one of the ventilation shafts was drilled, for the 1250 foot deep WIPP, an aquifer was pierced. ("Guardian" (US) 30/12/87, WISE 285, P8-9, Nov 87).

December
JAPAN - The Fukui Prefectural Government in Japan ordered the Kansai Electric Power Co. to immediately shut down two of its pressurized light-water reactors. The order was issued because two other reactors of the same design and operated by the name company had experienced trouble with metal parts of devices attached to the steam generators. The parts fell off. ("The Japan Times" 25 - 26 Dec 1987)

December 14
EUROPE - The Council of Ministers of the European Community (EC) decided on a new permanent system of radiation limits for radioactive contaminated foods. These new radiation limits will be twice and three times as high as the limits which were valid until now. (WISE NC 286, 29/1/88)

December
EMBALSE, ARGENTINA - Commission Nacional de Energia (CNEA) has confirmed that its 600-mw Embalse nuclear station is leaking heavy water into the Rio Tercero Reservoir in Argentina's Cordoba Province. ("Nucleonics Week" (US) 17 December 1987.)

December 3`
HANFORD, USA - A truck hauling low-level radioactive waste overturned near the Hanford Nuclear Reservation spilling some of its' Load. One of six containers on the truck carrying about 41,000 pounds of waste broke open, spilling its contents. ("Chicago Tribune" 1 Jan 1988)

December
DOUNREAY, SCOTLAND UK - A worker at the Dounreay PFR (prototype fast reactor) reprocessing plant received a "significant" dose of radiation to his hand in an accident on 9 December. Although the contaminated worker was wearing full protective clothing and was not directly contaminated, the radiation dose which penetrated his glove was in excess of the safety limit. ("SCRAM Journal" (Scotland) March/April 1988)

December 1987 - January 1988
BYRON, IL., USA - Towards the end of 1987 it was discovered that a number of security guards at Commonwealth Edison's Byron nuclear plant in Illinois had become contaminated by merely walking through the plant. A subsequent investigation by the utility found that daughter products of radon were attracted to the guard's polyester uniforms. ("Groundswell" (US) Autumn 1987)(i)

1987
USA

US commercial nuclear reactors reported nearly 3,000 "mishaps" and at least 430 emergency shutdowns in 1987 according to "Public Citizen's" a latest Annual Nuclear Power Safety Report. According to US Nuclear Regulatory Commiasion (NRC) in records compiled by the organization, at least 493 violations of safety regulations occurred at the plants during that year. Further, in 1987, accidents, near-accidents, emergency shutdowns, and instances of lax management occurred daily at the 109 licensed-to-operate nuclear reactors located in 37 states across the country.

The report notes that much of the data which the NRC chooses to make public represents only the "tip of the iceberg". The NRC, for instance, refuses to release key safety data such as "single-component failure" records and a comprehensive listing of all emergency plant shutdowns. In addition, the agency's safety regulations by nuclear utilities are incomplete and contradictory. The NRC also apparently lacks current information on such basic safety matters as plant-by-plant evacuation time estimates and the agency claims that it has been unable to access its own data base on individual plant mishaps for several months and has failed to obtain detailed records on the number of accidents at each reactor.

Among the findings of the Public Citizen study:

** There were at least 2,940 mishaps at US commercial reactors in 1987. These so called "mishaps" are Licensee Event Reports made to the NRC by the nuclear utilities themselves; according to NRC guidelines, they provide descriptions of "potentially significant safety events" that "might lead to serious accidents". The figure represents an average of 27 mishaps at each reactor (a number unchanged from the previous year). Personnel error was involved in 2,197 (74%) of them. Many other mishaps, including some of the most serious accidents of 1987, were apparently not reported.

** Sixteen reactors experienced over 40 mishaps each.

The NRC reported 430 "scrams" (emergency plant shutdowns) - an average of 4.4 per operating reactor. Newer reactors averaged 11 scrams each during 1987. However, these figures may understate the actual number by 25-45%. The operating plants given the lowest overall management ratings by the NRC during 1987 were allowed to continue operating even though they were given poorer ratings than the Peach Bottom reactors 2 and 3 in Pennsylvania, which the NRC ordered closed in March 1987 for assorted management lapses including workers sleeping on the job.

Almost 14,500 metric tons of highly radioactive spent fuel is now stored at over 60 nuclear plant sites in large pools of water. Originally designed as temporary storage facilities, these fuel pools are experiencing a number of serious leaks and pose the risk of a major accident.

** Dozens of other mishaps occurred at nuclear plant sites in 1987. These included acts of vandalism and sabotage, unauthorized possession of firearms on plant sites, and a three-fold increase in the number of reported instances of drug use among nuclear workers. ("Public Citizens Critical Mass Energy Project"; WISE-307 24/1/89).

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