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Accidents 1980's

The 1980s began with the failure of a 46-cent computer chip causing the NORAD headquarters to mistakenly believe that they were under attack by Soviet missiles. Some 100 U.S. B-52s were readied for take-off before the mistake was discovered. On July 25, 1980, President Carter signed Presidential Directive 59, which called for flexible, controlled retaliation against political and military targets in the event of a "prolonged" nuclear war. When Carter left office the following January, he said in his Farewell Address that "in an all-out nuclear war, more destructive power than in all of World War II would be unleashed every second during the long afternoon it would take for all of the missiles and bombs to fall." The United Nations held its second Special Session on Disarmament in June 1982. One million people gathered in New York in the largest peace demonstration in history.Cold War rhetoric intensified in the early years of the Reagan Administration. President Reagan called the Soviet Union an "evil empire" in March 1983. Two weeks later, on March 23, he announced plans to proceed with a space-based missile defense

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which became known as " Star Wars." Despite heavy criticism, Reagan pushed ahead with research and development of the multi-billion dollar project. In September 1985 Mordechai Vanunu , a technician at Israel's Dimona nuclear installation, released information about Israel's nuclear weapons program. Based on his evidence, experts concluded that Israel may have had up to 200 nuclear weapons stockpiled. For his disclosure, Vanunu was kidnapped by Israeli agents in Rome, secretly tried in Israel, convicted of treason and sentenced to 18 years imprisonment, much of which has been spent in solitary confinement. In 1986 the world was shocked by two major technological failures. The Challenger spacecraft exploded shortly after takeoff, killing the seven astronauts aboard. The second incident occurred at reactor 4 at the Chernobyl nuclear power station . The reactor core fuel exploded, sending a radioactive cloud containing some 50 million curies of radiation around the world, contaminating large areas of the Ukraine and Belarus. Representatives of 150 nations gathered in August 1987 for the UN Conference on the Relationship Between Disarmament and Development, boycotted by the U.S. on the grounds that disarmament and Third World development should be treated as separate issues. In September 1987 the U.S. and Soviet Union agreed to establish Nuclear Risk Reduction Centers in both countries to reduce the risks of accidental nuclear war. In December the two nations signed the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty , agreeing to remove these weapons from Europe. By the end of the 1980s the Cold War was thawing. The Berlin Wall was opened to allow free travel between East and West on November 9, 1989. The Eastern European countries were electing non-communist governments. Dissident leaders such as Lech Walesa in Poland and Vaclav Havel in Czechoslovakia were being elected to the highest officers in their countries. During the decade of the 1980s some five and a half million people were killed in warfare, nearly three-quarters of whom were civilians.


11 January
DUNGENESS, U.K. - Both reactors at Dungeness will be out of action while engineers check for dangerous cracks. Safety engineers are known to be embarrassed by the discovery of bad cracks up to a metre long since last spring. The cracks have been found in the pipes which regulate the gas coolant. Failure of the pipes and loss of coolant would lead to a serious emergency which would result in a core meltdown. Engineers have been reported as saying that because of their age (Dungeness A came into operation in 1964) and the costs of repair, neither will be brought back into use. ("Guardian" 11th January, 1980, International Nuclear News Service No. 12 January/April 1980)

11 January
HINKLEY POINT, U.K. - Reports indicate that there is severe cracking at Hinkley Point A. The primary coolant circuit has no expansion bellows. It is believed that the largest cracks ever discovered in any nuclear system have been found at Hinkley, the largest being more than 3 metres long. ("Guardian" 11th January, 1980; International Nuclear News Service No.12 January/April 1980)

14 January
DUNGENESS, ENGLAND - The Dungeness plant was shut down because of cracks found in the cooling gas circuits. (W.I.S.E. Vol.2 No.3 p.7)

18 January
INDIAN POINT, NY., U.S.A. - An earthquake measuring 3 on the Richter Scale shook twin reactors at Indian Point, New York. Luckily the reactors were not functioning at the time. The plants are built on the Ramapo Fault. (W.I.S.E. Ibid.)

28 January
WAKASA BAY, JAPAN - Levels of radioactivity in Wakasa Bay where there are seven nuclear reactors are six times higher than in 1972 when the reactors were started up. These findings were made by the Fishery Damage Research Group consisting of local fishing people and Kyoto University researchers. (Revealing Japan in W.I.S.E. Ibid)

LA HAGUE, NETHERLANDS - A breach occurred in the pipeline carrying radioactive water during a storm. (International Nuclear News Service p.12)

MARALEK, AUSTRALIA - A report commissioned by the Federated Miscellaneous Workers Union at Narbalek and Ranger shows that safety procedures safeguarding health are almost ignored. Protective masks are provided but never worn and there is no supervision on the obeying of safety procedures. Workers have gamma protective badges but difficulties are experienced in auditing the program. Signs are only in English although not all workers can read English. Safety advice shown in the washroom reads: "Wash hands before eating, smoking, or going to the toilet". (W.I.S.E. Vol.2 No.2 p.12)

COTER CORPORATION, COLORADO, U.S.A. - Alpha radiation from the Coter Corporation uranium mine has been dumped in the nearby river and may render water supplies to hundreds of communities in the U.S.A. dangerous for a long time. The level of radiation in the drinking water in the Denver suburb of Fairmont is 500 picocuries per litre. The recommended radiation level is 10 picocuries per litre. (W.I.S.E. Ibid)

JAPAN - An employee of Kansai's Electric Power Company at Mihama died of leukemia in October 1979. The Fukui Labour Standards are concerned that his death was caused by irradiation. The leukemia victim, aged 40, worked at the plant since 1975 as head of a team that controlled radiation control areas and analyzed primary cooling water. (W.I.S.E. Op.Cit p.14)

GOSGEN, SWITZERLAND - The new reactor at Gosgen shut down because of a broken valve. The reactor had only been operating for several months. No radioactivity was released. (W.I.S.E. Ibid)

LAWRENCE LIVERMORE, CA., U.S.A. - An earthquake caused a split in a storage tank holding low-level radioactive waste at California's Lawrence Livermore Nuclear Weapons Research Laboratory. The laboratory, which stores about 150kgs of Plutonium, is 70 miles from San Francisco. The laboratory is in one of the world's shakiest earthquake zones and a major tremor could cause a leak that would kill tens of thousands of people. ("The Age", 24th April 1980) The Lawrence Livermore Nuclear Weapons Research Laboratory was closed after particles of radioactivity escaped into the atmosphere. ("The Australian" 21st April 1980; The Age. 24th April 1980)

11 February
BRADWELL 1, U.K. - The No.1 reactor at Bradwell has been closed for inspection since last summer and found to be suffering from major cracks in its primary cooling circuits. The affected primary circuit contains high pressure carbon dioxide which transfers heat from the reactor to the steam generators. Failure of this circuit could result in serious overheating in the reactor core and a possible relesse of radioactive material. The shutdown could last for months or even years.

It is now known that Bradwell, Dungeness, Hinkley Point and Sizewell, all Magnox reactors built in the 1960's, have serious defects in primary circuit welds. Similar faults are believed to exist at Windscale, Chapel Cross and Hunterston in Scotland. ("Guardian" 11th February, 1980, International Nuclear News Service No.12 January/April 1980)

11 February
THREE MILE ISLAND, PA., U.S.A. - 4,500 litres of radioactive water leaked from the Three Mile Ialand reactor. (W.I.S.E. Ibid)

12 February
THREE MILE ISLAND, PA., U.S.A. - The radioactive gas Krypton 85 escaped from Three Mile Island for 16 hours. (W.I.S.E. Ibid)

12 February
BRADWELL, U.K. - British authorities have closed the Bradwell Plant after electronic scans showed welding cracks in the cooling system of No.1 reactor. Failure of the primary coolant could cause critical overheating in the reactor core and possible release of radioactive materials. ("Financial Review" 12th February, 1980)

27 February
CRYSTAL RIVER, FL.,U.S.A. - Crystal River reactor shut down after a malfunction triggered an emergency cooling system. A 'Class B' emergency was declared and the N.R.C. set up its emergency control centre outside Washington - the first time this has happened since Three Mile Island. Some of the contaminated water spilled into the containment building which housed the reactor. The Florida Power Company, owners of the facility, said water would be siphoned off into leak proof containers and disposed of. ("The Australian" 28th February 1980. W.I.S.E. Ibid; "Financial Review" 28/2/1980)

27 February
THREE MILE ISLAND, PA., U.S.A. - "Tiny" amounts of radioactive gas was released into the atmosphere as a preliminary to the first human visit inside the contaminated reactor building since March 1979. Metropolitan Edison Company employed a team of four workers to enter the airlock to sample Cesium and Strontium so the company can determine how to decontaminate the plant. Lieutenant-Governor William Scranton said the safety of the local people could not be guaranteed. "We fear the dangers of not venting at all are greater than controlled venting." he said. ("Daily News" 27th February 1980; International Nuclear News Service No.12 p.33)

PADUCAH, KENTUCKY, U.S.A. - Joe Harding, a former enrichment plant worker, is dying from cancer. He keeps a list of fellow workers the Union Carbide's enrichment plant at Paducah, Kentucky, who have died or are dying of cancers and blood diseases once considered rare. Of the 200 men Joe worked with since 1952, at least 50 are dead. He has had his stomach removed and contracts pneumonia every year. Union Carbide has never granted compensation to any of its employees for radiation-related injuries or illnesses although Joe and others have been involved in several law suits. (W.I.S.E. Vol.2 No.2 p.4)

4 March
BRUNSBUTTEL, GERMANY - 150,000 litres of 'lightly contaminated' radioactive water escaped into the reactor containment building as pipes were being cleaned at Brunebuttel Nuclear Reactor in West Germany. The plant has been shut down since an accident there in mid-1978. (W.I.S.E. Vol.2 No.4 p.19)

12 March
ALDERMASTON, U.K. - A third worker at Britain's top secret Aldermaston Nuclear Weapons Plant has died of cancer. DONALD LESLIE SENT had worked at the plant for 20 years and was one of nearly 70 workers who lodged claims against the Minister for Defence, alleging exposure to radiation at the Atomic Research Establishment in Berkshire. The BBC-2 television program "Newsnight" quoted a senior Aldermaston scientist saying standards were lower than at civilian atomic stations, which again raises the question: "Is there any 'safe' level of exposure to radiation?" (AAP/AP "Daily News" 12th March 1980; "Sydney Morning Herald" 12th March 1980)

13 March
SAINT LAURENT DES EAUX, FRANCE - An accident occurred at the second reactor at Saint Laurent des EAUX. No official description was given but it was admitted that repairs would take several weeks. It was reported that there was a break in the protection around the fuel charges. A similar accident there in 1969 led to a shutdown for a year. (W.I.S.E. Ibid)

March 21
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - On the 19th August 1980 the Minister for Transport, Mr. Hunt, said in Parliament that a drama involving Pan-Am at Sydney Airport on Friday, 21st March, had involved radioactive materials. The consignment, destined for the Atomic Energy Commission at Lucas Heights was described as "cobalt 57 0.10% curies and 5 PO 210 radio nuclide". ("West Australian" 19/8/1980)

27 March
ISAR, GERMANY - The Isar nuclear plant in Ohu near Landshut shut down after radioactive gas escaped from a safety container in the machine room. (W.I.S.E. Ibid)

27 March
CHOOZ, FRANCE - The Chooz nuclear power plant closed until the end of May due to a damaged reactor. (W.I.S.E. Ibid)

SANTA MARIA DE GARONA, SPAIN -- A serious accident took place at the Santa Maria de Garona plant in the province of Burgos. Nine tubes ruptured and caused primary coolant to leak out. New cracks in the primary cooling system have been discovered since. The plant will be shut down for six months, repairs will be slow as they will have to take place in the centre of the reactor building. (W.I.S.E. Ibid)

OYSTER CREEK, U.S.A. - The Oyster Creek reactor in New Jersey leaked 160 gallons of low level radioactive water. The leak, caused by a faulty valve, was discovered three days after it began filling a concrete catch basin. Soil contaminated by the leak has been sealed in 55 gallon steal drums for eventual burial. The leak occurred while the plant was closed for routine maintenance. ("Los Angeles Times", 20th March 1980; W.I.S.E. Ibid)

CALVERT CLIFF, MD., U.S.A. - Radioactive gas leaked for five minutes from a waste gas storage tank at Calvert Cliff Nuclear Power Plant. 55 employees were evacuated from the plant for 45 minutes. ("Los Angeles Times", 28th March 1980; W.I.S.E. Ibid)

15 April
LA HAGUE, FRANCE - France came very close to a major nuclear accident when fire caused a breakdown of the cooling system at the waste dump and reprocessing plant at La Hague. The fire destroyed the transformer leaving the emergency generators without current. Electricity is vital for the pumps which work non-stop cooling the highly radioactive waste in the giant storage tanks. With the cooling system not working, the tanks began to boil. It was estimated that it would only take three hours before the water would evaporate and the waste would be spread into the atmosphere. With the failure of the electricity, everything went out of action - the instruments used for checking the Plutonium to make sure no critical mass is formed, the central instrument board, the intercom and loudspeaker system used to warn workers to evacuate. All areas of the plant were contaminated. It will take several months to repair the electrical installations. Authorities have tried to deny that any failure occurred. (W.I.S.E. Vol.2 No.4 p.15)

20 April
LAWRENCE LIVERMORE, CA., U.S.A. - A second leak within eight days occurred at the Lawrence Livermore Nuclear Weapons Research Laboratory. Both leaks were in rooms where Plutonium was being kept in "glove boxes" - sealed containers used to hold lethal substances during experiments. ("The Australian", 21st April, 1980) Workers at California's Lawrence Livermore Nuclear Weapons Research Laboratory have a five times greater incidence of a virulent skin cancer, according to a study sponsored by the Federal Department of Energy and carried out by the Californian Department of Health Services. The study, which took years to complete, showed there were 19 cases of malignant melanoma among laboratory employees between 1972 and 1977. At least 4 victims have died. A widow of one victim is suing the laboratory for several million dollars damages on the grounds that negligence and carelessness led to the scientist's death. The findings are puzzling some scientists because melanoma has always been associated with ultra-violet radiation (from the sun, lamps and welding equipment etc.) ("The Age", 24/3/1980)

LA HAGUE, FRANCE - Divers completed repairs to a faulty undersea pipeline which carries radioactive water from the nuclear treatment plant for the second time in a month. This time the breach occurred in calm water and spilt radioactive water into the channel. This is the 39th time the pipe has broken. Unionists have called for a six months closure of the factory claiming the equipment is "decrepit". The Regional Anti-Nuclear Committee has demanded closure of the plant saying the health of the workers, neighbouring populations, and consumers of sea and land produce were being affected. (International Nuclear News Service, No.12 p.12)

SWEDEN - A Swedish county issues Iodine tablets to people who live around one of Sweden's four nuclear reactors to help protect them from cancer of the thyroid. (Reuter in International Nuclear News Service, No.12 p.19)

BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA - Deaths from lung cancer probably caused by uranium mining operations in Ontario are still taking place almost monthly according to a United Steelworkers of America employee. HOMER SEQUIN made the charge in front of a B.C. Royal Commission into Uranium Mining. Sequin alleged that 81 lung cancer deaths were attributable to uranium operations at Elliot Lake where Denison Hines Ltd. had been operating since the 1950's according to union records. Up to 14th March 1975, 496 present or former Elliot Lake mine and surface workers were identified as having lung disabilities in whole or in part as the direct result of dust exposure in the uranium industry. Sequin said "spills and breaks which spew contaminants into the environment happen all too frequently... the affected Serpent River watershed remains destroyed". (International Nuclear News Service, No.12 p.25)

FESSENHEIM, FRANCE - According to Mr. ETEMAD, a nuclear expert who used to work with the French reactor building company FRAMATOME, there are cracks in the Fessenheim nuclear power plant where ten relatively minor accidents have occurred. The Director of the plant had to admit that faulty parts had been built into the reactor. There are probably cracks in the part which connects the pipes to the reactor vessel, a place which cannot be reached until after the reactor starts operating. This is one of the most sensitive parts of the reactor because of high pressure and temperature changes. Etemad estimates the part could break within five years of starting the reactor. The reactor had already been operating for three years. The resulting accident would be more serious than Harrisburg. (W.I.S.E. Vol.2 No.3 p.9)

LOVIISA 2, FINLAND - A faulty reactor vessel was delivered by the U.S.S.R. for Loviisa 2. Although a lot of cracks were discovered the reactor has been accepted. The experts say it is impossible to repair. The owners of Loviisa have ordered an "impartial investigation" following the discovery of more cracks. The co-called "independent" investigation is to be carried out by the German Kraftwerk Union, one of the largest builders of nuclear power plants in the works, and a subcontractor for the Loviisa plant! It is feared that despite the dangers, the vessel will be put into action because of gigantic investments and the prestige involved.

At the end of November, 1979, it was discovered that 70% of the tube fasteners in the Loviisa 1 plant had faulty fittings in the primary circulation and the emergency cooling system. The repairs led to a standstill for three weeks. (WISE Vol.2 No.3 p.8)

LAWRENCE LIVERMORE, SAN FRANCISCO, CA., U.S.A. - An earthquake rumbled through San Franciaco causing the panicky evacuation of the top secret Lawrence Livermore Atomic Weapons Laboratory. The earthquake measured a modest 5.5 on the Richter Scale but this was enough to cause minor injuries at the Laboratory, shatter power and gas lines, and rupture a tank holding 30,000 gallons of low-level radioactive liquid. Tritium-contaminated water was leaked at the rate of a quart a minute. (William Scobie reporting in San Francisco listed in International Nuclear News Service (South Australia) No.12 p.33)

9 May
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - The Korean and South-East Asian Forces Association is demanding compensation for alleged cancer-causing effects of radioactive water used in soft drinks supplied to the Australian troops in Korea. The Association's President, Mr. George Campbell, said that an unknown number of soldiers had died from several forms of cancer after serving in Japan and Korea. He said: "we believe that at least half of the occupation forces were affected in some way by the radioactive fallout at Hiroshima". The water used to make the beer and soft drinks also came from Hiroshima. ("The West Australian" 9th May 1980)

11 May
ARKANSAS 2, NEW YORK, U.S.A. - Reactor shut down after radioactive water 45.7 cms deep covered the floor of a reactor building at Unit 1 of the Arkansas Nuclear 1 power plant. The leak had not been plugged when a seal on the coolant pump failed. By noon, 160,000 litres of water covered the floor of the reactor building. ("The West Australian", 12th May 1980. W.I.S.E. Vol.2 No.5 July/September 1980 p.27)

12 May
ZION, ILLINOIS, U.S.A. - Eight workers were contaminated during an accident at the Zion Nuclear Plant's Unit 2 when a hose connected to an incorrect valve ruptured, spewing out 10,000 gallons of contaminated water. (W.I.S.E. Ibid)

17 May
KARLSRUHE, WEST GERMANY - Research reprocessing plant at Karlsruhe inoperative for approximately one year due to an accident; cause unknown. Plant radioactively contaminated and there are fears that radiation leaked into the environment. Accident officially confirmed by G.W.K., the German reprocessing company. (W.I.S.E. Op.Cit. p.21)

21 May
LA HAGUE, FRANCE - 300-500 litres of liquid containing Plutonium (1 to 20 grams/ltr) was spilt on concrete floor. Cause of accident unknown but thought to be another breakdown in patched up electricity work. (W.I.S.E. Ibid)

22 May
NORTH ANNA 1, U.S.A. - North Anna 1 Nuclear Plant malfunctioned and was shut down when operators were unable to close valve. Second malfunction two hours later caused activation of the emergency cooling system. (W.I.S.E. Op.Cit. p.27)

Brunswick Nuclear Plant accidentally released a small amount of radioactive Caesium, forcing the plant to shut down. Surrounding vegetation showed a high amount of radioactivity. (W.I.S.E. Ibid)

SAVANNAH RIVER, S.C., U.S.A. - Approximately 100 workers were evacuated from the Savannah River Nuclear Materials Plant for two days after highly toxic hydrogen sulphide was found to be leaking from the plant. (W.I.S.E. Ibid)

DUNGENESS, SCOTLAND - Dungeness Reactor 2 was closed down when severe cracks were discovered in the primary cooling circuit. ("The Guardian", filth January, 1980)

PINE RIDGE INDIAN RESERVATION, SOUTH DAKOTA, U.S.A. - Serious contamination found in the water at Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. W.A.R.N. (Women of all Red Nations) report showed that in one month in 1979, 38% of pregnancies reported to the Public Health Service Hospital in Pine Ridge resulted in spontaneous abortions and excessive bleeding. Of the children born, 60-70% suffer breathing complications as a result of underdeveloped lungs and/or jaundice. Children have been born with cleft palates, club feet, diseases uncommon to the Dakota people. Pine Ridge Reservation lies south-east of Black Hills, the site of extensive uranium drilling and mining from the late 1940's to the early 1970's. 25% of the women on the reservation have been sterilized without being consulted. (W.I.S.E. Vol.2 No.4 p.5)

5 June
MARCOULE, FRANCE - Two workers radiated during an explosion at the nuclear factory in Marcoule. Similar accident occurred two weeks earlier. (W.I.S.E. Vol.2 No.5 July/September 1980 p.27)

18 June
WINDSCALE, U.K. - 175 workers at Windscale Nuclear Plant became ill after drinking contaminated water. Fault in the system allowed water from the polluted River Eben, which is used to cool the reactor, to enter the drinking water through a valve. (A.A.P. "Daily News" 18/6/1980; "West Australian" 19/6/1980)

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - In April 1985 ALP UP Peter Milton told the Australian Parliament that in June 1980 the US Strategic Air Command in Omaha had been falsely alerted by its radar screens to incoming Soviet nuclear missiles. A full nuclear alert followed which lasted for several minutes before it was realized that the information was false. ("The West Australian" 18/4/85)

19 June
DOEL 2, BELGIUM - Valve of the secondary cooling circuit of the Doel 2 Reactor opened in error. Reactor stopped at once. (W.I.S.E. Op.Cit. p.27)

23 June
BELGIUM - Worker contaminated and burnt when radioactive steam suddenly released. (W.I.S.E. Ibid)

28 June
BROWN'S FERRY 3, AL., U.S.A. - For 12 minutes, operators were unable to stop the chain reaction at Brown's Ferry No. 3 nuclear plant at Alabama, U.S.A. It took four attempts to insert all control rods into the core. The reactor reported 17 accidents in 1979 and was in the process of shutting down to repair a leak in the feed water line at the time of this accident. (W.I.S.E. Vol.2 No.6 October/November 1980 p.10)

29 June
TMI 2, HARRISBURG, PA., U.S.A. - More than 40,000 litres of radioactive water leaked from a reactor at the Three Mile Island nuclear power station at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on 29th June 1980. The leak in the No.2 reactor started in a cooling system. The No.2 reactor has been the only one in use since the major accident at Three Mile Island last March. ("The Australian" 30/6/1980)

SACAVEN, PORTUGAL - Research reactor Sacavem near Lisbon shut down due to water leak from cooling pool. A year ago the plant had to be shut down for the same reason. (W.I.S.E. Ibid)

BROWN'S FERRY 3, ALABAMA, U.S.A. - The Brown's Ferry Unit 3 reactor was closed in June when its emergency shutdown system (SCRAM) failed to operate properly. During a routine maintenance shutdown, 75 of the 185 boron control rods that halt the nuclear reaction would not descent into the core of the reactor. After three manual attempts failed the automatic SCRAM finally moved the rods, and a serious accident was narrowly averted. (W.I.S.E. Vol.3 no.4 September 1981 P.9)

3 July
PRAIRIE ISLAND, MINNESOTA, U.S.A. - Prairie Island plant on the Mississippi River closed after it began leaking radioactive water and gas. (A.A.P. Reuter "West Australian", 3rd July 1980)

4 July
TMI 1, HARRISBURG, PA., U.S.A. - Spill of 45,000 litres of radioactive water at Three Mile Island's undamaged but idle No.1 reactor during preparations to vent radioactive Krypton gas. According to Metropolitan Edison Company spokesman no radiation was released to the outside environment. ("Weekend News" 28th July 1980)

18 July
PACIFIC OCEAN, U.S.A. - Records found indicate that more than 12,000 barrels of radioactive waste were dumped in the Pacific Ocean at previously undisclosed sites by the Atomic Energy Commission. A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency official said the Atomic Energy Commission had dumped waste at 10 sites. The only previously acknowledged dump was south of the Faralion Islands where 25% of the 47,000 barrels have burst spilling radioactive waste onto the ocean floor. ("Daily News" 18th July 1980 p.19)

TRAWSFYNYDD, WALES, U.K. - Water leaking into the core of a reactor containing radioactive fuel rods caused shutdown of Nuclear Power Station at Trawsfynydd in North Wales. (W.I.S.E. Vol.2 No.5 July/September 1980 p.27)

ALABAMA, ETC., U.S.A. - The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has ordered the shutdown of 24 of the country's 67 nuclear power Stations for tests following the failure of a key safety system in an Alabama plant last month. The tests will be phased to avoid disrupting power supplies. ("Sydney Morning Herald" 10th July 1980

JAPAN - Japan's Science and Technology Agency has announced that it has been investigating the cause of a radioactive leak which had gone undetected for the past 15 years. Authorities concluded that the leak must have occurred during experiments with radioactive materials which took place in 1965. The areas affected had been restricted until 1967. ("The Age" 5th July 1980)

late July
RINGHALS 2, SWEDEN - Ringhals 2 reactor shut down after fissures in key circuits discovered. (A.A.P. "Daily News" 8th August 1980)

U.S.S.R., IN WATERS OFF JAPAN - Fire aboard a Soviet Echo-class nuclear submarine in waters off Japan reportedly killed at least 9 crewmen. Some 55 survivors evacuated. (WISE NC 262 31/10/86)

BARSEBACK 1, SWEDEN - During the yearly inspection of Unit 1 reactor at the Barseback plant in Sweden, cracks were found in the T-formed pipes which connect the auxiliary feed water system and the shutdown cooling system with the main feed water system. (W.I.S.E Vol.2 No.6 Dec 1980 p.10)

8 August
FESSENHEIM 1 & 2, FRANCE - Both units at the Fessenheim nuclear reactor in France were shut down after a defect in Unit 1 caused the leakage of "some water." News of the breakdown was withheld from the press for one day because the plant operators did not want to 'worry the public'. Fessenheim has been proved to be one of the most accident prone reactors in Europe. (W.I.S.E . vol. .2 No.6 October/December 1980 p.10)

8 August
MARY KATHLEEN, AUSTRALIA - Process worker charged with stealing 2,200 kilograms of uranium oxide worth $145,200 between April 1977 and July 1978 from Mary Kathleen Uranium Ltd. ("Australian" 12th August 1980). Following this incident the Federal Government admitted the existing system of monitoring uranium stocks was deficient and strict new checks on mining, milling and processing of uranium at all stages would be undertaken. "The alleged disappearance of more than 2,200 kgs of yellowcake comes as a serious embarrassment to the Prime Minister, Mr. Freaer, the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Anthony and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Peacock, who have repeatedly claimed that Australia's export safeguards are 'second to none'" ("West Australian" 13th August 1980). Another man charged with the theft of 220 grams of uranium oxide from Mary Kathleen Uranium Ltd. ("West Australian", 16th August, 1980)

8 August
RINGHALS 1, SWEDEN - Ringhals 1 reactor shut down after breakdown of pump in cooling System. Replacement of defective parts expected to take up to two months. (A.A.P. "Daily News" 8th August 1980)

9 August
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - Emergency services went on alert after radioactive material was spilt during cargo handling at Sydney Airport. Two glass vials of radioactive Iodine 125 used in pathology tests broke and leaked onto tarmac. Officials from A.E.C. Research Centre at Lucas Heights called in to wash tarmac. ("West Australian" 12th August 1980).

13 August
AUSTRALIA - Up to 30 drums of radioactive waste from atomic bomb tests were dumped off Queensland in the mid 1950's. Mr. Noel Freeman, a R.A.A.F. veteran, said the waste came from four Lincoln bombers that flew through radioactive clouds and monitored the fallout of British A-bomb tests at Emu Field and the Monte Bello Islands. Mr. Freeman was a service technician with the team which decontaminated the planes. The pilot of the aircraft that dumped the waste said several of the 20-30 drums exploded on impact. Concentrated radioactive waste weaned from the planes and radioactive chunks of the plane had been sealed in 200 litre drums and dropped at sea. Mr. Freeman said he was breaking his silence about the project in an effort to help fellow workers of the decontamination team who were suffering ill health obtain compensation. ("West Australian" 13th August 1980)

14 August
SEQUOYAH, TENNESSEE, U.S.A. - The Sequoyah Nuclear Plant in Tennessee, shut down after operators were unable to control one of the four banks of control rods. Nevertheless the Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved a full power license a month later. On 3rd October, 90 minutes after it began generating for the first time, the Sequoyah Plant was forced to shut down because the water level in a drainage tank for a steam turbine became too high. (W.I.S.E. Vol.2 No.6 October/December 1980 p.10)

14 August
RINGHALS 2, SWEDEN - Unit 2 of the Ringhals Nuclear Plant in Sweden shut down after a breakdown of a pump in the cooling System. Unit 1 had been shut down at the end of July after cracks were discovered in the pipes of the cooling system. (W.I.S.E. Vol.2 No.6 October/December 1980 p.10)

21 August
U.S.S.R. near OKINAWA, JAPAN - At least nine crew members died and another three were injured in a fire on a Soviet nuclear submarine off the coast of Japan. Grave fears were expressed that the submarine, lying crippled in the Pacific Ocean 140 kms east of Okinawa, was leaking radioactive material. Ships and aircraft warned to stay out of the area. ("Daily News" 21/7/1980 p.4) "West Australian" 22nd August, 1980 p.1)

8 September
ILLINOIS, U.S.A. - The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is investigating the possibility that 1,400 kilolitres of radioactive water may have leaked from the nuclear power plant near Morris, Illinois. "We think it's a paper loss - a faulty gauge or some problem in monitoring." said a spokesperson from the operators, Commonwealth Edison. ("West Australian" 8th September 1980)

19 September
CENTRAL ARKANSAS, U.S.A. - An explosion rocked a remote Air Force missile site in central Arkansas injuring 10 people believed to all be members of the Force. The explosion occurred as a maintenance crew tried to stop a fuel leak in a giant Titan missile - part of the United States' nuclear strike force. Residents living within 1.5 kms of the missile site had been evacuated before the explosion, but after the blast, all people within 8 kms were moved out of the area. The Titan missile site is one of 18 located in Arkansas. ("The Age" 20/9/1980)

During routine maintenance in a Titan II missile silo, an Air Force repairman dropped a socket wrench which punctured a fuel tank and caused an explosion. The spanner pierced the missile's fuel tank blowing the nuclear warhead apart from the rest of the missile. It was recovered intact. 22 workers were injured and 1,400 people from surrounding arena were evacuated. "There was no radiation contamination," ("The National Times" 15/3/1981, "The Herald", 20/9/1980).

22 September
LA HAGUE, FRANCE - An accident occurred at the La Hague reprocessing plant, on the coast of Normandy. The accident, which occurred at the plant's temporary waste storage site, resulted in the release of large quantities of radioactive water. Although workers discovered the leak immediately on 22nd September, it was not until 1st October that the plant's Director admitted the failure of the pump but denied that any contamination had taken place. On 3rd October the S.N.P.E.A. - C.F.D.T. the leading trade union at La Hague, distributed a written statement concerning the seriousness of the accident to all plant employees. In the paper the union also charged that the plant officials had attempted to cover up the contamination leak in an effort to down play the seriousness of the accident. (W.I.S.E. Vol.2 No.6 October/December, 1980 p.21)

26 September
NEVADA, U.S.A. - "Small amounts" of radioactive gas escaped from the site of underground nuclear tests north-west of Las Vegas, Nevada. A Department of Energy spokesperson claims that the gas is "not expected to pose a health hazard". (W.I.S.E. Vol.2 No.6 October/December 1980 p.10)

28 September
OLKILUOTO, FINLAND - 100,000 litres of low level radioactive water leaked due to a defective valve at the Olkiluoto nuclear power plant in Western Finland. This is the biggest leak yet in a Finnish nuclear power plant. The most alarming fact about the accident was that the automatic alarm system did not go off. The utility had decided to install a new alarm system. (W.I.S.E. Vol.2 No.6 p.10)

DOUNREAY, SCOTLAND - A B.B.C. television programme alleged that Plutonium was lost from an experimental reactor at Dounreay in 1973 and 1977. The Director of Dounreay, although not sure of the whereabouts of the fuel rods, remains adamant that the fuel rods were not stolen. ("The Age" 9th September 1980)

JAPAN - A Japanese delegate to the Nuclear-Free Pacific Forum in Sydney, MR. KANOGU SEKIGUCHI, has said that more than 6,280,000 workers had been exposed to dangerous levels of radiation at Japan's 21 nuclear plants. He Said the eight electrical companies controlling the Japanese plants had enormous political power and refused to give details of many accidents which had resulted in deaths of plant workers. Another Japanese delegate, a doctor who survived the Hiroshima atomic bomb attack, said the U.S. had grossly underestimated the number of people killed in the attacks at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Dr. SHUNTARO said it was now known that about 160,000 inhabitants of Hiroshima had died within a year of the bombing in 1945, compared with the American estimate of 60,000. In Nagasaki he claimed 70,000 had died compared with the U.S. estimate of 28,000. ("The Adelaide Advertiser", 30th September 1980)

LODI, NEW JERSEY, U.S.A. - In Lodi, two canisters containing radioactive Iridium 192 fell off a truck transporting them from Jersey City to an unknown destination. The Environmental Protection Agency spokesperson described this as a "somewhat routine traffic accident". However routine, authorities were initially unable to locate the canisters, and this almost caused a major radiation alert before they were found intact. (W.I.S.E. Vol.2 No.6 p.10)

JAPAN - Fishermen in northern Japan have protested against the Government's plan to return Japan's only nuclear-powered ship to Port Ominato, which refused the ship after it developed a radiation leak in its 1974 test run. The 'Mitsu', which has been docked for repairs in Sasebo, 960 kms south-west of Tokyo, since 1978, has been idle since a defective radioactive shield caused a leak in its reactor on 1/9/1974, a week after it first left port.

7 October
HANFORD, WA., U.S.A. - Eight workers at the Hanford nuclear reservation in Washington were exposed to Plutonium oxide when a container of scrap Plutonium ignited scattering the powdery radioactive material. Doctors at the reservation claim that those exposed should "suffer no ill effects". (W.I.S.E. Vol.2 No.6 p.10)

8 October
ISAR 1, LANDSHUT, WEST GERMANY - The ISAR Unit 1 nuclear plant in Ohu near Landshut in Bavaria, West Germany, shut down for one week because of a leak in the cooling system. (W.I.S.E. Vol.2 No.6 p.10)

15 October
BIBLIS B, WEST GERMANY - 20 broken screws have been discovered in the outer shield of the 1300 m.w. Block B of the Biblis nuclear power plant in West Germany. Block B has been shut down since 2nd August for revision. (W.I.S.E. Vol.2 No.6 p.10)

17 October
INDIAN POINT 2, NY., U.S.A. - Indian Point Unit 2 reactor (30 miles from New York City) shut down due to a number of mishaps which began 3rd October. The accident resulted in the leakage of 100,000 gallons of water from the secondary cooling system into the reactor containment building. Indian Point officials failed to report the accident until several days after the reactor was finally closed. (W.I.S.E. Vol.2 No.6 p.10)

4 December
PORT MACQUARIE, AUSTRALIA - An accident near Port Macquarie involvecd a truck, which overturned, carrying a 60-litre drum labeled "danger radioactive - Americium 241", plus a smaller container labeled "Caesium 137" and foodstuffs. ("The Canberra Times" 11/3/1981). When Sydney police called the Atomic Energy Commission at Lucas Heights for advice after the road-accident involving radioactive materials, they were told to call back later "when the A.E.C. opens". ("The Canberra Times. 11/3/1981). Dr. JOHN McKAY of Port Macquarie has asserted that 16 people who attended the accident are suffering from the symptoms of radioactive poisoning. Dr. McKay has accused the Atomic Energy Commission of a cover-up on the dangers of the accident, and has claimed that this lack of concern may endanger the 8,000 people in nearby Laurieton if radiation poisons the town's water supply. (W.I.S.E. Vol.3 No.3 June/July 1981 p.16) The New South Wales Minister for Public Health has accused Dr. McKay of "causing public mischief". The Minister said the Health Commission report had found that although the protective containers of the radioactive material were damaged, both were considered to be safe with no spillage or leakage of radioactivity. Possible contamination of underground and service water near the crash site had been alleged, but this was unlikely because water samples had shown no D.D.T. ("The Sydney Morning Herald" 16th April 1981) Anti-uranium mining groups are still pressing the Government to make a full-scale inquiry into the whole issue of transporting nuclear fuels on public roads.

UNITED KINGDOM - Nine people have been accidentally affected by radioactive substances while working in Britain's power stations, according to a quarterly report by the Health and Safety Executive. The report lists 13 incidents and says other workers were exposed to possible radiation from contamination of floors, corridors and other surfaces. ("West Australian" 1st December 1980)

U.S.A. - According to a report released at the beginning of September by the Environmental Policy Institute (E.P.I.) workers at the 69 operating U.S. nuclear power plants received 35% more radiation in 1980 than in 1979, even though only one new nuclear power plant went into operation during that time. The study, compiled from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (N.R.C.) data, states that 80,200 workers were exposed to 53,797 perso-rems in 1980. This compares with 64,073 workers exposed to 39,759 person-rems in 1979. The average exposure was an all-time high of 791 person-rems per reactor. "Person-rems measure the sum of all exposure to all workers.

Although there is a regulated limit to the amount of radiation any individual worker can be exposed to in a three months period, no U.S. Government agency limits the total amount of radiation that a nuclear plant gives its total work force. Nuclear plants, therefore, must rely on thousands of temporary workers, called "jumpers", to do high radiation impact jobs in major repairs. This explains why the number of workers exposed to radiation has risen dramatically from 145 at an average plant in 1969, to 1,010 in 1980. FRED MILLER, researcher with E.P.I., discounts industry claims that this increase comes from a "one-shot" fix of problems at nuclear plants and therefore won't happen again; MILLER says "the exposure comes from the increased radioactivity in permanent nuclear components".

The opening of the $1.5 billion Diablo Canyon plant midway between LOS ANGELES and San Francisco has been suspended following the discovery of a quake fault three miles from the plant in the ocean floor. (William Scobie in International Nuclear News Service No.12 p.33)

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