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Accidents 1980's


January 3
USSR - Norway has alleged that a Soviet cruise missile flew over its territory last Friday before crashing in Finland. ("The West Australian" "The Age" 4th January 1985) A British newspaper has claimed that the Soviet cruise missile which crossed Norwegian airspace before creaking into Finland last month was on an "attack" mission to west Germany. The missile had been fed the wrong flight plan by a computer error. ("The Age" 1/2/85, "The West Australian" 2/2/85) COMMENT

Human error always lurks behind computer error and while the chance of a mistake remains possible the world is at risk from nuclear missiles. :

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KANUPP, PAKISTAN - While radio-active wastes were being transferred into containers, a rubber hose leaked and heavy water escaped. Initially, the hose was repaired with masking tape; later a new hose was installed. ("Der Spiegel" 20/4/87; WISE NC 275 12/6/87)

January 4
AUSTRALIA - The Royal Commission into nuclear tests was told that 30 badly-leaking drums of radio-active waste were dumped off the West Australian coast. The Commission was also told that Robert Menzies had sent a message to the British PM asking "What the bloody hell is going on, the cloud is drifting over the mainland?" ("The Age", "The West Australian" 5/1/85 "Sunday Times" 6/1/85). A CSIRO scientist is making use of the thin blanket of radioactive Caesium-137 laid over Australia from atmospheric nuclear tests in the northern hemisphere to measure soil erosion. ("The West Australian", "The Age" 7th January 1985)

January 4
LENIN, USSR - "Jane's Defence Weekly" has reported that up to 30 Soviet sailors were killed when the nuclear-powered ice-breaker "Lenin" had a melt-down of its reactor in 1967. ("The West Australian" 17th Jan 1985)

January 17
LONDON, U.K. - A Greenham Common peace protector claims that she broke through security at the base and "twiddled the knobs" on a cruise missile launcher. ("The West Australian" 19th January 1985)

RHEINSBERG, GERMANY - Radioactive coolant escaped during placement of measuring instruments in the core. ("Der Spiegel" 20/4/87, W1SENC275 12/6/87)

MARALINGA, AUSTRALIA - The McClelland Royal Commission was told that one hundred Aborigines walked barefoot over nuclear-contaminated ground because boots they had been given didn't fit. ("Daily News" 5/2/85, "The West Australian", "The Age" 6/2/85)

February 4
The 1953 British nuclear test that allegedly caused 'black mist' phenomenon in South Australia should not have been fired and the fallout was about three times more than forecast, according to a scientist who was involved in the tests. ("The Age" "The West Australian" 13/2/1985)

TEHRAN, IRAN - Iraqi aircraft have attacked an unfinished Iranian nuclear plant and a steel plant, killing at least 11 people. ("Daily News" 5th March 1985)

WOMMERUP, AUSTRALIA - A house built less than 200 meters from an area mined for mineral sands 25 years ago is still contaminated from mineral-sands tailings which are dangerously radioactive. ("The West Australian" 8/4/85)

LONDON, UK - It has been alleged that a 78 year old anti-nuclear campaigner, found slain near her home last year, was murdered by British intelligence. ("Daily News" 22/4/85)

MARALINGA, AUSTRALIA - According to a special report on an investigation of residual radio-active contamination, about 100,000 dangerous metal fragments contaminated with Plutonium still litter the Maralinga atomic test range - 25 years after the atomic tests which caused them. ("The West Australian" 26/4/85)

TIANGE, BELGIUM - A blocked drain pipe caused a waste tank to overflow and radioactive liquids got into the auxiliary building. ("Der Spiegel" 20 Apr 87, WISE NC 275 12 June 1987)

KARRATHA, AUSTRALIA - A mechanical engineer has told the McClelland Royal Commission on British nuclear weapons tests in Australia, that geiger counter readings of the fallout levels near Marble Bar were "off-the-scale". ("The West Australian", "The Age" 6/8/85)

ALGIERS - According to Algerian Television, about 150 Algerians taken prisoner in the Franco-Algerian war were used as guinea pigs to test the effects of radiation on human beings during France's first nuclear test 25 years ago. ("The Age" 11/5/85)
- COMMENT: When the situation in Algeria became too politically sensitive, France moved the test site as far away from home as is globally possible in Mururoa.

AUSTRALIA - Details released under the US Freedom of Information Act have revealed that some sheep in Victoria had six times the normal amount of radio-activity after the suspected explosion of a South African nuclear device. ("Daily News" 21/5/85, "The West Australian" 22/5/85)

June 11
U.K. OFF CALIFORNIA COAST - A 40-tonne fishing boat has rammed a British nuclear submarine, the HMS Resolution, causing slight damage. ("The West Australian" 12/6/85)

June 27
BALAKOVO-1, USSR - Accident at Balakovo-1 (VVER-1000) during initial startup, when the pressurizer relief valve opens suddenly and steam at 300 degrees C is sprayed into staff work arena. Fourteen people die. The accident is laid to errors on the part of inexperienced, nervous operating staff. ("Nucleonics Week" 31/5/90; WISE-334 22/6/90).

MARSHALL ISLANDS, SOUTH PACIFIC - A new film by Australian Dennis O'Rourke finds that America willingly allowed hundreds of Pacific Islanders to be exposed to radiation as an experiment during the first US hydrogen bomb explosion 30 years ago. ("The National Times" 21-27/6/85)

USA - Specialists at a terrorism and nuclear arms conference believe that it would be possible for terrorists to obtain nuclear arms. ("The West Australian" 4/7/85)

PINTUNG, TAIWAN - The Pintung nuclear power plant has been shut down for further safety checks following a fire which damaged a generator. The damaged plant was completed two months ago at a cost of $US2.4 billion. ("The Financial Review" 9/7/85)

July 15
COPENHAGEN, DENMARK - An empty barrel from a freighter that sank with a radio-active nuclear cargo has been washed up on the Danish coast. ("The West Australian" 16/7/85)

PARIS, FRANCE - A French magazine claims that one of its journalists was able to buy enough Uranium and Plutonium on the black market to make an A-bomb. ("Daily News" 19/7/85, "The West Australian" 20/7/85)

NEW YORK, USA - Officials have found a small increase in the amount of deadly Plutonium in the city's water supply after threats that the water would be poisoned unless charges against a subway gunman were dropped. ("Sunday Times" 28/7/85 "The West Australian" 29/7/85)

LUCAS HEIGHTS, AUSTRALIA - A radioactive substance called Tritium has been leaking into the storm water drainage system at Lucas Heights and from there into two rivers used for swimming and oyster farming, for more than 10 years. ("The Age" 30/7/85)

LONDON, UK - A major British study has found that the death rate from prostate cancer among some nuclear workers is eight times higher than the national average. ("The West Australian" 19/8/85)

RANGER, AUSTRALIA - Following a leakage of contaminated water into Kakadu National Park, the Northern Territory Government has ordered the Ranger uranium mine not to use its tailings pipeline until a replacement has been installed. ("The Age" 26/9/85, "The West Australian" 26/9/85)

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - The operators of the Ranger uranium mine have again been warned by the NT Government over the accidental spillage of contaminated water following the second such incident in less than a month. ("The Age" 11/10/85)
-- COMMENT: These warnings are countered in public by Energy Resources of Australia Ltd who continue to produce glossy booklets showing how the company is "safeguarding the natural environment....including the area's natural water systems, its flora and fauna and the health and welfare of the indigenous population". (See "Ranger Uranium Mine and the Environment and Safeguarding Ranger uranium").

TMI, PENNSYLVANIA, USA - A small amount of radioactive material has leaked from the reactor at the controversial Three Mile Island nuclear plant re-started 11 days ago. ("Daily News" 15/10/85, "The West Australian" 16/10/85)

BERWICK, PA., USA - About 38,000 litres of mildly radioactive water have spilt inside the Pennsylvania Power and Light Company's nuclear-power plant near Berwick. ("The West Australian" 28/10/85)

HINKLEY POINT, UK - Five hundred workers were given anti-radiation pills after a gas leak at the Hinkley Point B nuclear power station in South West Britain. ("The Daily News" 4/12/85)

USA - The collapse of the US nuclear power program is regarded as imminent: 75 plants cancelled since 1978, including 28 already under construction, with another half-dozen or so cancellations in progress. ("The National Times" 27/12/85 - 2/1/86)

1980 - 1985
CHINA - A small paragraph in a British newspaper (The Guardian) says that careless handling of radioactive materials killed 20 people and injured 1200 in nuclear accidents in China from 1980 to 1985. The Guardian got its information from the China Daily, which quotes an official from the State Environmental Protection Bureau, Luo Guozhen, as saying China needs stricter measures on the handling of radioactive materials to prevent such accidents in the future ("The Guardian" (U.K.) 7/8/89; WISE-317 8/9/89).

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