List Of Nuclear Accidents
Wikipedia Reference Information
This article covers notable accidents involving nuclear devices and radioactive materials. In some cases, a release of radioactive contamination occurs, but in many cases the accident involves a sealed source or the release of radioactivity is small while the direct irradation is large. Due to government and business secrecy, it is not always possible to determine with certainty the frequency or the extent of some events in the early days of the radiation industries. Modern misadventures, accidents, and incidents, which result in injury, death, or serious environmental contamination, tend to be well documented by the IAEA
Because of the different nature of the events it is best to divide the list into nuclear and radiation accidents. An example of nuclear accident might be one in which a reactor core is damaged such as in the Three Mile Island accident, while an example of a radioactive contamination accident might be some event such as a radiography accident where a worker drops the source into a river. These radiation accidents such as those involving the radiography sources often have as much or even greater ability to cause serious harm to both workers and the public than the well known nuclear accidents.
Radiation accidents are more common than nuclear accidents, and are often limited in scale. For instance at Soreq, a worker suffered a dose which was similar to one of the highest doses suffered by a worker on site at Chernobyl on day one. However, because the gamma source was never able to leave the 2-metre thick concrete enclosure, it was not able to harm many others.
The web page at the IAEA, which deals with recent accidents is . The safety significance of nuclear accidents can be assessed and conveyed using the IAEA International Nuclear Event Scale.
The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) collects reports of incidents occurring at regulated facilities. The agency currently (2006) uses a 4 level taxonomy to classify reported incidents:
Notification of Unusual Event Alert
Site Area Emergency
Not all reportable events constitute accidents. Incidents which threaten the normal operation or security of a facility may be reportable but not result in any release of radioactivity.
The US Department of Energy uses a similar classification system for events occurring at fuel cycle plants and facilities owned by the US government which are therefore regulated by the DOE instead of the NRC.
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