List of nuclear and radiation fatalities by country

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The 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, the worst nuclear accident in 25 years, displaced 50,000 households after radiation leaked into the air, soil and sea.[1]
Deceased Liquidators' portraits used for an anti-nuclear power protest in Geneva.
This image of the SL-1 core served as a reminder of deaths and damage that a nuclear meltdown can cause.

This is a List of nuclear and radiation fatalities by country. Not to be confused with the "List of nuclear power accidents by country"

This list only reports the proximate confirmed human deaths and does not go into detail about ecological, environmental or long-term effects such as birth defects or permanent loss of habitable land.


  • September 13, 1987 – Goiania accident. Four fatalities and 320 other people received serious radiation contamination.[2]

Costa Rica[edit]







Soviet Union/Russia[edit]

  • September 29, 1957 – Mayak nuclear waste storage tank explosion at Chelyabinsk. Two hundred plus fatalities and this figure is a conservative estimate; 270,000 people were exposed to dangerous radiation levels. Over thirty small communities had been removed from Soviet maps between 1958 and 1991.[13] (INES level 6).[14]
  • July 4, 1961 – Soviet submarine K-19 accident. Eight fatalities and more than 30 people were over-exposed to radiation.[15]
  • May 24, 1968 – Soviet submarine K-27 accident. Nine fatalities and 83 people were injured.[12]
  • 5 October 1982 – Lost radiation source, Baku, Azerbaijan, USSR. Five fatalities and 13 injuries.[12]
  • August 10, 1985 – Soviet submarine K-431 accident. Ten fatalities and 49 other people suffered radiation injuries.[16]
  • April 26, 1986 – Chernobyl disaster. See below in the section on Ukraine. In 1986, the Ukrainian SSR was part of the Soviet Union.
  • April 6, 1993 – accident at the Tomsk-7 Reprocessing Complex, when a tank exploded while being cleaned with nitric acid. The explosion released a cloud of radioactive gas (INES level 4).[14]




The abandoned city of Pripyat, Ukraine with the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the distance.
  • April 26, 1986 – Chernobyl disaster. Fifty-six direct deaths (47 accident workers, and nine children with thyroid cancer), and it is estimated that there were 4,000 extra cancer deaths among the approximately 600,000 most highly exposed people.[19][20][21]  

United Kingdom[edit]

  • October 8, 1957 – Windscale fire ignites plutonium piles and contaminates surrounding dairy farms, 33 cancer deaths.[22][22][23]  

United States[edit]

  • August 21, 1945 – Harry Daghlian died at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.
  • May 21, 1946 – Louis Slotin died.
  • December 30, 1958 – Cecil Kelley criticality accident, at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.[24]
  • 1961 – (US Army) SL-1 accident resulted in three fatalities.
  • 1964- Wood River Jct. Rhode Island. Robert D. Peabody[25] – according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Robert Peabody was the U.S. nuclear industry’s first and last fatality due to acute radiation syndrome.
  • December 18, 1970 – After the Baneberry test at Yucca Flat, radioactive debris vented into the atmosphere, and 86 workers at the site were exposed to radiation.
  • 1974-1976 – Columbus radiotherapy accident, 10 deaths and 88 injuries.[12][26]
  • 1979 – Church Rock Uranium Mill spill in New Mexico.
  • 1979 - According to, Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in USA had a cooling malfunction that caused part of the core to melt in the 2nd reactor. The TMI-2 reactor was completely destroyed. Some radioactive gas was released a couple of days after the accident, but at the time, was said that it was not enough to cause any dose above background levels to local residents. According to USA Today, Penn State conducted a study finding a link between thyroid cancer of the Southern region of Pennsylvania and the Three Mile Island accident.
  • 1980 – Houston radiotherapy accident, 7 deaths.[12][26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Tomoko Yamazaki and Shunichi Ozasa (June 27, 2011). "Fukushima Retiree Leads Anti-Nuclear Shareholders at Tepco Annual Meeting". Bloomberg.
  2. ^ The Radiological Accident in Goiania p. 2.
  3. ^ Medical management of radiation accidents pp. 299 & 303.
  4. ^ Thule Accident, January 21, 1968 TIME magazine.
  5. ^ a b Pallava Bagla. "Radiation Accident a 'Wake-Up Call' For India's Scientific Community" Science, Vol. 328, 7 May 2010, p. 679.
  6. ^ Broken Arrows at Accessed Aug 24, 2007.
  7. ^ "U.S. Confirms '65 Loss of H-Bomb Near Japanese Islands". The Washington Post. Reuters. May 9, 1989. p. A-27.
  8. ^ a b Benjamin K. Sovacool. A Critical Evaluation of Nuclear Power and Renewable Electricity in Asia, Journal of Contemporary Asia, Vol. 40, No. 3, August 2010, p. 399.
  9. ^ Martin Fackler (June 1, 2011). "Report Finds Japan Underestimated Tsunami Danger". New York Times.
  10. ^ Lost Iridium-192 Source
  11. ^ Investigation of an accidental Exposure of radiotherapy patients in Panama - International Atomic Energy Agency
  12. ^ a b c d e Johnston, Robert (September 23, 2007). "Deadliest radiation accidents and other events causing radiation casualties". Database of Radiological Incidents and Related Events.
  13. ^ Samuel Upton Newtan. Nuclear War I and Other Major Nuclear Disasters of the 20th Century 2007, pp. 237–240.
  14. ^ a b Timeline: Nuclear plant accidents BBC News, 11 July 2006.
  15. ^ a b Strengthening the Safety of Radiation Sources Archived 2009-06-08 at WebCite p. 14. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "rad" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  16. ^ The Worst Nuclear Disasters
  17. ^ Palomares Incident, January 17, 1966 TIME magazine.
  18. ^ The radioactive leak in Ascó was a hundred times greater than declared. El Pais.
  19. ^ "IAEA Report". In Focus: Chernobyl. Retrieved 2008-05-31.
  20. ^ Benjamin K. Sovacool. The costs of failure: A preliminary assessment of major energy accidents, 1907–2007, Energy Policy 36 (2008), p. 1806.
  21. ^ Benjamin K. Sovacool. A Critical Evaluation of Nuclear Power and Renewable Electricity in Asia, Journal of Contemporary Asia, Vol. 40, No. 3, August 2010, p. 396.
  22. ^ a b Benjamin K. Sovacool. A Critical Evaluation of Nuclear Power and Renewable Electricity in Asia, Journal of Contemporary Asia, Vol. 40, No. 3, August 2010, p. 393.
  23. ^ Perhaps the Worst, Not the First TIME magazine, May 12, 1986.
  24. ^ McInroy, James F. (1995), "A true measure of plutonium exposure: the human tissue analysis program at Los Alamos" (PDF), Los Alamos Science, 23: 235–255
  25. ^ "Father of nine killed in uranium poisoning accident". The North Adams Transcript. 1964-07-27. Retrieved 2015-01-13.
  26. ^ a b Ricks, Robert C.; et al. (2000). "REAC/TS Radiation Accident Registry: Update of Accidents in the United States" (PDF). International Radiation Protection Association. p. 6.

External links[edit]

[1] World Nuclear