List of nuclear power accidents by country
Worldwide, many nuclear accidents have occurred since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. Two thirds of these mishaps occurred in the US. The French Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) has concluded that technical innovation cannot eliminate the risk of human errors in nuclear plant operation.
An interdisciplinary team from MIT has estimated that given the expected growth of nuclear power from 2005–2055, at least four serious nuclear power accidents would be expected in that period.
The nuclear power industry has improved the safety and performance of reactors, and has proposed new safer (but generally untested) reactor designs but there is no guarantee that the reactors will be designed, built and operated correctly. Mistakes do occur and the designers of reactors at Fukushima in Japan did not anticipate that a tsunami generated by an earthquake would disable the backup systems that were supposed to stabilize the reactor after the earthquake. According to UBS AG, the Fukushima I nuclear accidents have cast doubt on whether even an advanced economy like Japan can master nuclear safety. Catastrophic scenarios involving terrorist attacks are also conceivable. An interdisciplinary team from MIT has estimated that given the expected growth of nuclear power from 2005–2055, at least four serious nuclear accidents would be expected in that period. To date, there have been five serious accidents (core damage) in the world since 1970 (one at Three Mile Island in 1979; one at Chernobyl in 1986; and three at Fukushima-Daiichi in 2011), corresponding to the beginning of the operation of generation II reactors. This is an average of one serious accident every eight years.
Globally, there have been at least 99 (civilian and military) recorded nuclear power plant accidents from 1952 to 2009 (defined as incidents that either resulted in the loss of human life or more than US$50,000 of property damage, the amount the US federal government uses to define nuclear energy accidents that must be reported), totaling US$20.5 billion in property damages. Property damage costs include destruction of property, emergency response, environmental remediation, evacuation, lost product, fines, and court claims. Because nuclear power plants are large and complex, accidents on site tend to be relatively expensive.
The 1979 Three Mile Island accident in Pennsylvania was caused by a series of failures in secondary systems at the reactor, which allowed radioactive steam to escape and resulted in the partial core meltdown of one of two reactors at the site, making it the most significant accident in U.S. history.
The world's worst nuclear accident has been the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in the Ukraine, one of two accidents that has been rated as a level 7 (the highest) event on the International Nuclear Event Scale. Note that the Chernobyl disaster may have scored an 8 or 9, if the scale continued. The accident occurred at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant after an unsafe systems test led to a rupture of the reactor vessel and a series of steam explosions that destroyed reactor number four. The radioactivity plume spread to the surrounding city of Pripyat and covered extensive portions of Europe with traces of radioactivity, leaving reindeer in Northern Europe and sheep in portions of England unfit for human consumption. A 30 kilometres (19 mi) "Zone of alienation" has been formed around the reactor.
At least 57 accidents have occurred since the Chernobyl disaster, and over 56 nuclear accidents have occurred in the USA. Relatively few accidents have involved fatalities.
Note that not all ratings are final as Cancer and Uncounted/Hidden results may have/will occur.
|3:07 p.m. Friday, December 12, 1952||CRL, Ontario, Canada||The NRX accident. A hydrogen explosion occurred in the reactor core due to a cascade of malfunctions and operator errors. The world's first major nuclear reactor accident.||0||See NRX accident|
|May 24, 1958||CRL, Ontario, Canada||The NRU accident. A fuel rod caught fire and broke when removed, then dispersed fission products and alpha-emitting particles in the reactor building.||0||See NRU accident.|
|November 1978||WR-1 Reactor at Pinawa, Manitoba, Canada||LOCA loss of coolant accident. 2,739 litres of coolant oil leaked, most of it into the Winnipeg River. The repair took several weeks for workers to complete.||0||Unknown.|
|August 1, 1983||Pickering nuclear Reactor 2, Pickering, Ontario, Canada||LOCA loss of coolant accident. Pressure tube, that holds the fuel bundles, ruptured due to hydriding. All four reactors re-tubed with new materials (Zr-2.5%Nb) over ten years.||0||1 Billion dollars.|
|March 1986||Bruce nuclear Reactor 2, Bruce County, Ontario, Canada||LOCA Loss of coolant accident. Pressure tube rupture during pressurizing test (reactor shut down). Pressure tube holds the fuel bundles.||0||Unknown.|
|August 2, 1992||Pickering nuclear Reactor 1, Pickering, Ontario, Canada||A Heavy water leak of 2300 trillion becquerels of radioactive tritium into Lake Ontario, resulting in increased levels of tritium in Toronto drinking water .||0||Unknown.|
|December 10, 1994||Pickering nuclear Reactor 2, Pickering, Ontario, Canada||LOCA loss of coolant accident. A spill of 185 tonnes of heavy water. The Emergency Core Cooling System was used to prevent a meltdown.||0||Unknown.|
|June 11, 2002||Bruce nuclear Reactor 6, Bruce B station. Bruce County, Ontario, Canada||Pressure tube and calandria tube damage during a channel maintenance procedure, required replacement of the 2 tubes.||0||Unknown.|
|December 21, 2009||Darlington nuclear station. Clarington, Ontario, Canada||Around 200,000 litres of water with trace amounts of radioactive isotope tritium coming from a storage tank mistakenly released by workers into Lake Ontario, representing 0.1% of the monthly allowed amounts of tritium for this power plant. .||0||Unknown.|
|March 14, 2011||Pickering nuclear Plant A Pickering, Ontario, Canada||A leak of 73 cubic metres (73,000 litres) of demineralized water into Lake Ontario from a failed pump seal. There was negligible risk to the public according to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.||0||Unknown.|
|17 Oct 1969||Saint-Laurent-des-Eaux, France||50 kg of uranium dioxide melted inside of the A1 nuclear reactor of Saint-Laurent-des-Eaux, during a refueling operation||0||Unknown (likely far less than the 13 Mar 1980 accident)||4|
|25 Jul 1979||Saclay, France||Radioactive fluids escape into drains designed for ordinary wastes, seeping into the local watershed at the Saclay BL3 Reactor||0||5|
|13 Mar 1980||Loir-et-Cher, France||A malfunctioning cooling system fuses fuel elements together at the Saint Laurent A2 reactor, ruining the fuel assembly and forcing an extended shutdown||0||22||4|
|14 Apr 1984||Bugey, France||Electrical cables fail at the command center of the Bugey Nuclear Power Plant and force a complete shutdown of one reactor||0||2|
|21 May 1986||Normandy, France||Pipe maintenance at a fuel reprocessing plant at La Hague released a radioactive solution to which three welders and two plant workers were exposed.||0||5|
|12 Apr 1987||Tricastin, France||Tricastin fast breeder reactor leaks coolant, sodium and uranium hexachloride, injuring seven workers and contaminating water supplies||0||50|
|27 Dec 1999||Blayais, France||An unexpectedly strong storm floods the Blayais Nuclear Power Plant, forcing an emergency shutdown after injection pumps and containment safety systems fail from water damage||0||55||2|
|21 Jan 2002||Manche, France||Control systems and safety valves fail after improper installation of condensers, forcing a two-month shutdown||0||102|
|16 May 2004||Cattenom-2, Lorraine, France||Sub-standard electrical cables at the Cattenom-2 nuclear reactor cause a fire in an electricity funnel, damaging safety systems ||0||12||1|
|13 Jul 2008||Tricastin, France||Dozens of litres of wastewater contaminated with uranium are accidentally poured on the ground and runoff into a nearby river||0||7||1|
|9 Aug 2009||Gravelines, France||Assembly system fails to properly eject spent fuel rods from the Gravelines Nuclear Power Plant, causing the fuel rods to jam and the defueling operation to be suspended||0||2||1|
|5 Apr 2012||Penly, France||Fire on a primary pump of the second reactor, followed by a small radioactive leak inside the pump||0||?||1|
2006 US$ million)
|4 May 1986||Hamm-Uentrop, Germany||Operator actions to dislodge damaged fuel elements at the thorium high-temperature reactor release excessive radioactivity to 4 km2 surrounding the facility||0||267|
|17 Dec 1987||Hessen, Germany||Stop valve fails at Biblis Nuclear Power Plant and contaminates local area||0||13|
|Nov 24, 1989||Greifswald, Germany||A near core meltdown occurs at Greifswald Nuclear Power Plant. Three out of six cooling water pumps were switched off for a test. A fourth pump broke down and control of the reactor was lost; 10 fuel elements were damaged||0||443|
|4 May 1987||Kalpakkam, India||Fast Breeder Test Reactor at Kalpakkam refuelling accident that ruptures the reactor core, resulting in a two-year shutdown||0||300|
|10 Sep 1989||Tarapur, Maharashtra, India||Operators at the Tarapur Atomic Power Station find that the reactor had been leaking radioactive iodine at more than 700 times normal levels. Repairs to the reactor take more than a year||0||78|
|13 May 1992||Tarapur, Maharashtra, India||A malfunctioning tube causes the Tarapur Atomic Power Station to release 12 curies of radioactivity||0||2|
|31 Mar 1993||Bulandshahr, Uttar Pradesh, India||The Narora Atomic Power Station suffers a fire at two of its steam turbine blades, damaging the heavy water reactor and almost leading to a meltdown||0||220|
|2 Feb 1995||Kota, Rajasthan, India||The Rajasthan Atomic Power Station leaks radioactive helium and heavy water into the Rana Pratap Sagar River, necessitating a two-year shutdown for repairs||N/A||280|
|22 Oct 2002||Kalpakkam, India||Almost 100 kg radioactive sodium at a fast breeder reactor leaks into a purification cabin, ruining a number of valves and operating systems||0||30|
|8 Jan 1975||Mihama, Japan||Radioactivity released from Mihama nuclear power plant.|
|2 Nov 1978||Fukushima No1, Japan||Japan's first criticality accident at No 3 reactor, this accident was hidden for 29 years and reported on 22 Mar 2007|
|2 Apr 1979||Tokaimura, Japan||Two workers suffer radioactive contamination at the Tokaimura complex.|
|24-28 Jan 1981||Tsuruga, Japan||29 workers were exposed to radiation.|
|8 Mar 1981||Tsuruga, Japan||56 workers were exposed to about 45 tonnes of radioactive waste which spilled from storage tanks at the Tsuruga Nuclear Power Plant. The waste was cleaned up with buckets and mops, and was also discharged into Tsuruga Bay via the town sewer. At the time, the plant had recorded 30 malfunctions since it was commissioned in 1970.|
|31 Aug 1985||Fukushima, Japan||Fire at Fukushima nuclear power plant during routine shutdown.|
|23 Jun 1986||Tokaimura, Japan||Twelve people suffer "slight" plutonium contamination while inspecting a storeroom.|
|8 Feb 1991||Fukui, Japan||Radioactivity was released from Fukui nuclear power plant after an emergency release valve failed. Officials said the release "did not pose a threat to humans or the environment."|
|22 Feb 1993||Fukushima, Japan||High-pressure steam accident kills one worker and injures two others.||1|
|December 1995||Tsuruga, Japan||The fast breeder Monju Nuclear Power Plant sodium leak. State-run operator Donen was found to have concealed videotape footage that showed extensive damage to the reactor.|
|11 March 1997||Tokaimura, Japan||The Tokaimura nuclear reprocessing plant fire and explosion. 37 workers were exposed to low doses of radiation. Donen later acknowledged it had initially suppressed information about the fire.|
|18 Jun 1999||Shiga, Japan||A fuel loading system malfunctioned and set off an uncontrolled nuclear reaction and explosion.|
|30 Sept 1999||Tokaimura, Japan||The criticality accident at the Tokai fuel fabrication facility. Hundreds of people were exposed to radiation and two workers later died. This is not a nuclear power plant accident, however.||2||4|
|2002||Onagawa, Japan||Two workers were exposed to a small amount of radiation and suffered minor burns during a fire.|
|9 Aug 2004||Mihama, Japan||A steam explosion at the Mihama-3 station; the subsequent investigation revealed a serious lack in systematic inspection in Japanese nuclear plants, which led to a massive inspection program.||5||1|
|2006||Fukushima No1, Japan||A small amount of radioactive steam was released at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant and it escaped the compound.|
|16 Jul 2007||Kashiwazaki, Japan||a severe earthquake (measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale) hit the region where Tokyo Electric's Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant is located and radioactive water spilled into the Sea of Japan; as of March 2009, all of the reactors remain shut down for damage verification and repairs; the plant with seven units was the largest single nuclear power station in the world.|
|Dec 2009||Hamaoka, Japan||Leakage accident of radioactive water. 34 workers were exposed to radiation|
|11 Mar 2011||Fukushima No1, Japan||The world's second INES 7 accident. A magnitude 9.0 earthquake and associated tsunami triggered cooling problems at Fukushima 1 & 2 stations with several reactors. Hydrogen explosions cause structural damage, and loss of coolant results in meltdowns in three units. Radioactive steam was released into the atmosphere, and highly radioactive water spilled into the ocean through utility trenches. Some immediate injuries resulted. 117 workers received committed effective doses above 100 mSv, and 6 workers received doses above the emergency dose limit of 250 mSv.||7|
|18 October 2011||Karachi, Pakistan||The KANUPP Karachi nuclear power plant imposed a seven-hour emergency after heavy water leaked from a feeder pipe to the reactor. The leakage took place during a routine maintenance shut down, and the emergency was lifted seven hours later, after the affected area was isolated.||0||N/A|
|1992||Leningrad, Russian Federation||An RBMK reactor released a radioactive cloud which traveled over north-eastern Europe. Russian officials declared that they saw no immediate danger posed by the event.|
|1997||Leningrad, Russian Federation||Worker Sergei Kharitonov revealed photographs of cracked walls and groundwater seepage at a nuclear power plant waste storage facility. He also revealed that the plant has been dumping 300 litres of contaminated water into the Gulf of Finland annually "for years".||0||N/A|
|April 1998||Leningrad, Russian Federation||An RBMK reactor was shut down following the discovery of a radiation leak.|
|4 October 1999||Wolsung, South Korea||22 workers employed by the Korea Electric Power Corp were exposed to radioactive liquid and gas at the Wolsung-3 reactor. Two workers were initially exposed when approximately 12 gallons of heavy water leaked during pipe maintenance. A further 20 workers were exposed during clean-up operations.|
|26 Apr 1986||Pripyat, Ukraine||Steam explosion and meltdown (see Chernobyl disaster) necessitating the evacuation of 300,000 people from Pripyat and dispersing radioactive material across Europe (see Chernobyl disaster effects)||Fewer than 50 directly, eventually as many as 4000||6700|
|October 1999||Pripyat, Ukraine||Metal structures broke, causing a gamma ray source to fall out of its container and expose two workers to "high" levels of radiation. The reactor was subsequently shut down until November.|
|Spring, 1957||Windscale, UK||Radioactivity release contaminated about 800 farms and introduced Strontium 90 to domestic milk supply. Milk was sold to the public without any warnings.|
|8 Oct 1957||Windscale, UK||Fire ignites plutonium piles, contaminating surrounding dairy farms.||0||78||5|
|May 1967||Scotland, United Kingdom||Partial meltdown at Dumfries and Galloway. Graphite debris partially blocked a fuel channel causing a fuel element to melt and catch fire at the Chapelcross nuclear power station. Contamination was confined to the reactor core. The core was repaired and restarted in 1969, operating until the plant's shutdown in 2004.|
|Sep 1996||Dounreay, Scotland, UK||A fuel reprocessing plant was shut down after elevated radiation levels were detected in waste-water discharged to the sea.|
|Feb 1998||Sellafield, UK||Two workers exposed to radiation due to a leak from a damaged bag containing a nuclear filter.|
|19 Apr 2005||Sellafield, UK||20 tonnes uranium and 160 kg plutonium leak from a cracked pipe at the Thorp nuclear fuel reprocessing plant||0||65||3|
|November 29, 1955||Idaho Falls, Idaho, US||Power excursion with partial core meltdown at National Reactor Testing Station's EBR-1 Experimental Breeder Reactor I||0||5|
|July 26, 1959||Simi Valley, California, USA||Partial core meltdown at Santa Susana Field Laboratory’s Sodium Reactor Experiment||0||32|
|January 3, 1961||Idaho Falls, Idaho, US||Explosion at National Reactor Testing Station's SL-1 Stationary Low-Power Reactor Number One||3||22|
|October 5, 1966||Monroe, Michigan, USA||Sodium cooling system malfunctions at Enrico Fermi demonstration breeder reactor causing partial core meltdown||0||19|
|August 11, 1973||Palisades, Michigan, USA||Steam generator leak causes manual shutdown of pressurized water reactor||0||10|
|March 22, 1975||Browns Ferry, Alabama, USA||Fire burns for seven hours and damages more than 1600 control cables for three nuclear reactors at Browns Ferry, disabling core cooling systems||0||240|
|November 5, 1975||Brownsville, Nebraska, USA||Hydrogen gas explosion damages the Cooper Nuclear Facility’s Boiling Water Reactor and an auxiliary building||0||13|
|June 10, 1977||Waterford, Connecticut, USA||Hydrogen gas explosion damages three buildings and forces shutdown of Millstone-1 Pressurized Water Reactor||0||15|
|February 4, 1979||Surry, Virginia, USA||Surry Unit 2 shut down in response to failing tube bundles in steam generators||0||12|
|March 28, 1979||Middletown, Pennsylvania, US||Loss of coolant and partial core meltdown, see Three Mile Island accident and Three Mile Island accident health effects||0||2,400|
|October 17, 1981||Buchanan, New York, USA||100,000 gallons of Hudson River water leaked into the Indian Point Energy Center Unit 2 containment building from the fan cooling unit, undetected by a safety device designed to detect hot water. The flooding, covering the first 9 feet of the reactor vessel, was discovered when technicians entered the building. Two pumps which should have removed the water were found to be inoperative. NRC proposed a $210,000 fine for the incident.||0||-|
|March 20, 1982||Lycoming, New York, USA||Recirculation system piping fails at Nine Mile Point Unit 1, forcing two year shutdown||0||45|
|March 25, 1982||Buchanan, New York, USA||Damage to steam generator tubes and main generator resulting in a shut down Indian Point Energy Center Unit 3 for more than a year||0||56|
|June 18, 1982||Senaca, South Carolina, USA||Feedwater heat extraction line fails at Oconee 2 Pressurised Water Reactor, damaging thermal cooling system||0||10|
|February 12, 1983||Fork River, New Jersey, USA||Oyster Creek Nuclear Power Plant fails safety inspection, forced to shut down for repairs||0||32|
|February 26, 1983||Fort Pierce, Florida, USA||Damaged thermal shield and core barrel support at St Lucie Unit 1, necessitating 13-month shutdown||0||54|
|September 15, 1984||Athens, Alabama, US||Safety violations, operator error, and design problems force six year outage at Browns Ferry Unit 2||0||110|
|March 9, 1985||Athens, Alabama, US||Instrumentation systems malfunction during start-up, which led to suspension of operations at all three Browns Ferry Units||0||1,830|
|April 11, 1986||Plymouth, Massachusetts, US||Recurring equipment problems force emergency shutdown of Boston Edison’s Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant||0||1,001|
|March 31, 1987||Delta, Pennsylvania, US||Peach Bottom units 2 and 3 shutdown due to cooling malfunctions and unexplained equipment problems||0||400|
|December 19, 1987||Lycoming, New York, US||Malfunctions force Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation to shut down Nine Mile Point Unit 1||0||150|
|September 10, 1988||Surry, Virginia, USA||Refuelling cavity seal fails and destroys internal pipe system at Surry Unit 2, forcing 12-month outage||0||9|
|March 5, 1989||Tonopah, Arizona, USA||Atmospheric dump valves fail at Palo Verde Unit 1, leading to main transformer fire and emergency shutdown||0||14|
|March 17, 1989||Lusby, Maryland, US||Inspections at Calvert Cliff Units 1 and 2 reveal cracks at pressurized heater sleeves, forcing extended shutdowns||0||120|
|November 17, 1991||Scriba, New York, USA||Safety and fire problems force shut down of the FitzPatrick nuclear reactor for 13 months||0||5|
|April 21, 1992||Southport, North Carolina, USA||NRC forces shut down of Brunswick Units 1 and 2 after emergency diesel generators fail||0||2|
|February 3, 1993||Bay City, Texas, USA||Auxiliary feed-water pumps fail at South Texas Project Units 1 and 2, prompting rapid shutdown of both reactors||0||3|
|February 27, 1993||Buchanan, New York, USA||New York Power Authority shuts down Indian Point Energy Center Unit 3 after AMSAC system fails||0||2|
|March 2, 1993||Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee, USA||Equipment failures and broken pipes cause shut down of Sequoyah Unit 1||0||3|
|December 25, 1993||Newport, Michigan, USA||Shut down of Fermi Unit 2 after main turbine experienced major failure due to improper maintenance||0||67|
|14 January 1995||Wiscasset, Maine, USA||Steam generator tubes unexpectedly crack at Maine Yankee nuclear reactor; shut down of the facility for a year||0||62|
|May 16, 1995||Salem, New Jersey, USA||Ventilation systems fail at Salem Units 1 and 2||0||34|
|February 20, 1996||, Connecticut, US||Leaking valve forces shutdown Millstone Nuclear Power Plant Units 1 and 2, multiple equipment failures found||0||254|
|September 2, 1996||Crystal River, Florida, US||Balance-of-plant equipment malfunction forces shutdown and extensive repairs at Crystal River Unit 3||0||384|
|September 5, 1996||Clinton, Illinois, USA||Reactor recirculation pump fails, prompting shut down of Clinton boiling water reactor||0||38|
|September 20, 1996||Senaca, Illinois, USA||Service water system fails and results in closure of LaSalle Units 1 and 2 for more than 2 years||0||71|
|September 9, 1997||Bridgman, Michigan, USA||Ice condenser containment systems fail at Cook Units 1 and 2||0||11|
|May 25, 1999||Waterford, Connecticut, USA||Steam leak in feed-water heater causes manual shutdown and damage to control board annunciator at the Millstone Nuclear Power Plant||0||7|
|September 29, 1999||Lower Alloways Creek, New Jersey, USA||Major Freon leak at Hope Creek Nuclear Facility causes ventilation train chiller to trip, releasing toxic gas and damaging the cooling system||0||2|
|February 16, 2002||Oak Harbor, Ohio, US||Severe corrosion of control rod forces 24-month outage of Davis-Besse reactor||0||143|
|January 15, 2003||Bridgman, Michigan, USA||A fault in the main transformer at the Donald C. Cook nuclear power plant causes a fire that damages the main generator and back-up turbines||0||10|
|June 16, 2005||Braidwood, Illinois, USA||Exelon’s Braidwood Nuclear Generating Station leaks tritium and contaminates local water supplies||0||41|
|August 4, 2005||Buchanan, New York, USA||Entergy’s Indian Point Energy Center Nuclear Plant leaks tritium and strontium into underground lakes from 1974 to 2005||30|
|March 6, 2006||Erwin, Tennessee, USA||Nuclear fuel services plant spills 35 litres of highly enriched uranium, necessitating 7-month shutdown||0||98|
|November 21, 2009||Harrisburg, Pennsylvania||Twelve workers were contaminated after radioactive dust was mobilized at the Three Mile Island plant during pipe maintenance works.||0|
|January 7, 2010||Buchanan, New York, USA||NRC inspectors reported that an estimated 600,000 gallons of mildly radioactive steam was intentionally vented after an automatic shutdown of Indian Point Energy Center Unit 2. The levels of tritium in the steam were below those allowable by NRC safety standards.||0||0|
|February 1, 2010||Vernon, Vermont, US||Deteriorating underground pipes from the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant leak radioactive tritium into groundwater supplies||0||700|
|June 24, 2013||Hanford, Washington, US||Deteriorating storage tanks leak 1 million gallons of reactor byproducts into the Columbia River||0||0|
- Lists of nuclear disasters and radioactive incidents
- List of nuclear and radiation fatalities by country
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