Nuclear Accidents and Disasters 

Fukushima Nuclear Disaster 

Date : March 11, 2011

Location : Okuma, Fukushima, Japan

Following a devastating 9.0 magnitude earthquake and a powerful Tsunami hit the Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant suffered major damage and equipment failures which resulted in a series of explosions releasing massive amounts of radiation into the surrounding air, land, and sea. The Fukushima Disaster became a worldwide concern as the radiation affected food in Japan and was leaked into the ocean and air which traveled in small amounts to other countries.

Japanese officials struggled to contain the radiation leak because of the high levels of the radiation leaking from multiple reactors at the plant and the surrounding earthquake damage. The unpreparedness of the Japanese government officials to handle the situation sparked concerns about the safety of Nuclear Plants around the world. The situation kept getting worse following the disaster as officials were met with obstacles and failures while trying to fix the problem. Eventually the Japanese government was forced to ask for help from other countries.

Many tourists and citizens of Japan fled the country in fears of being affected by the radiation in the air, water and food. Traces of radiation were found in the US air and milk supply, prompting many Americans to buy Radiation pills. The situation in Japan is yet to be controlled and resolved as of April 20, 2011.


Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster

Date: April 26, 1986

Location: Pripyat, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union now Ukraine

Friday the 25th of April 1986 was a beautiful Spring day for the 43,000 inhabitants of  Pripyat in the Ukraine. A day that will forever engraved in their memory. That night 176 employees were at the nearby Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant were tests were being carried out on a self fueling system of the reactor, something that could save energy.  At 1:23 am the security systems are deactivated and the experiment began. Reactor four of the plant then suffered a catastrophic power increase, leading to a series of explosions in its core.

While Pripyat sleeps peacefully the floor of the Plant begins to tremble. Then the 1200 ton cover of the reactor suddenly blasts into the air. An ultra powerful stream of radioactive vapor releases uranium and graphite within hundreds of meters of the plant. By early morning the clouds are already being contaminated by the radioactive column rising 1000 meters into the sky. The plume drifted over large parts of the western Soviet Union and Europe.

In the aftermath of the accident, 237 people suffered from acute radiation sickness, of whom 31 died within the first three months. Most of these were fire and rescue workers trying to bring the accident under control, who were not fully aware of how dangerous exposure to the radiation in the smoke was. Years after the disaster it was noted that mutations and deformities in both humans and other animals had increased as a result of radiation from the disaster. The city of Pripyat is still uninhabitable to this day.


Three Mile Island Accident

Date: March 28, 1979

Location: Dauphin County, Pennsylvania USA

That frightening morning greeted many who lived around the 3 mile island nuclear plant in the days after the March 28 accident. Thousands left the area to get away from what they couldn’t see, touch, or smell, Radiation that could have been released from the plant. Then governor Dirk Thornburgh contemplated an evacuation from the moment he heard of the accident, two days later he told pregnant women and children to leave. To this day there is debate weather anyone was affected by the TMI accident.

What we do know now is a portion of the TMI unit 2 reactor core melted. At the time we heard often that a complete core meltdown would have made the area uninhabitable for decades. It all was set off by an emergency water release valve that opened and failed to close and wasn’t identified or corrected by operators. The nuclear fuel overheated and ruptured metal tubes that lead to the partial meltdown. Radiation was released but the Nuclear Regulatory Commission  said it wasn’t enough to be dangerous.

It took years and cost a billion dollars to clean up TMI 2. According the NRC the reactor is permanently shutdown and defueled.  Radioactive water decontaminated and evaporated, and some radioactive waste fuel and debre shipped offsite to be stored.  The NRC indicates the TMI accident resulted in better operator training, upgraded plant designs equipment requirements, and enhanced emergency preparedness. It’s pointed that if a similar incident were to occurred at TMI today 96 sirens would whale throughout the area to warn residents.

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