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To Open The Sky

The Front Pages of Christopher P. Winter

Accidents Involving Nuclear Energy

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Incidents and Accidents

The table below presents a chronological list of over 940 color-coded symbols, each of which links to the description of a single Incident. The central code in each symbol identifies the country responsible, following the two-letter ISO country codes. The number at upper left is intended to give the INES level of severity for each incident. The number at lower right indicates the number of people affected, on a sort of logarithmic scale: "1" means 10 or fewer people; "2" means 11 to 100, and so on. Finally, you'll see the symbol text in large and small sizes. These designate major and minor incidents, respectively. If there are deaths or serious injuries, I rate an incident major. Release of lots of radiation to the outside might also qualify as major, even with no immediate casualties. An example is the drying up of Lake Karachai in Siberia, which allowed years of rad-waste dumping to drift over the countryside as dust.

The great majority of these events are minor in effect: Contamination of a single building, with no personnel exposed, or a reactor scram with no damage. But the thing to remember is that a pattern of minor problems often leads to a major problem, and certainly suggests that some changes ought to be made. That is why I've sought to include as many as I can. The record of nuclear power is replete with such problems, and while things are getting better, there is no justification for complacency.

Two caveats: INES (International Nuclear Event Scale) levels really apply only to reactor incidents, and are not always published. Neither is the number of people affected always available. What it comes down to is, in most cases I've had to guess at these numbers.

The seven INES levels are color-coded, and I reproduce those colors here. But the eleven color codes in the chronological chart have a different purpose: They represent the type of incident. For example, red means a reactor accident; olive drab stands for military weapons facility incidents. There's really no good way to convey the meaning of these symbols purely in words. For a full explanation, use the keys below.


Chronological Array of Event Link Symbols
This table is by no means a complete list. Also, note that I picked the INES ratings and affected-population numbers out of thin air, since few sources give this information. Any exceptions are noted in the incident descriptions.
1942 1US0                      
1944 4US1                      
1945 4US1 4US1 4US1                  
1946 4US1                      
1949 4US1 4US1 4CA1                  
1950 4US0 4US0 4US0 5US2 4US0              
1951 4US1 4US1                    
1952 4US1 4US1 6CA2 4RU2                
1953 4RU1 3RU1 3US4 4US4 4US4 4UK4            
1954 3US0 6US3 2US0 5US0 2US0              
1955 3US0 1US0 3RU0 4RU1 5US0              
1956 4US1 4US1 3US1 1US0 4US1 2US0 5US3 3US0 4RU2 4RU2    
1957 3US0 3US2 4RU1 3US0 4US0 3US0 5US2 6RU6 5UK3 4US1 1US0  
1958 4RU1 2US0 3US1 3US0 2US1 4US2 5US2 1US0 2US2 5CA3 3US2 3US0
5RU4 4YU1 4US1 3US2 3US1 4US1            
1959 2US0 1US0 1US0 3US2 4US2 4US3 4US2 4US1 3US1 1US0 3US1 4US2
1960 3RU1 3RU1 1US0 1US0 2FR0 2US0 1US0 4US4 4US1 2US0 4RU3 3US1
1961 3CH1 3UK1 5US3 3US1 4US2 4US2 2US0 4RU2 4US1 3US0 4RU3 3RU1
2US0 1US0 1US0 4US4 4US2              
1962 3MX1 2US0 4RU2 4CZ3 3US1 1US0 1US0 3US0 3RU2 3US2 3US3 2RU0
1US0 3US2 5US3 2US1 1US0 2US0            
1963 3CN1 2RU0 4RU1 3US1 4US2 3US1 3US4 3US1 2RU0      
1964 3DE1 4US2 1US0 3US1 3US0 4US1            
1965 3US1 4US4 4US4 4US4 3US0 4US2 3US0 3US2 2RU1 3US1 3RU1 3BE1
1966 5US3 2US0 3UK0 3US0 2UK0 4US0 3US0 5RU2 4RU2      
1967 3US1 6RU5 4US3 3US0 3RU2 2FR0 3US0 1US0 4RU0      
1968 3US1 5US2 1US0 2US0 3RU1 4RU2 3AR1 1US0 4US2 4RU2 3RU2 2US0
2FR0 4US0 4US0 3RU1 3RU2              
1969 3US2 4CH0 2RU0 4US0 2US0 6US5 1RU0 4FR0 2RU0 3US0 4CN0  
1970 3AU1 1UK0 3US0 3US3 4RU2 2US0 4RU2 3FR0 1US0 1US0 3RU0 2UK1
3UK1 3US1 3US0 4US1 4US2              
1971 3US0 3JP1 3US1 3RU1 3US0 3RU1 4US0 1US0        
1972 3BG1 2US0 4RU1 4US0 3US0 3US0 4US0 3RU1 4RU2 4US0    
1973 3US0 1UK0 1US0 3US0 3US1 3US0 2RU0 4RU2 3RU1 2RU0 3UK1  
1974 4US3 3RU0 2US0 3RU1 1US0 3UK0 3US0 3US0 3US0 3US1 1CH0 3JP0
3US0 2SE0 3RU0 2US1                
1975 1US0 3US1 3AR1 3JP0 3US0 4US0 1US0 3US2 3US0 4US1 3RU0 3DE0
3US0 1US0                    
1976 3US1 3SK1 1CZ0 1US0 3US0 3RU1 3RU1 1RU0 3US3      
1977 3US1 2AR1 3AR1 3US1 4CZ0 2BG0 1US0 3RU0 3US1 1UK0 3US0 3RU2
4RU0 1US0 3UK0                  
1978 3AR1 1US0 3RU0 3DZ1 2US1 1US1 3US0 2DE0 3RU0 2US0 4RU2 3RU1
1979 3US0 3AR1 3FR1 5US6 2JP1 3FR0 3SE0 2US0 2US0 3US1 3US0 3US0
3US0 3US0 3FR1 5US0 3US3 1US0 3US0 2AU0 2DE0 5JP0 4CH0 2UK0
1980 3FR1 3CN1 3US1 2US0 4UK0 1FR0 4FR0 3US0 3DE0 3US0 3US0 1US0
3FR0 4RU1 2UK0 3US0 4US2 2US0 1FR0 3US0 2US0 3UK0 1US0 2US0
1981 3AR1 1FR0 3US0 3US1 2US0 1RU0 3JP2 2FR0 3CN1 3US2 3JP3 1UK0
3US0 4US2 1FR0 2US0 3US0 3US2 3US0 3JP2 3US1 3US0 4RU1 3RU0
4RU2 4UK3 3RU0 3US0 2US0 2US0            
1982 3AR1 3US0 3US2 2US0 4RU2 3NO1 2US0 1US1 4US2 1US1 3US0 2US4
1983 3US0 2US0 1RU0 2US0 3UK3 1US0 3RU0 4RU2 4AR0 2DE0 5US5 3CA0
3AR1 1FR0 5RU5 3UK0 4MX3              
1984 3AR1 4CZ2 1US0 1BG0 3MO1 1US0 3US0 1US0 2US0 3SK0 3US0 3RU2
3US2 3DE0 3FR0 3RU0 3RU0 2US0 2HU0 3RU0 5US0      
1985 3CN1 3CN1 3CN1 3US1 3US1 1DE0 3US1 4US0 1UK0 1UK0 3RU2 1??0
3CA1 4RU2 2DE0 2JP0 3US1 1UK0 2US0 3RU0 2US0 2US0    
1986 3CN1 3UK1 3US3 2RU0 3UK0 4UK3 3UK1 3US0 3US1 7RU6 3US0 3DE0
3US0 3FR1 3UK1 3US0 3US1 2US0 2JP2 3US0 2FR0 4RU0 3US0 4RU0
3US0 3US1 3US0 4US5                
1987 3CN1 1UK0 3US1 3AU0 3FR0 3US0 3UK0 3FR0 3AR1 3RU0 2UK0 5BR3
2UK0 3US0 2CA0 3DE0 3FR0 3US0            
1988 4US3 3CN1 3UK1 3UK0 4RU0 2SK0 1US0 1LT0 1US0 3FR0 3US1 1ES0
1US0 1NL0 1ES0 5RU3 5AR3 1RU0 1RU0 3US0 3LT0 2UK1 1JP0 1DE0
1UA0 1US0 3US1 3UK0 3FR0 3RU0 1RU0 3US0 3ES0 3UK0 1DE0 2FR0
1BE0 3US0 2US0                  
1989 3CN1 3CN1 3FR0 3US0 3US0 3US1 3SV1 1RU0 3US0 3CA0 3FR0 3RU2
3SK0 3SK0 2DE0 2UA0 3UA0 4RU2 3US1 1DE0 3RU0 2DE0 1US0 2SE0
2US0 2UK0 3FR0 4US0 3US0 2CA1 1US0 1LI0 1US0 2FI0 2FI0 3US0
1US0 3US1 1DE0 1US0 3US0 3UK0 3SE1 1UK0 3US1 3RU0 2JP0 3US0
2US0 3BG0 3DE0 3US0 1IN0              
1990 3US0 3CA0 2FR0 3CA1 3US0 1CA0 3US1 3BE0 3UK0 1SK0 3FR0 1UA0
2US0 3FR0 2FR0 3BU0 2ES0 3US0 3IS1 2FR0 2DE0 1US0 3UA0 3FR0
3SK0 3US0 3BE0 1RU0 1IN0 1JP0 3FR0 3FR1 3ES2 2RU0 2RU0  
1991 3US1 2UK1 2JP0 3JP0 3US0 1CA0 3DE0 3FR0 3FI0 2US0 1RU0 2FR0
3FR0 1CA0 1DE0 2RU0 3JP0 3HU0 3FR0 3UK0 3BU0 3RU0 1IN0 2US0
3JP0 2DE0 2SE0 2SE0 1BU0 3RU0 1UA0 3UA0 1SE0 1UA0 1RU0 1BE0
3UK0 1FR0 3RU0 2US0 2UA0 3RU0 3RU0 3US0 3RU0 3JP0 1RU0 3RU0
1RU0 3UA0 3RU0 4RU1 3RU0 3RU0 1RU0 1RU0 2RU0 3RU0 2RU0  
3IN0 2US1 1DE0 3RU0 1RU0 3CA0 3BU0 3SE0 1UA0 3RU0 2AR0 1RU0
3RU0 3RU0 1RU0 3LI0 3RU0 3RU0 2RU0 1RU0 3RU0 1LI0 2UK2 1RU0
3US0 2IN0 3RU0 1RU0 2US0 3RU0 3RU0 3RU0 1UK0 3US0 2RU0 1RU0
3RU0 3LI0 3FR1 1FR0 2SE0 2US0 2RU0 3FR0 1FR0 2RU0 2FR0 2DE0
3CN1 3US1 3FR1 3US2 3VN1 3CN2 4US2 2RU0        
1993 3RU1 3BU0 3US0 3UA0 4FR1 2FR0 3RU0 3CA0 3JP1 2US0 3US0 3TW2
3RU0 3UA0 3IN0 3US1 3RU0 2US0 3US0 2UK0 3US0 3RU0 2HU0 3RU0
2FR0 1FR0                    
1994 3US0 3US1 2RU0 1FR0 3RU0 3UA0 2RU0 3FR1 3US1 3CN0 2US0 1JP0
1CN0 3RU0 2CN0 2RU0 3RU0 3US1 3RU0 3EE1 2LI0 3CA0    
1995 3FR1 3FR1 3US1 1SO0 2US0 3SE0 3US0 3US2 3US1 3US1 3RU0 3PO0
3UK0 1DE0 3BU0 3JP0 3US0              
1996 3FR0 3RU0 3US1 3US1 3US0 3SK0 3US0 3US0 3US1 3UA1 3CR2 3US0
3DE0 3LI0 2US0 3US1 3BE0 3RU0 1SE0 2US0 3US0 2US0 2US0 2US0
1997 2RU0 2JP0 1DE0 1US0 2US0 2FR0 2US0 3JP2 1JP0 2US0 3US1 3FR0
3JP0 3US0 3NE0 3US1 1US0 2RU2 3DE0 3US0 3RU1 2BE0 3US0 3JP0
3RU1 4RU2                    
1998 4ES0 3US1 3RU1 3US0 3US0 3US0 3US0 2US0 3US1      
1999 3TR2 3PE1 3US0 2US0 3US0 2US1 3JP0 0US0 3US5 3RU1 4JP3  
2000 3TH2 2US0 3EG2 3UK0 3US0 4US3 2JP0 3RU3 3RU1 3RU1    
2001 3PO1 2US2 3PO1 1US0 3RU1 3UK0 3PA2 3PO1 3RU1 3RU1 3JP0 3RU1
2002 2JP1 3US0 3US0 4US0 3CN2 3US0 3RU0 3RU1 3UK0 3US0    
2003 3RU0 3IR0 3CN2 3US1 4CN4 3US1 3US1 3US0 3RU0 3US0 3RU1 3RU0
2JP0 3US0 3US0 3RU0 3RU0              
2004 3US1 2US0 3JP1 1UK0 3JP2 2US0 3RU1 3RU0 3US1 3US1 1RU0 3RU1
2005 3US2 3UK0 4FR2 3FR0 1US0 4CL1            
2006 4UK1 1US0 1US0 4BE1 1US0 1US0 1US0 3US1 1JP0 4SN1 3UK4 1US0
2007 3UK0 3JP0 1US0                  
2008 1FR0 1FR0                    
2009 1US0 1DE0                    
2010 3US0 3IN1 3US0                  
2011 7JP2                      
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This page was last modified on 4 March 2023.