Nuke Attack – World’s Worst Nuclear Disasters
If Japan escapes without any scars from its near nuclear disaster, it will successfully dodge a bullet that several other countries have not. Nuclear power is well known to have a chequered and marred history. Even though it provides us with clean, carbon-free energy, it has revealed its ugly and dangerous side with leaked radiations and near meltdowns. For the worst nuclear disasters recorded in the history from Three Mile Island to Chernobyl, read on to know more about these terrifying nuke accidents.
The International Atomic Energy Agency is the intergovernmental association which heads scientific co-operation in the field of nuclear science. This international agency judges any nuclear accidents or leaks based on a scale – the International Nuclear Event Scale that has a range of 1 to 7. Most serious nuclear disasters are rated 7, which are referred to as “major accidents,” whereas 1 is known to be a minor “anomaly.” Here are a few such nuclear disasters which have left a horrifying imprint on the history of mankind.
Chernobyl in Soviet (Now Known as Ukraine) – April 26, 1986
INES Rating – 7
This nuclear disaster is widely recognised as the worst accident ever recorded in nuclear power history. This is the only nuclear mishap which has been rated as a “major accident” by the IAEA. While performing a routine test, the reactor’s safety mechanisms were turned off. This was to stop any power disruption to the nuclear reactor. The reactor was powered down to 25% of its capacity. Then, the problems started to emerge.
Due to their stubborn and hasty nature, a few of the decisions regarding the nuclear facility had loopholes. As expected, those decisions seriously compromised the safety of the facility. The cooling system of a nuclear waste tank containing 70 tons of harmful radioactive elements failed. Hence, the temperature began to rise, which lead to an explosion (non-nuclear) of dried waste.
No immediate casualties were reported from the dried waste explosion, although the IAEA traced that there had been significant radioactive material release into the surrounding environment. This radioactive cloud scattered to hundreds of miles into the northeast. 10,000 people were evacuated from the affected site after health reports surfaced declaring people’s skin falling off! It is estimated that the radiation might have caused 200 deaths due to cancer.
Three Mile Island in United States – March 28, 1979
INES Rating – 5
The worst nuclear disaster in the United States happened at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant, which is located near Harrisburg, Penn. This accident started with a plumbing breakdown. When a small valve opened to release pressure in the nuclear reactor, it malfunctioned and did not close. This lead to drainage of the cooling water and the core started to overheat. The systems monitoring the reactor’s conditions provided incorrect information. Hence, the facility operators shut down the emergency water which could have cooled the core.
As the core started to overheat, it gradually reached 4,300 degrees Fahrenheit, the plant had a near meltdown. But the full meltdown was averted by the plant designers who were instructed to turn on the supply of water. The reactor’s conditions were stabilized. According to the NRC, there were no deaths due to the incident. The Three Mile Island nuclear accident left a huge impact on the American people’s attitude towards nuclear power.
Cut to the Present!
Fukoshima (Daichi), Japan – March 11, 2011
An 8.9 magnitude massive earthquake and the following tsunami lead to disruptions in the cooling system of the nuclear plant. This plant is located along Japan’s northeast coastline. This accident triggered several explosions in the different reactors at the complex. This has lead to a massive evacuation in the area.
Is nuclear power a boon or bane?We know the environment-friendly advantages of nuclear power. But, as the above examples show, if something goes wrong, the consequences can be devastating. So, what is your opinion about nuclear power? Please add your comments.