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List of nuclear and radiation accidents by death toll

There have been several nuclear and radiation accidents involving fatalities, including nuclear power plant accidents, nuclear submarine accidents, and radiotherapy incidents.

List of accidents

Fatalities Incident Date Details
disputed Kyshtym disaster September 29, 1957 Death count unknown, estimates range from 50 to more than 8,000
45 Chernobyl disaster April 26, 1986 [1]
disputed Windscale fire October 8, 1957 [2]
17 Instituto Oncologico Nacional of Panama August 2000 – March 2001 Patients receiving treatment for prostate cancer and cancer of the cervix receive lethal doses of radiation.[3][4]
13 Radiotherapy accident in Costa Rica 1996 114 patients received an overdose of radiation from a cobalt-60 source that was being used for radiotherapy.[5]
11 Radiotherapy accident in Zaragoza, Spain December 1990 Cancer patients receiving radiotherapy; 27 patients were injured.[6]
10 Soviet submarine K-431 reactor accident August 10, 1985 49 people suffered radiation injuries.[7]
10 Columbus radiotherapy accident 1974–1976 88 injuries from cobalt-60 source.[4][8]
9 Soviet submarine K-27 reactor accident May 24, 1968 83 people were injured.[4]
8 Soviet submarine K-19 reactor accident July 4, 1961 More than 30 people were over-exposed to radiation.[9]
8 Radiation accident in Morocco March 1984 [10]
7 Houston radiotherapy accident 1980 [4][8]
5 Lost radiation source, Baku, Azerbaijan, USSR October 5, 1982 13 injuries.[4]
4 Goiânia accident September 13, 1987 249 people received serious radiation contamination from lost radiotherapy source.[11]
4 Radiation accident in Mexico City 1962
3 SL-1 accident (US Army) 1961
3 Samut Prakan radiation accident February 2000 Three deaths and ten injuries resulted when a radiation-therapy unit was dismantled.[12]
2 Tokaimura nuclear accident September 30, 1999 [13]
2 Meet Halfa, Egypt May 2000 two fatalities due to radiography accident.[14]
1 Mayapuri radiological accident, India April 2010 [12]
1 Daigo Fukuryū Maru March 1, 1954
1 Louis Slotin May 21, 1946
1 Harry Daghlian August 21, 1945 at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.
1 Cecil Kelley criticality accident December 30, 1958 at Los Alamos National Laboratory.[15]
1 Wood River Junction, Rhode Island 1964 Operator error at nuclear facility, Robert Peabody died 49 hours later
1 Constituyentes Atomic Center September 23, 1983 Malfunction INES level 4 at RA2 reactor in Argentina, operator Osvaldo Rogulich died days later.
1 San Salvador, El Salvador 1989 one fatality due to violation of safety rules at 60Co irradiation facility.[14]
1 Tammiku, Estonia 1994 one fatality from disposed 137Cs source.[14]
1 Sarov, Russia June 1997 one fatality due to violation of safety rules.[14]
A safety poster designed for engineering offices depicting the melted SL-1 reactor core.[16]

Events with disputed fatality counts

Chernobyl disaster

The abandoned city of Pripyat with the Chernobyl plant in the distance.

Estimates of the total number of deaths potentially resulting from the Chernobyl disaster vary enormously: A UNSCEAR report proposes 45 total confirmed deaths from the accident as of 2008.[1] This number includes 2 non-radiation related fatalities from the accident itself, 28 fatalities from radiation doses in the immediate following months and 15 fatalities due to thyroid cancer likely caused by iodine-131 contamination; it does not include 19 additional individuals initially diagnosed with acute radiation syndrome who had also died as of 2006, but who are not believed to have died due to radiation doses.[17] The World Health Organization (WHO) suggested in 2006 that cancer deaths could reach 4,000 among the 600,000 most heavily exposed people, a group which includes emergency workers, nearby residents, and evacuees, but excludes residents of low-contaminated areas.[18] A 2006 report, commissioned by The Greens and sponsored by the Altner Combecher Foundation, predicted 30,000 to 60,000 cancer deaths as a result of worldwide Chernobyl fallout by assuming a linear no-threshold model for very low doses.[19] A Greenpeace report puts this figure at 200,000 or more.[20] A disputed Russian publication, Chernobyl, concludes that 985,000 premature deaths occurred worldwide between 1986 and 2004 as a result of radioactive contamination from Chernobyl.[21]

Kyshtym disaster

The Kyshtym disaster, which occurred at Mayak in Russia on 29 September 1957, was rated as a level 6 on the International Nuclear Event Scale, the third most severe incident after Chernobyl and Fukushima. Because of the intense secrecy surrounding Mayak, it is difficult to estimate the death toll of Kyshtym. One book claims that "in 1992, a study conducted by the Institute of Biophysics at the former Soviet Health Ministry in Chelyabinsk found that 8,015 people had died within the preceding 32 years as a result of the accident."[22] By contrast, only 6,000 death certificates have been found for residents of the Tech riverside between 1950 and 1982 from all causes of death,[23] though perhaps the Soviet study considered a larger geographic area affected by the airborne plume. The most commonly quoted estimate is 200 deaths due to cancer, but the origin of this number is not clear. More recent epidemiological studies suggest that around 49 to 55 cancer deaths among riverside residents can be associated to radiation exposure.[23] This would include the effects of all radioactive releases into the river, 98% of which happened long before the 1957 accident, but it would not include the effects of the airborne plume that was carried north-east.[24] The area closest to the accident produced 66 diagnosed cases of chronic radiation syndrome, providing the bulk of the data about this condition.[25]

Windscale fire

At least 33 cancer fatalities (estimated by UK government)[26][2] in Windscale, United Kingdom, on October 8, 1957. The Windscale fire resulted when uranium metal fuel ignited inside plutonium production piles; surrounding dairy farms were contaminated.[26][2]

Fukushima disaster

In a 2013 report, the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) stated the overall health risks from the Fukushima disaster to be far lower than those of Chernobyl.[27] There have been no observed or expected deterministic effects. In pregnancies, there has been no expected increase in spontaneous abortions, miscarriages, perinatal mortality, birth defects, or cognitive impairment. Finally, there was no expected discernible increase in heritable disease or discernible radiation-related increases in any cancers, with the possible exception of thyroid cancer. However, the high detection rates of thyroid nodules, cysts, and cancer may be a consequence of intensive screening. In a 2015 white paper, UNSCEAR stated its findings from 2013 remain valid and largely unaffected by new information, and the new information further supports the statement that high thyroid detection is likely due to more intensive screening.[28]

None of the workers at the Fukushima Daiichi site have died from acute radiation poisoning,[29] though six workers died due to various reasons, including cardiovascular disease, during the containment efforts or work to stabilize the earthquake and tsunami damage to the site.[29]

In contrast, an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal cites a 2013 Japanese study, which concluded that mortality due to "evacuation stress" from the area around Fukoshima had reached more than 1600. This includes deaths from suicide and lack of access to critical health care, but not from radiation, increased cancer, or any other direct result of the nuclear accident. The author also states these deaths occurred among people who had been evacuated from areas where the radiation posed little or no risk to their health, areas where they would experience less exposure than the normal amount received by residents in Finland.[30]

There is a class action lawsuit brought by sailors on the USS Reagan against Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) who are allegedly suffering severe radiation induced illnesses. The USS Reagan was part of the operation "Tomodachi" to deliver essential supplies to devastated communities in the wake of the Tsunami on March 11, 2011. The wind was blowing out to sea from the Fukushima accident. If it had been blowing west instead of east, the sailors might not have been effected.[31][32]

References

  1. ^ a b UNSCEAR (2008). Sources and Effects of Ionizing Radiation, Volume 1 (Report). United Nations.
  2. ^ a b c Sovacool, Benjamin K. (August 2010). "A Critical Evaluation of Nuclear Power and Renewable Electricity in Asia". Journal of Contemporary Asia. 40 (3): 393.
  3. ^ "Investigation of an accidental Exposure of radiotherapy patients in Panama - International Atomic Energy Agency" (PDF). Report of a Team of Experts, 26 May–1 June 2001. International Atomic Energy Agency.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ Medical management of radiation accidents pp. 299 & 303.
  6. ^ Strengthening the Safety of Radiation Sources Archived 2009-06-08 at WebCite p. 15.
  7. ^ "The Worst Nuclear Disasters". TIME.com. 25 March 2009. Retrieved 15 November 2014.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ Strengthening the Safety of Radiation Sources Archived 2009-06-08 at WebCite p. 14.
  10. ^ "Lost Iridium-192 Source". Retrieved 15 November 2014.
  11. ^ The Radiological Accident in Goiania p. 2.
  12. ^ a b Pallava Bagla. "Radiation Accident a 'Wake-Up Call' For India's Scientific Community" Science, Vol. 328, 7 May 2010, p. 679.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ a b c d István Turai and Katalin Veress (2001). "Radiation Accidents: Occurrence, Types, Consequences, Medical Management, and the Lessons to be Learned". CEJOEM. pp. Vol.7. No.1.:3–14.
  15. ^ 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
  16. ^ Mahaffey, James (2010). Atomic Awakening. Pegasus Books. ISBN 1605982032.
  17. ^ UNSCEAR (2008). Sources and Effects of Ionizing Radiation, Volume 2 (Report). United Nations. pp. 58, 64–65.
  18. ^ "Chernobyl: the true scale of the accident". Chernobyl’s Legacy: Health, Environmental and Socio-Economic Impacts. Retrieved 2011-04-15.
  19. ^ "Torch: The Other Report On Chernobyl- executive summary". European Greens and UK scientists Ian Fairlie PhD and David Sumner - Chernobylreport.org. April 2006. Retrieved 2011-08-20.
  20. ^ "The Chernobyl Catastrophe – Consequences on Human Health" (PDF). Greenpeace. 18 April 2006. Retrieved 15 December 2008.
  21. ^ Alexey V. Yablokov; Vassily B. Nesterenko; Alexey V. Nesterenko (2009). Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment (Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences) (paperback ed.). Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 978-1-57331-757-3.
  22. ^ Schlager, Neil (1994). When Technology Fails. Detroit: Gale Research. ISBN 0-8103-8908-8.
  23. ^ a b Standring, William J.F.; Dowdall, Mark; Strand, Per (2009). "Overview of Dose Assessment Developments and the Health of Riverside Residents Close to the "Mayak" PA Facilities, Russia". International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 6 (1): 174–199. doi:10.3390/ijerph6010174. ISSN 1660-4601. PMC 2672329. PMID 19440276. Retrieved 11 June 2012.
  24. ^ "The Southern Urals radiation studies: A reappraisal of the current status" (PDF). Journal of Radiation and Environmental Biophysics. 41. 2002.
  25. ^ Gusev, Igor A.; Gusʹkova, Angelina Konstantinovna; Mettler, Fred Albert (28 March 2001). Medical Management of Radiation Accidents. CRC Press. pp. 15–29. ISBN 978-0-8493-7004-5. Retrieved 11 June 2012.
  26. ^ a b "Perhaps the Worst, Not the First". TIME magazine. 12 May 1986.
  27. ^ UNSCEAR (2014). Sources, Effects and Risks of Ionizing Radiation (Report). United Nations.
  28. ^ jaya.mohan. "Fukushima". Retrieved 15 November 2014.
  29. ^ a b "No visible effects detected on workers in Japan nuclear plant, UN assessment finds". UN News Centre. United Nations. 23 May 2012. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
  30. ^ [jp.wsj.com] (Japanese), [issuu.com] (English version), [www.wsj.com] (Original WSJ publication in English, paywall)
  31. ^ [enenews.com]
  32. ^ [www.japantimes.co.jp]

External links