Information about source points of anthropogenic radioactivity

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SECTION 3: Major Nuclear Accidents-in-Progress

    4. Major accidents within the US
      A. Defense Nuclear Facility Safety Board overview
      B. Rocky Flats, Colorado: 239Pu
      C. Savannah River, South Carolina: liquid high-level waste
      D. Hanford Reservation, Washington: liquid high-level waste
      E. Oak Ridge Reservation
      F. Idaho National Engineering Laboratory
      G. Other Accidents-in-progress, Continental USA: to be posted
        1. Fernald, Ohio (Feed Materials Production Center)
        2. Los Alamos National Laboratory
    5. Major accidents outside the US
      A. Russian plume source points
      B. Sellafield (United Kingdom)
      C. Dounreay (Scotland)
    6. Future nuclear accidents?

    7. Nuclear accident updates

      A. Tokai Uranium Processing Plant (Japan)
      B.  Maine Yankee Nuclear Power Company
1. Introduction

This section of RADNET is a brief summary of the principal source points of anthropogenic radioactivity and a supplemental guide to the labyrinth of nuclear information within RADNET. The biosphere is the site of several thousand nuclear accidents-in-progress ranging from small releases of a few curies to the uncontained release of tens of millions of curies or more of anthropogenic radioactivity at American, British, French and Russian weapons production and fuel reprocessing facilities. The following list of nuclear accidents-in-progress in this section of RADNET is only a sampling of some of the most important source points of radioactive contamination of the environment; this list is incomplete, in progress and subject to revision. It is not the intention of RADNET to slight the significance of Russian and European source points, many of which are not listed below, but our focus is on the most important domestic source points of anthropogenic radioactivity.

2. The Context: Characteristics of nuclear accidents-in-progress
International Nuclear Event Scale (INES) for nuclear installations

A new international scale for the expression of incident severity in nuclear installations is internationally in tentative use since early 1990. Based on their relevance to plant safety, it distinguishes the following seven levels of incidents:

Major accident External release of a large fraction of the reactor core inventory typically involving a mixture of short- and long-lived fission products (in quantities radiologically equivalent to more than tens of thousands of terabecquerels of iodine-131). 

Possibility of acute health effects. Delayed health effects over a wide area, possibly involving more than one country. Long term environmental consequences.

USSR, (1986)
External release of fission products (in quantities radiologically equivalent to the order of thousands to tens of thousands of terabecquerels of iodine-131) Full implementation of local emergency plans probably needed to limit serious health effects.  
with off-site risks
External release of fission products (in quantities radiologically equivalent to the order of hundreds to thousands of terabecquerels of iodine-131). Partial implementation of emergency plans (e.g. local sheltering and/or evacuation) required in some cases to lessen the likelihood of health effects.

Severe damage to a large fraction of the core and major plant contamination.

Windscale, UK

Three Mile Island,
USA, (1979)

Accident without significant off-site risks External release of radioactivity resulting in a dose to the most exposed individual off-site of the order of a few millisieverts. Need for off-site protective actions generally unlikely except possibly for local food control. 

Some damage to reactor core as a result of mechanical effects and/or melting.

Worker doses likely to have acute fatal consequences.


Saint Laurent,

Serious incident External release of radioactivity above authorised limits, resulting in a dose to the most exposed individual off-site of the order of tenths of a millisievert. 

High radiation levels and/or contamination on-site as a result of workers likely to lead to acute health effects.

Incidents in which a further failure of safety systems could lead to accident conditions, or a situation in which safety systems would be unable to prevent an accident if certain initiators were to occur.


Vandellos, Spain

Incident Incidents with major failure of safety provisions, but still leaving sufficient safety margins to cope with additional faults. 

Radiological incident with members of the personnel receiving doses in excess of the annual limit

Significant contamination of the installation which was not to be expected on the design basis.

Sosnowy Bor,
Anomaly Functional or operational anomalies which do not pose a risk but which indicate a lack of safety provisions. This may be due to equipment failure, human error or procedural inadequacies.  
No safety significance Situations where operational limits and conditions are note exceeded and which are properly managed in accordance with adequate procedeures belong here. 

Individual failure in a redundant system. Single operational mistake without consequences. Faults (no multiple simultaneous failure) detected in periodic inspections or tests. Automatic reactor scram with normal plant behaviour. Reaching of limiting operation conditions, while adhering to the proper regulations.


3. Accidents having a world wide impact
A. Nuclear weapons test explosions

Is the sum total of all nuclear weapons test explosions one large accident or a whole series of small accidents? The nearly instantaneous source term release durations of these explosions are now in the distant past; yet, the invisible recycling of the long-lived isotopes in the stratospheric fallout plumes continue today. As a current component of "background radiation," we do not usually differentiate weapons testing-derived contamination from natural background radiation levels. Nonetheless, weapons testing-derived radiocesium contamination still exists in significant quantities. The cumulative deposition from weapons-testing-derived plutonium exists in bands of ground deposition with the greatest accumulation in mid-latitude locations. What are the cumulative ground deposition and isotopic profiles of the long-lived radionuclides which are the legacy of these tests? What are their pathways, and what population groups are most susceptible to exposure from these pathways? See RAD 5, RAD 7, RAD 8, and RAD 11: Sections 1-2.
B. Chernobyl

Which Chernobyl-derived long-lived radionuclides remain in pathways to human exposure after the decay of the short-lived isotopes released from this accident? What are their elemental forms, their biogeochemical pathways, and what population groups are most susceptible to exposure from these pathways? The Chernobyl source term release occurred during just a few weeks. Will the remaining inventory of radionuclides in the Chernobyl sarcophagus constitute the basis for a second nuclear accident or just a footnote to the first? See RAD 10: all sections; also see RAD 9: Sections 3-4.
C. Satellite accidents: SNAP 9A (1964)

This satellite failure occurred over the Indian Ocean; 16,000 curies of 238Pu were efficiently spread throughout the southern and then the northern hemispheres. The entire human race bears traces of this accident in their biological tissues. What other satellite accidents have occurred that we don't know about? Is this the precursor of a much larger disaster in the future (the Cassini mission to Saturn)? See RAD 11: 10.
4. Major accidents within the US

The uncontained and undocumented release of liquid spent fuel-derived wastes at locations now under remediation management by the Dept. of Energy exceed 4 billion curies. The following DNFSB overview summarizes the most important safety concerns pertaining to DOE facilities which continue to release anthropogenic radioactivity into the environment. There are 109 plume source points undergoing environmental remediation by the Dept. of Energy and several hundred other small nuclear accidents-in-progress (including commercial nuclear reactors as well as formerly utilized sites) all having the potential for continued or future release of anthropogenic radioactivity. The DOE's FPIMS (Facility Profile Information Management System) database provides a window of opportunity for evaluating the 19 most important DOE environmental remediation management locations. FPIMS does not provide any data about the source term releases which originate from these facilities, but the existence of plumes of anthropogenic radioactivity are continually referenced and are, in fact, a principal (but not the only) reason why this Facility Information Profile Management System exists. The FPIMS database includes the "Tiger Team Assessments (Analysis of Findings From the First Sixteen Tiger Team Assessments, Tiger Team Assessments Seventeen through Thirty-Five: A Summary and Analysis)" about these source points. The FPIMS includes both non-site and site-specific documents, ranging from summaries and appraisals to corrective action plans, site environmental reports, trend analyses, and evaluations of the applicability of the National Environmental Policy Act and other statutes. FPIMS represents the work of thousands of DOE employees spending millions of tax dollars documenting the nuclear accidents-in-progress which RADNET can only reference in brief and inadequate listings. Needless to say, nowhere in FPIMS are any DOE facilities described as a nuclear accident-in-progress, nor is any data provided that document uncontained releases of radioactivity at these locations.
A. Defense Nuclear Facility Safety Board overview

The Defense Nuclear Facility Safety Board which is in charge of oversight of all DOE weapon production facilities is an excellent source of site-specific information about the most important nuclear accidents-in-progress which have occurred or are occurring in the continental United States.

The first of the following DNFSB reports comments on high-level waste issues; the second report addresses low-level waste issues. Other DNFSB reports are referenced in RAD 11. All DNFSB reports cited in RADNET are electronically accessible.

Defense Nuclear Facility Safety Board. (May 26, 1994). Improved Schedule for Remediation in Defense Nuclear Facilities Complex. Recommendation 94-1 to the Secretary of Energy pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 2286a(5) Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended.

Defense Nuclear Facility Safety Board. (September 8, 1994). Low-Level Waste-Disposal. Recommendation 94-2 to the Secretary of Energy pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 2286a(5) Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended.
B. Rocky Flats, Colorado: 239Pu


WWW Links: The Rocky Flats release of 239Pu during weapons production activities has the potential to produce the largest death toll among all the plumes originating from the U.S. weapons production facilities, even though Rocky Flats does not come close to being the largest continental plume of anthropogenic radioactivity in the U.S.A. Until all onsite inventories of plutonium are actually removed from this location, the potential exists for significant plutonium releases in addition to those that have already occurred. The possibility of a criticality event or a serious fire continues to make this site the most dangerous nuclear accident-in-progress in the United States. Who will inhale the wind-driven particles of plutonium released from this site, now bound to the desiccated sediments which characterize the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains? How far afield from Rocky Flats, located so close to highly populated areas, will the high winds of the eastern slope spread this contamination? How many children will breathe in this plutonium and suffer a premature death? For how many millennia will this, the largest nuclear accident-in-progress in the United States, affect the populations of this region and the regions which will be the later recipients of this wind-blown plutonium (1/2 T = 24,400 years)? See RAD 11: Sections 5 and 12; also RAD 15.
C. Savannah River, South Carolina: liquid high-level waste

The DOE Integrated Database (1994) lists the Savannah River facility as having the largest inventory of contained high-level wastes of any DOE weapons production facility, 534,500,000 curies of liquid high-level wastes. These wastes derive from the production of spent fuel at this location and its reprocessing for the purpose of extracting the plutonium for weapons fabrication. During the period of weapons production, huge additional uncontained quantities of liquid high-level and low-level wastes were released to the natural environment. The curic inventory of these uncontained releases probably exceeded 1 billion curies. The Savannah River plume constitutes what is one of the two largest releases of anthropogenic radioactivity occurring in the United States during the Cold War. Only the uncontained releases at the Hanford, Washington Reservation, an isolated and desiccated environment, have the potential to exceed the size of the Savannah River plume. The Savannah River release is also that plume likely to have the second largest health physics impact during the next few millennium. Of particular concern are the plutonium storage tanks in the F-canyon of Savannah River, as well as the extensive uncontained releases of spent-fuel-derived wastes which have historically occurred at the other fuel processing canyons and reactor basins at this facility. How will the humid climate, high rainfall, and numerous wetlands assist the transport of the long-lived radionuclides in this plume? How far afield from the lagoons and holding ponds of the Savannah River reservation will this contamination travel? What natural processes will make the plutonium in this plume, now predominantly in a biologically inert form, more available for uptake in pathways to humans? How will continuing activities at SRP as well as the possibility of additional spent fuel reprocessing affect the size and duration of this plume? See RAD 11: Section 5.
D. Hanford Reservation, Washington: liquid high-level waste

The Hanford Reservation in Washington State, and the Savannah River Plant in South Carolina were the principal plutonium production facilities operated by the DOE for the purpose of fabricating nuclear weapons during the Cold War. The plutonium produced at Hanford Reservation was shipped to other weapons production facilities for refining and final fabrication into usable weapons. During this process, large quantities of spent fuel were created and then reprocessed to extract the plutonium, creating huge quantities of liquid high-level and low-level wastes. The DOE Integrated Database report (1994) lists a current inventory of 348 million curies of contained high-level waste as well as additional quantities of stored or buried transuranic wastes at this site. As at the Savannah River facilities, huge additional quantities of uncontained liquid high-level and low-level wastes were produced and released to the natural environment. Not enough information is available to determine whether the uncontained releases at this location exceeded those at the Savannah River site which is closer to populated suburban and urban population centers.

The plutonium production facilities at Hanford lie alongside the Columbia River which was the recipient of significant, but unknown, quantities of reactor-derived liquid wastes. Aside from the large quantities of liquid high-level wastes now residing in leaking steel tanks, significant uncontained quantities of liquid wastes were released in shallow holding ponds which later dried out, in pits, and via shallow well and deepwell injection. The total uncontained release of weapons-production-derived wastes may exceed the total release at the Savannah River facility. In view of the total amount of missing military high-level wastes, the uncontained release of radioactivity to the natural environment at this location may exceed 1 billion curies of reprocessed spent-fuel-derived wastes and hundreds of millions of curies of low-level wastes. The location of these huge releases in a desiccated environment with low rainfall, little surface water other than the Columbia River, the low water table, and the lack of nearby population centers may serve to mitigate the health physics impact of what is likely the largest uncontained release of weapons-production-derived contamination in the United States. Unfortunately, unlike the Rocky Flats plutonium plume, there are very few environmental remediation solutions available to mitigate previous uncontained releases of radioactivity at this location. If the DOE fails to secure the contained tank wastes at this location or if criticality is reached in these vulnerable tanks, this release plume, which will continue to spread for hundreds of years, will be greatly enhanced. See RAD 11: Sections 5 and 12, for more information on this plume source point.
E. Oak Ridge Reservation

The Oak Ridge Reservation includes a multiplicity of important plume source points, including the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, The K-25 Plant and the Y-12 Plant. The primary function of the latter two sites was the production of enriched uranium for the purpose of nuclear weapons production. The Oak Ridge Reservation may be the most complex plume source point among all the DOE weapons production laboratories. Plume source points include the X-10 Graphite Reactor which operated in the early years of the Cold War, as well as uranium contamination deriving from the K-25 Plant and the Y-12 Plant. Two buildings at the Y-12 Plant are currently considered among the top ten most dangerous DOE sites for processing or storing uranium due to inadequately designed vaults containing bomb grade uranium. The Oak Ridge Reservation is the location of the infamous hydrofracture facility which was designed specifically for the injection of highly radioactive reprocessed spent fuel wastes into underlying shale deposits in the form of a grout containing the unwanted wastes. At least 1 1/2 million curies of waste, and possibly much more, are contained in this component of the Oak Ridge plume. Other undocumented injections of liquid wastes occurred in the early years of operation of this facility. Maps contained in the DOE BEMR provide a graphic illustration of a series of interconnected "waste area groups" (WAG) which resulted in so much radioactive contamination being released to surface water supplies (White Oak Creek, White Oak Lake, etc.) that not only have special dams been constructed to slow the movement of surface contamination, but the Clinch River Basin has been declared a superfund site and is listed in the BEMR publication as a subject of DOE remediation efforts. The total curic content of uncontained releases of radioactive effluents to the environment at this location may never be known but could easily be in excess of 200 million curies of uranium processing-derived wastes as well as of "low-level" and mixed low-level wastes originating from reprocessed spent fuel and other weapons production facilities. Contamination of underground aquifers in the relatively highly populated areas of this section of Tennessee could result in a plume which equals or exceeds the size and the significance of the other major underground plumes at Hanford, SRP and INEL. See RAD 11: Sections 5 and 12, for more information on this plume source point.
F. Idaho National Engineering Laboratory

The Idaho National Engineering Laboratory (INEL) covers 890 sq. miles in southern Idaho along the edge of the Snake River Plain. The INEL is an important nuclear accident-in-progress with a variety of constituents including ten major operating areas in addition to the Argonne National Laboratory West and the Naval Reactor Facility, which are, in themselves, important plume source points. Of particular concern is the presence of large quantities of deteriorating irradiated reactor fuel and related corrosion products (sludge) in the 603 basin which is a component of the Idaho Chemical Processing Plant (ICPP). While removal of some of this deteriorating fuel has begun, this facility still remains the most dangerous of above ground plume source points among all the 98 operable units which are subject to environmental remediation at this facility. Numerous other storage tanks, pits, trenches, evaporation ponds, "French drains," waste sumps, storage tanks, chemical wash out areas, and other surface facilities and waste sites contribute to INEL as a plume source point with many constituents. The single largest component of INEL as a plume source point results, however, from shallow well and deep well injection of high-level as well as low-level mixed wastes which began with the establishment of this facility in the late 1940's.

Evaluation of the INEL site is complicated by continuing operations; a high level of secrecy and lack of documentation of disposal techniques in its early years of operation; and the multiplicity of source points of radiological contamination. These include an experimental breeder reactor, the power burst facility reactor, three or more test reactor areas, the ICPP and related tank farm, the waste calcine facility, the test area north including a manufacturing assembly and hot shop, and a radioactive waste management complex. Not enough information is available to determine which of these facilities contributed the largest quantities of radioactive wastes to the injection wells and "French drains" which were formerly utilized at this location. The Baseline Environmental Management Report (BEMR) divides the ICPP into 14 units consisting of 93 potential release sites and then makes the following comment: "...most of the known contamination at the Idaho Chemical Processing Plant is below the surface of the soil..." (pg. Idaho-29). The assessment of contamination in the Snake River Plain Aquifer, which has just begun, has detected volatile organic compounds in the aquifer 600 feet below the surface of the ground. The INEL site environmental report for 1995 limits discussion of the extensive shallow and deep well injections that occurred at INEL in the past to a few disposal wells. The complex ground water monitoring program activities, illustrated in Figure 5.1, page 5.4 of this report, which were implemented by the United States Geological Survey, reference the extensive undocumented disposal of liquid radioactive wastes of the past. While some components of the INEL facility may be the subject of successful remediation efforts with respect to the transfer of transuranic wastes to the Waste Isolation Pilot Project (WIPP) in New Mexico, the huge INEL-derived Snake River aquifer plume will likely rate among the top ten most significant source points of radioactive contamination in the US in the next millennium. A variety of reports and studies that discuss this inscrutable DOE plume source point are cited in RAD 11: Section 5: INEL.
G. Other Accidents-in-progress, Continental USA: to be posted

  1. Fernald, Ohio (Feed Materials Production Center)
  2. Los Alamos National Laboratory
  3. Other sites: The Baseline Environmental Monitoring Report (BEMR) and other DOE radiological surveillance reports will be reviewed for the purpose of locating other sites which may contain missing military high-level waste. All of the BEMR sites constitute nuclear accidents-in-progress of one size or another; BEMR sites not discussed above will be listed at the end of this sub-section of RAD 3. For RADNET comments on the topic of missing military high-level waste, see RAD 11: Sections 5 and 12. Your comments and criticisms of our observations would be welcomed.
  4. A note on very small nuclear accidents-in-progress:

    The Maine Yankee Atomic Power Station at Wiscasset, Maine, is an example of a very small nuclear accident-in-progress. Mandatory radiological effluent reports filed with the NRC indicate a total discharge of less than four curies of 137Cs into the environment in the vicinity of MYAPC since the beginning of plant operation in 1972. This contrasts with an onsite inventory of +/-20 million curies of 137Cs in the spent fuel pool and in the fuel rods in the reactor vessel. Total onsite inventories of spent fuel exceed 200 million curies; GTCC reactor vessel components exceed 4 million curies at 2 years cooling, and low-level wastes exceed one hundred thousand curies. If the licensee and the NRC are successful in ensuring that no significant additional discharges of radioactivity occur at this location, the primary impact of the MYAPC will be on the pocketbooks of the ratepayers and taxpayers who will have to fund this effort. This impact will include the high costs of safe decommissioning, monitored retrievable storage of GTCC and spent fuel wastes, and administrative and transportation costs prior to waste disposal in a final geological depository. In short, it will be a very high price to pay for assurance that a very small nuclear accident-in-progress doesn't grow larger.  For an analysis of MYAPC as a small nuclear accident -in-progress see RAD 6:  Radiation Protection Guidelines:  Section 1B-5:  Nuclear power plants as small nuclear accidents-in-progress.

5. Major accidents outside the US

There are thousands of other regional source points of anthropogenic radioactivity; this is an attempt to list a few of the major source points which are ongoing accidents-in-progress.
A. Russian plume source points

The largest uncontained releases of weapons-production-derived high-level wastes have occurred within the boundaries of the former USSR. RADNET does not include information on the size and significance of these releases other than that contained in RAD 11: Sections 5, 7, 8. The size and the health physics impact of Russian releases are likely to exceed those in the United States; a fundamental lack of public resources will maximize the impact of Russian plume source points.
B. Sellafield (United Kingdom)

Sellafield is the largest nuclear accident-in-progress outside of Russia and the continental United States. Total source term releases to date may be extrapolated from the records of British Nuclear Fuels, the site operator and other information sources such as MAFF (Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries). Source term releases are now increasing with the recent inauguration of a new thermal oxide fuel reprocessing plant (THORP). The proposal to dispose of high-level wastes generated at this facility in underlying rock formations as uncontained releases may further exacerbate the size of the Sellafield plume. This disposal plan is reminiscent of the antiquated policies of uncontained release of high-level wastes at various US weapons productions facilities which now have been discontinued.

Update 1/20/99

Development of the underground high-level waste facility at Sellafield appears to have been canceled entirely.  Numerous developments have occurred in the last three years pertaining to Sellafield as an ongoing nuclear accident.  The viability of fuel reprocessing as an industry is collapsing at the same time as the intermediate and high-level waste crisis is growing.  Many of the political and economic issues pertaining to the Sellafield debacle are beyond the scope of RADNET, but important new information has emerged in the form of additional documentation of the Sellafield pulse.  Of particular interest is the 99Tc plume in lobsters, the development of more comprehensive radiological surveillance programs as exemplified by the publications of MAFF (Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries):  Radiation in Food and the Environment (RIFE) and  the documentation of extensive Sellafield-derived contamination in pigeons (see Greenpeace).  The appalling size of the Sellafield plume is illustrated by F. Oldfield, et. al. with a peak of Sellafield-derived 241Am in salt marsh sediment observed of 434,000 bq/m2(1990).  This observation was made several years prior to the opening of the THORP processing facility which has resulted in additional contamination of the North and Irish Seas.  The following links will bring RADNET visitors into other sections of RADNET which document or discuss Sellafield as a nuclear accident-in-progress:

  • For a general overview of Sellafield as an ongoing nuclear accident, review the many research and monitoring reports in  RAD 11: Sections 1 and 7.
  • For the appalling peak values noted above, see Oldfield, et. al.  Also see Ashton, Thompson and others in the same section of RAD 7.
  • For information on the 99Tc plume, see RAD 15: Alerts.
  • To review the MAFF documentation of the Sellafield plume (RIFE-3), see RAD 6: 4-B.
  • For updates on localized Sellafield contamination, link to Greenpeace.

C. Dounreay (Scotland)

Recent news stories reveal the presence of a waste shaft at Dounreay, which has been cut through bedrock and projects under the ocean. Substantial amounts of uncontained plutonium-bearing wastes have been discarded in this waste tunnel. In May of 1977, the combination of radionuclides, toxic chemicals, and odd components of plant equipment dumped in this shaft resulted in an explosion which spread contamination not only at the shaft entrance but also on local beaches. Plutonium contamination resulting from this explosion has now been documented on area beaches. The fuel reprocessing facilities at Dounreay are thus the source of a much larger plume of plutonium-bearing contamination than had previously been anticipated. Future fuel reprocessing activities at this location have the potential to greatly enlarge the Dounreay plume. MAFF reports documenting the Dounreay pulse have been requested and will be posted in RAD 11: 7 when they become available.

Update 1/20/99

The Dounreay facility has now been closed and no further fuel reprocessing will occur there after 2000; the facility is now in the stage of environmental remediation.  Additional information is available by reviewing the citations in RAD 11: 7.  Also, see the new radiological surveillance reports issued by MAFF and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) which document Dounreay as a plume source point.   Additional areas of hot particle contamination are being documented on the beaches surrounding Dounreay and will be posted in RAD 11: 7 as they become available.

6. Future nuclear accidents?

In the following list, RADNET estimates the types of uncontained releases of anthropogenic radioactivity that are most likely to occur in the future and the locations where they might occur. Unfortunately, there is the possibility that many ongoing releases of anthropogenic radioactivity are nuclear accidents-in-progress which are only in their initial stages. Additional suggestions, comments or criticisms of this preliminary listing are solicited.

The most likely locations of the nuclear accidents of the future are:

  1. A quick release accident(QRA) or a LORCA at an RBMK-type nuclear reactor in Russia or Eastern Europe due to degradation of aging equipment or terrorism/sabotage.
  2. A quick release accident(QRA) or a LORCA at other nuclear reactors located in areas of political unrest and/or economic chaos due to degradation of aging equipment or terrorism/sabotage.
  3. Russia: any number of accident scenarios are possible at existing weapons production facilities and unsecured waste storage sites (Kola peninsula, Vladivostok, etc.).
  4. Sellafield, United Kingdom: fuel reprocessing facility accident.
  5. Major release of 238Pu resulting from an accident involving the upcoming Cassini mission to Saturn.
  6. Rocky Flats, Colorado, Technology Site: a serious fire event at one or more weapons production plutonium contaminated buildings or criticality event due to the accumulation of fissile plutonium.
  7. Hanford Reservation: an accident at a storage tank containing high-level waste or at the N-reactor fuel storage site in the K-East Basin.
  8. United States: a major LORCA at any of the 109 NRC licensed commercial nuclear power plants due to micro-degradation of aging equipment.
  9. United States: an accident at a DOE weapons production facility (Pantex, Savannah River Plant, Los Alamos National Laboratory, or Oak Ridge National Laboratory) due to the mishandling of fissile material.
7. Nuclear accident updates

(Small nuclear accidents which get wide publicity - why only in Japan?)
A. Tokai Uranium Processing Plant (Japan)

September 30, 1999, 10:35 AM Japanese standard time: Criticality accident at a Japanese Uranium Processing Plant.

For other information on this small accident, see RAD 15: Alerts.

French, Howard W. (October 1, 1999). Japanese fuel plant spews radiation after accident. New York Times.

March 11, 1997, fire and explosion at the Tokai Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing Plant

Confusion and mis-information at a small nuclear accident:

The following information documenting the March 11, 1997, fire and explosion at the Tokai Nuclear Reprocessing Plant is entirely derived from quotes taken from Lexis-Nexis news service reports in the days following the Tokai accident. The quotations are ordered by date and include quotations from Japan Economic News Wire, Associated Press, New York Times, Agence France Presse, Kyodo News Service, Mainichi Daily News, etc. Each bullet contains quotations from one or more news sources.


If this much confusion, mis-information and waffling can result from one small nuclear mishap, what will be the case in the event of a major Chernobyl-type nuclear accident?

No source term release information, no media specific accident-derived contamination data, very little nuclide specific accident-derived data, no ground deposition data, no mention of any plume pulse, no plume pulse pathway or exposure pathway analysis, no reference to any Japanese, U.S. government or International Atomic Energy Agency satellite-derived remote sensing data, etc.

B. Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company

RADNET has used the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company (MYAPC) in Wiscasset, Maine as a case study for analysis of safety, legal, economic and decommissioning issues pertaining to nuclear power plant operation.  This facility may also be used as an example of a nuclear power plant as a small nuclear accident-in-progress.  MYAPC began operation in 1972 and was closed in 1997.

See RAD 6:  Radiation Protection Guidelines:  Section 1B-5: Nuclear power plants as small nuclear accidents-in-progress for further discussion.

This section of RADNET will be under construction indefinitely.

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