Nuclear Plant Accidents

Introduction

There have been several accidents at nuclear power plants around the world, since nuclear power was first harnessed for peaceful uses. Of those accidents, the three most damaging and most well-known are:

Three Mile Island
The Three Mile Island event occurred on March 28, 1979 at the nuclear power plant on Three Mile Island, near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA. It started with a loss of coolant and a partial core meltdown. It's cause has been attributed to operator errors. There was a small release of radioactive gases, but there were no deaths due to the accident.

Chernobyl
The Chernobyl accident occurred on April 26, 1986 at Chernobyl Raion, Kiev Oblast, Ukraininan SSR. It was a severe event, involving overheating of the reactor, a steam explosion and meltdown. It required the evacuation of 300,000 people from the city of Chernobyl. The radioactive waste was widely dispersed, spreading into parts of Europe. The accident resulted in 30 direct deaths and numerous indirect deaths due to cancer caused by released radioactive material.

Fukushima-Daiichi
The accident at Fukushima, Japan occurred on March 12, 2011. It resulted from flooding caused by a tsunami that was generated by a earthquake at sea. Five of the plants 6 reactors were damaged, resulting in meltdowns. The local area was evacuated. Two deaths occurred by drowning and another death occurred during the clean-up.