Nuclear and radiation accidents by death toll
There have been more than 20 nuclear and radiation accidents involving fatalities. These involved nuclear power plant
Nuclear power plant
A nuclear power plant is a thermal power station in which the heat source is one or more nuclear reactors. As in a conventional thermal power station the heat is used to generate steam which drives a steam turbine connected to a generator which produces electricity.Nuclear power plants are usually...

 accidents, nuclear submarine
Nuclear submarine
A nuclear submarine is a submarine powered by a nuclear reactor . The performance advantages of nuclear submarines over "conventional" submarines are considerable: nuclear propulsion, being completely independent of air, frees the submarine from the need to surface frequently, as is necessary for...

 accidents, radiotherapy accidents, and other mishaps.

Chernobyl disaster

4,000 fatalities – Chernobyl disaster
Chernobyl disaster
The Chernobyl disaster was a nuclear accident that occurred on 26 April 1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine , which was under the direct jurisdiction of the central authorities in Moscow...

, Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

, April 26, 1986. 56 direct deaths (47 accident workers, and nine children with thyroid cancer
Thyroid cancer
Thyroid neoplasm is a neoplasm or tumor of the thyroid. It can be a benign tumor such as thyroid adenoma, or it can be a malignant neoplasm , such as papillary, follicular, medullary or anaplastic thyroid cancer. Most patients are 25 to 65 years of age when first diagnosed; women are more affected...

), and it is estimated that there were 4,000 extra cancer deaths among the approximately 600,000 most highly exposed people.

Estimates of the total number of deaths potentially resulting from the Chernobyl disaster vary enormously: Thirty one deaths are directly attributed to the accident
Deaths due to the Chernobyl disaster
The Chernobyl disaster , was a nuclear accident that occurred on 26 April 1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant In the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic , now in Ukraine...

, all among the reactor staff and emergency workers. A UNSCEAR report places the total confirmed deaths from radiation at 64 as of 2008. The World Health Organization
World Health Organization
The World Health Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations that acts as a coordinating authority on international public health. Established on 7 April 1948, with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, the agency inherited the mandate and resources of its predecessor, the Health...

 (WHO) suggests it could reach 4,000 civilian deaths, a figure which does not include military clean-up worker casualties. A 2006 report
TORCH report
The TORCH report was requested by the European Greens in 2006, for the twentieth anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, in reply to the 2006 report of the Chernobyl Forum which was criticized by some advocacy organizations opposed to nuclear energy such as Greenpeace.In 2006, German Green Member...

 predicted 30,000 to 60,000 cancer deaths as a result of Chernobyl fallout. A Greenpeace
Greenpeace is a non-governmental environmental organization with offices in over forty countries and with an international coordinating body in Amsterdam, The Netherlands...

 report puts this figure at 200,000 or more. A Russian publication, Chernobyl
Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment
Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment is a translation of a 2007 Russian publication by Alexey V. Yablokov, Vassily B. Nesterenko, and Alexey V. Nesterenko...

, concludes that 985,000 premature cancer deaths occurred worldwide between 1986 and 2004 as a result of radioactive contamination from Chernobyl.

Fukushima disaster

Frank N. von Hippel
Frank N. von Hippel
Frank N. von Hippel, Professor and Co-Director, Program on Science and Global Security, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.-Positions held:...

, a U.S. scientist, has estimated that “on the order of 1,000” people will die from cancer as a result of their exposure to radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster
Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster
The is a series of equipment failures, nuclear meltdowns, and releases of radioactive materials at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, following the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami on 11 March 2011. The plant comprises six separate boiling water reactors originally designed by General Electric ,...


Mayak explosion

200+ fatalities – Mayak nuclear waste
Kyshtym disaster
The Kyshtym disaster was a radiation contamination incident that occurred on 29 September 1957 at Mayak, a nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in Russia...

 storage tank explosion, (Chelyabinsk
Chelyabinsk is a city and the administrative center of Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia, located in the northwestern side of the oblast, south of Yekaterinburg, just to the east of the Ural Mountains, on the Miass River. Population: -History:...

, Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, 29 September 1957), figure is a conservative estimate, 270,000 people were exposed to dangerous radiation
Radioactive decay
Radioactive decay is the process by which an atomic nucleus of an unstable atom loses energy by emitting ionizing particles . The emission is spontaneous, in that the atom decays without any physical interaction with another particle from outside the atom...

 levels. Over thirty small communities had been removed from Soviet maps between 1958 and 1991.

Windscale fire

33+ cancer fatalities (estimated by UK government) – Windscale, United Kingdom, October 8, 1957. Fire ignites plutonium piles and contaminates surrounding dairy farms.. Windscale was an air-cooled graphite-moderated reactor with no containment structure. A significant contributing factor was that the graphite caught fire.

Other accidents

  • 17 fatalities – Instituto Oncologico Nacional
    Instituto Oncologico Nacional
    The National Oncologic Institute or ION is a specialized hospital for cancer treatment, located in Panama City, Panama.-History:...

     of Panama
    Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...

    , August 2000 – March 2001. Patients receiving treatment for prostate cancer and cancer of the cervix receive lethal doses of radiation.
  • 13 fatalities – Radiotherapy accident in Costa Rica
    Radiotherapy accident in Costa Rica
    The radiotherapy accident in Costa Rica occurred with the Alcyon II radiotherapy unit at San Juan de Dios Hospital in San José, Costa Rica. It was related to a Cobalt-60 source that was being used for radiotherapy in 1996...

    , 1996. 114 patients received an overdose of radiation from a Cobalt-60
    Cobalt-60, , is a synthetic radioactive isotope of cobalt. Due to its half-life of 5.27 years, is not found in nature. It is produced artificially by neutron activation of . decays by beta decay to the stable isotope nickel-60...

     source that was being used for radiotherapy.
  • 11 fatalities – Radiotherapy accident in Zaragoza
    Radiotherapy accident in Zaragoza
    The radioactive accident at the Clinic of Zaragoza was a radiological accident that occurred from December 10-20, 1990, at the Clinic of Zaragoza, in Spain....

    , Spain, December 1990. Cancer patients receiving radiotherapy; 27 patients were injured.
  • 10 fatalities – Soviet submarine K-431
    Soviet submarine K-431
    The Soviet submarine K-431 was a Soviet nuclear-powered submarine that had a reactor accident on August 10, 1985. An explosion occurred during refueling of the submarine at Chazhma Bay, Vladivostok...

     reactor accident, August 10, 1985. 49 people suffered radiation injuries.
  • 10 fatalities – Columbus radiotherapy accident, 1974–1976, 88 injuries from Cobalt-60 source.
  • 9 fatalities – Soviet submarine K-27
    Soviet submarine K-27
    The K-27 was the only submarine of Projekt 645 in the Soviet Navy. Project 645 did not have or need its own NATO reporting name. That project produced just one test model nuclear submarine, one which incorporated a pair of experimental VT-1 nuclear reactors that used a liquid-metal coolant ,...

     reactor accident, 24 May 1968. 83 people were injured.
  • 8 fatalities – Soviet submarine K-19
    Soviet submarine K-19
    K-19, KS-19, BS_19 was one of the first two Soviet submarines of the 658, 658м, 658с class , the first generation nuclear submarine equipped with nuclear ballistic missiles, specifically the R-13 . Its keel was laid down on 17 October 1958, christened on 8 April 1959 and launched on 11 October 1959...

     reactor accident, July 4, 1961. More than 30 people were over-exposed to radiation.
  • 8 fatalities – Radiation accident in Morocco
    Radiation accident in Morocco
    In March 1984, a serious radiation accident in Morocco occurred where eight people died from overexposure to radiation from a lost iridium-192 source. Other individuals also received significant overdoses of radiation that required medical attention....

    , March 1984.
  • 7 fatalities – Houston radiotherapy accident, 1980.
  • 5 fatalities – Lost radiation source, Baku, Azerbaijan, USSR, October 5, 1982. 13 injuries.
  • 4 fatalities – Mihama Nuclear Power Plant
    Mihama Nuclear Power Plant
    The is operated by The Kansai Electric Power Company, Inc. and is in the town of Mihama, Fukui Prefecture, about 320 km west of Tokyo. It is on a site that is 520,000 m2 of which 60% is green space.-Reactors on Site:-Events:...

     accident, August 9, 2004. Hot water and steam leaked from a broken pipe.
  • 4 fatalities – Goiânia accident
    Goiânia accident
    The Goiânia accident was a radioactive contamination accident that occurred on September 13, 1987, at Goiânia, in the Brazilian State of Goiás after an old radiotherapy source was taken from an abandoned hospital site in the city...

    , September 13, 1987. 249 people received serious radiation contamination from lost radiography source.
  • 4 fatalities – Radiation accident in Mexico City
    Radiation accident in Mexico City
    In 1962, a radiation accident in Mexico City occurred where four people died from overexposure to radiation from a Co-60 capsule. Five other individuals also received significant overdoses of radiation.-See also:*Nuclear and radiation accidents...

    , 1962.
  • 3 fatalities – SL-1
    The SL-1, or Stationary Low-Power Reactor Number One, was a United States Army experimental nuclear power reactor which underwent a steam explosion and meltdown on January 3, 1961, killing its three operators. The direct cause was the improper withdrawal of the central control rod, responsible for...

     accident (US Army
    United States Army
    The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

    ) 1961.
  • 3 fatalities – Three deaths and ten injuries resulted in Samut Prakarn, Thailand when a radiation-therapy unit was dismantled, February 2000.
  • 2 fatalities – Tokaimura nuclear accident
    Tokaimura nuclear accident
    The Tokaimura nuclear accident , which occurred on 30 September 1999, resulted in two deaths. At that time, it was Japan's worst civilian nuclear radiation accident. The criticality accident occurred in a uranium reprocessing facility operated by JCO , a subsidiary of Sumitomo Metal Mining Co...

    , nuclear fuel reprocessing plant. Japan, September 30, 1999.
  • 1 fatality – Mayapuri radiological accident, India, April 2010.
  • 1 fatality – Daigo Fukuryū Maru
    Daigo Fukuryu Maru
    was a Japanese tuna fishing boat, which was exposed to and contaminated by nuclear fallout from the United States' Castle Bravo thermonuclear device test on Bikini Atoll, on 1 March 1954....

     March 1, 1954
  • 1 fatality – Louis Slotin
    Louis Slotin
    Louis Alexander Slotin was a Canadian physicist and chemist who took part in the Manhattan Project, the secret US program during World War II that developed the atomic bomb....

     May 21, 1946
  • 1 fatality – Harry K. Daghlian, Jr.
    Harry K. Daghlian, Jr.
    Haroutune Krikor Daghlian, Jr. was an Armenian-American physicist with the Manhattan Project who accidentally irradiated himself on August 21, 1945, during a critical mass experiment at the remote Omega Site facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, resulting in his death 25 days...

    , August 21, 1945 at Los Alamos National Laboratory
    Los Alamos National Laboratory
    Los Alamos National Laboratory is a United States Department of Energy national laboratory, managed and operated by Los Alamos National Security , located in Los Alamos, New Mexico...

     in New Mexico.
  • 1 fatality – Cecil Kelley criticality accident
    Cecil Kelley criticality accident
    The Cecil Kelley criticality accident was a nuclear accident that took place on December 30, 1958, at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico, in the United States...

    , December 30, 1958 at the Los Alamos National Laboratory
    Los Alamos National Laboratory
    Los Alamos National Laboratory is a United States Department of Energy national laboratory, managed and operated by Los Alamos National Security , located in Los Alamos, New Mexico...

  • 1 fatality – Malfunction INES level 4 at RA2 in Buenos Aires
    Buenos Aires
    Buenos Aires is the capital and largest city of Argentina, and the second-largest metropolitan area in South America, after São Paulo. It is located on the western shore of the estuary of the Río de la Plata, on the southeastern coast of the South American continent...

    , Argentina
    Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

    , operator Osvaldo Rogulich dies days later.

See also

  • Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
    Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
    During the final stages of World War II in 1945, the United States conducted two atomic bombings against the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, the first on August 6, 1945, and the second on August 9, 1945. These two events are the only use of nuclear weapons in war to date.For six months...

  • Lists of nuclear disasters and radioactive incidents
  • Nevada Test Site
    Nevada Test Site
    The Nevada National Security Site , previously the Nevada Test Site , is a United States Department of Energy reservation located in southeastern Nye County, Nevada, about northwest of the city of Las Vegas...

  • Semipalatinsk Test Site
    Semipalatinsk Test Site
    The Semipalatinsk Test Site was the primary testing venue for the Soviet Union's nuclear weapons. It is located on the steppe in northeast Kazakhstan , south of the valley of the Irtysh River...

External links

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