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Safety of Nuclear Power Reactors - Appendix

Appendix 1. The Hazards of Using Energy

 

(updated August 2013)

 

Some energy-related accidents since 1975

Place Year Number killed Comments
 Banqiao, Shimantan & others, Henan, China 1975 30,000 immediate
230,000 total
hydro-electric dam failures (18 GWe lost)
Machhu II, India
1979
2500
hydro-electric dam failure
Hirakud, India
1980
1000
hydro-electric dam failure
Ortuella, Spain
1980
70
gas explosion
Donbass, Ukraine
1980
68
coal mine methane explosion
Israel
1982
89
gas explosion
Guavio, Colombia
1983
160
hydro-electric dam failure
Nile R, Egypt
1983
317
LPG explosion
Cubatao, Brazil
1984
508
oil fire
Mexico City
1984
498
LPG explosion
Tbilisi, Russia
1984
100
gas explosion
northern Taiwan
1984
314
3 coal mine accidents
Chernobyl, Ukraine
1986
47+
nuclear reactor accident, massive radioactive pollution
Piper Alpha, North Sea
1988
167
explosion of offshore oil platform
Asha-ufa, Siberia
1989
600
LPG pipeline leak and fire
Dobrnja, Yugoslavia
1990
178
coal mine
Hongton, Shanxi, China
1991
147
coal mine
Belci, Romania
1991
116
hydro-electric dam failure
Kozlu, Turkey
1992
272
coal mine methane explosion
Cuenca, Equador
1993
200
coal mine
Durunkha, Egypt
1994
580
fuel depot hit by lightning
Seoul, S.Korea
1994
500
oil fire
Minanao, Philippines
1994
90
coal mine
Dhanbad, India
1995
70
coal mine
Taegu, S.Korea
1995
100
oil & gas explosion
Spitsbergen, Russia
1996
141
coal mine
Henan, China
1996
84
coal mine methane explosion
Datong, China
1996
114
coal mine methane explosion
Henan, China
1997
89
coal mine methane explosion
Fushun, China
1997
68
coal mine methane explosion
Kuzbass, Russia/Siberia
1997
67
coal mine methane explosion
Huainan, China
1997
89
coal mine methane explosion
Huainan, China
1997
45
coal mine methane explosion
Guizhou, China
1997
43
coal mine methane explosion
Donbass, Ukraine
1998
63
coal mine methane explosion
Liaoning, China
1998
71
coal mine methane explosion
Warri, Nigeria
1998
500+
oil pipeline leak and fire
Donbass, Ukraine
1999
50+
coal mine methane explosion
Donbass, Ukraine
2000
80
coal mine methane explosion
Shanxi, China
2000
40
coal mine methane explosion
Muchonggou, Guizhou, China
2000
162
coal mine methane explosion
Zasyadko, Donetsk, E.Ukraine
2001
55

 coal mine methane explosion 

Jixi, China
2002
115
coal mine methane explosion
Gaoqiao, SW China
2003
234
gas well blowout with H2S
Kuzbass, Russia
2004
47
coal mine methane explosion
Donbass, Ukraine
2004
36
coal mine methane explosion
Henan, China
2004
148
coal mine methane explosion
Chenjiashan, Shaanxi, China
2004
166
coal mine methane explosion
Sunjiawan, Liaoning, China
2005
215
coal mine methane explosion
Shenlong/ Fukang, Xinjiang, China
2005
83
coal mine methane explosion
Xingning, Guangdong, China
2005
123
coal mine flooding
Dongfeng, Heilongjiang, China
2005
171
coal mine methane explosion
Bhatdih, Jharkhand, India
2006
54 coal mine methane explosion
Ulyanoyskaya, Kuzbass, Russia 2007 150 coal mine methane or dust explosion
Zhangzhuang, Shandong, China 2007 181 coal mine flooding
Zasyadko, Donetsk, E.Ukraine 2007

101

coal mine methane explosion
Linfen city, Shanxi, China 2007 105 coal mine methane explosion
Tunlan, Shanxi, China 2009 78 coal mine methane explosion
Sayano-Shushenskaya, Khakassia, Russia 2009 75 hydro power plant turbine disintegration
Hegang city, Heilongjiang, China
2009 108 coal mine methane explosion
Sangha, Bukavu, Congo 2010 235 petrol tanker accident and fire
Deepwater Horizon, Gulf of Mexico, USA 2010 11 Oil well blowout, over 4 million barrels of oil caused massive pollution in Gulf of Mexico 
Pike River, New Zealand 2010 29 coal mine methane explosion
Taozigou, Sichuan, China 2013 28 coal mine methane explosion

LPG and oil accidents with less than 300 fatalities, and coal mine accidents with less than 100 fatalities are generally not shown unless recent.

Coal mining deaths range from 0.009 per million tonnes of coal mined in Australia through 0.034 in USA to more than 1 in China and in Ukraine.  China’s death rate in 2008 fell to 1.182 per million tonnes of coal mined, compared with 1.485 in 2007, and 3.08 in 2005. (http://www.icem.org/en/76-China-Mine-Safety)

China's total death toll from coal mining to 2008 averaged well over 4000 per year - official figures give 5300 in 2000, 5670 in 2001 and 6995 in 2003, 6027 in 2004, about 6000 in 2005, 4746 in 2006, 3786 in 2007, 3210 in 2008, 2631 in 2009, 2433 in 2010, 1973 in 2011 and ‘over 1300’ in 2012. These data omit the small illegal collieries – Xinhua reports that authorities plant to close 20,000 small unlicensed collieries by 2015.  However, the picture is improving: in the 1950s the annual death toll in world coal mines was 70,000, in the 1980s it was 40,000 and 1990s it was 10,000. Ukraine's coal mine death toll has been over two hundred per year (eg. 1999: 274, 1998: 360, 1995: 339, 1992: 459).

In Australia 281 coal miners have been killed in 18 major disasters since 1902, and there have been 112 deaths in NSW mines since 1979, though the Australian coal mining industry is considered the safest in the world. The USA, the world’s second-biggest producer, recorded 48 coal mining deaths in 2010.

 Sources: contemporary media reports, Paul Scherrer Inst, 1998 report:, China State Admin. of Work Safety Bulletin.

 Appendix 2. Serious nuclear reactor accidents

Serious accidents in military, research and commercial reactors. All except Browns Ferry and Vandellos involved damage to or malfunction of the reactor core. At Browns Ferry a fire damaged control cables and resulted in an 18-month shutdown for repairs, at Vandellos a turbine fire made the 17-year old plant uneconomic to repair.

Reactor Date Immediate Deaths Environmental effect Follow-up action
NRX, Chalk R., Canada (experimental, 40 MWt)
1952
Nil
Nil
Repaired (new core) closed 1992
Windscale-1, UK (military plutonium-producing pile)
1957
Nil
Widespread contamination. Farms affected (c 1.5 PBq released)
Entombed (filled with concrete) Being demolished.
SL-1, USA (experimental, military, 3 MWt)
1961
Three operators
Very minor radioactive release
Decommissioned

Fermi-1 USA (experimental breeder, 66 MWe)
1966
Nil
Nil
Repaired and restarted, then closed in 1972
Lucens, Switzerland (experimental, 7.5 MWe)
1969
Nil
Very minor radioactive release
Decommissioned
Browns Ferry, USA (commercial, 2 x 1080 MWe)
1975
Nil
Nil
Repaired
Three-Mile Island-2, USA (commercial, 880 MWe)
1979
Nil
Minor short-term radiation dose (within ICRP limits) to public, delayed release of 200  TBq of Kr-85
Clean-up program complete, in monitored storage stage of decommissioning
Saint Laurent-A2, France (commercial, 450 MWe)
1980
Nil
Minor radiation release (80 GBq)
Repaired, (Decomm. 1992)
Chernobyl-4, Ukraine (commercial, 950 MWe)
1986
47 staff and firefighters (32 immediate)
Major radiation release across E. Europe and Scandinavia (14 EBq or 5.2 EBq I-131 equivalent)
Entombed
Vandellos-1, Spain (commercial, 480 MWe)
1989
Nil
Nil
Decommissioned
Greifswald-5, E.Germany (commercial, 440 MWe) 1989 Nil Nil Decommissioned
Fukushima 1-3, Japan
(commercial, 1959 MWe)
2011 Nil significant local contamination (630 PBq I-131 equivalent) Decommissioned 

 Criticality and chemical accidents releasing radioactivity

The well publicised accident at Tokai-mura, Japan, in 1999 was at a fuel preparation plant for experimental reactors, and killed two people from radiation exposure. Many other such criticality accidents have occurred, some fatal, and practically all in military facilities prior to 1980.

There was a major chemical accident at Mayak Chemical Combine (then known as Chelyabinsk-40) near Kyshtym in Russia in 1957. The failure of the cooling system for a tank storing many tonnes of dissolved nuclear waste resulted in an explosion due to ammonium nitrate having a force estimated at about 75 tonnes of TNT (310 GJ). This ‘Kyshtym accident’ killed perhaps 200 people and released some 740-800 PBq of radioactivity, affecting thousands more.

 Appendix 3 Nuclear Energy Institute briefing on Nuclear Plant Security:

Extensive security measures protect U.S. nuclear plants from sabotage. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission regulations require nuclear power plants to take adequate measures to protect the public from the possibility of exposure to radioactive release caused by acts of sabotage. These measures include:

  • the physical construction of the containment building for the reactor,
  • security personnel, procedures, and surveillance equipment, and
  • security clearance background checks and daily monitoring for plant employees.

 Reactor containment buildings are designed to be impervious to catastrophes. Nuclear power plants containment buildings, in which the reactors are located, are extremely robust. Reinforced concrete containment structures, coupled with multiple, redundant safety and plant shutdown systems, have been designed to withstand the impact of hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and airborne objects up to a certain force. Design requirements with respect to aircraft impacts are specific to each facility.

 Fortified physical barriers at nuclear plants resist penetration. For a release of radiation to occur, several layers of protection must be penetrated, including the containment structure, which is typically protected by about 1.2 metres (4 ft) of reinforced concrete with a steel liner, and the reactor vessel, which is made of steel that is about 150mm (6 inches) in thickness.

 Armed security force and advanced surveillance equipment protect each nuclear plant. Every nuclear plant deploys armed security guards on the grounds of the plant around the clock. These highly trained security personnel are assisted in their work by sophisticated electronic surveillance equipment that scans the area surrounding the plant.

 Nuclear plant security forces and procedures continually tested in mock drills. Federal regulations require that the industry demonstrate it can protect against a threat by a well-trained paramilitary force intent on forcing its way into a nuclear power plant to commit sabotage, armed with automatic weapons and explosives, with the assistance of an insider who could pass along information and help the attackers. In mock drills conducted periodically under NRC supervision and evaluation, highly skilled, professionally trained intruders make direct frontal attacks on the nuclear plants. They are provided with all information about the plant including the location of and pathway to vital equipment, as if they had been previously informed by an insider, and proceed to attempt to reach the equipment to disable it. If a drill the energy company chooses to stage is not sufficiently rigorous, the company would be cited for a violation of NRC regulations. The NRC evaluates the efficiency of the plant's security measures, and any necessary enhancements are implemented.

 Nuclear plant personnel procedures protect from internal threats. All nuclear power plants have programs that protect against the potential threat that plant personnel may be, or may aid, terrorists. New employees and contractor employees must pass stringent background checks regarding employment, education, and criminal histories as well as drug and alcohol screening tests and psychological evaluations. Anyone appearing to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or exhibiting erratic behavior, will be immediately removed from the work area for evaluation. In addition, the NRC requires energy companies to conduct random drug and alcohol tests of at least 50 percent of all employees annually. Nuclear plant employees are also subject to continual behavioral observation programs by trained supervisors and are provided counseling for job-related issues or unusual behavior.

 FBI: nuclear plants are "hardened" targets. Because of the industry's security programs and the defense in depth safety strategy, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation classifies nuclear power plants as "hardened" targets. NRC Commissioner Edward McGaffigan said recently, "There are threats to the nation. But outside the military, [the nuclear energy] industry is probably the best at protecting its assets" (March 3, 1999).