Quick -how many nuclear accidents can you name? Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, Fukushima …any more? There have been quite a few nuclear accidents of varying danger that you probably never heard of, including some fatal incidents. For example, in 1957, nuclear waste exploded at a reactor near the Soviet town of Ozyorsk.
One of the storage tanks contained around 70 to 80 tons of radioactive liquid waste, and its cooling mechanism stopped working and wasn’t fixed. The tank’s contents, made up mostly of ammonium nitrate and acetates, began to dry out as the liquid heated up and evaporated. Moreover, the temperature increase caused an explosion whose force was equivalent to 70 to 100 tons of TNT, and this sent huge amounts of radioactivity – roughly 20 MCi (800 PBq) – into the environment. The fallout cloud from the explosion contaminated an area of up to 7,722 square miles (20,000 square kilometers).
Over a period of nearly two years, about 10,000 people were evacuated from the surrounding area. In terms of fatalities, the exact cost of the incident is not known, but immediately around the site of the explosion there were 66 diagnosed cases of chronic radiation syndrome.
Read more about the Ozyorsk incident and nine others in a list at Tech Graffiti. Link -via the Presurfer
(Image credit: Ecodefense, Heinrich Boell Stiftung Russia, Alla Slapovskaya, Alisa Nikulina)