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NUCLEAR ACCIDENTS

Dr. Salman Ahmed Khan


Principal Engineer
Karachi Institute of Power Engineering
Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission

NUCLEAR ACCIDENTS

An event that has


led to significant
consequences to
people, the
environment or the

NUCLEAR ACCIDENTS
Examples include lethal effects to
individuals,
large
radioactivity
release to the environment, or
reactor core melt.
The prime example of a "major
nuclear accident" is one in which a
reactor core is damaged and
significant
amounts
of
radioactivity are released, such as

INTERNATIONAL NUCLEAR
EVENT SCALE
Introduced
in
1990
by
the
International Atomic Energy Agency
(IAEA).
In
order
to
enable
prompt
communication of safety-significant
information in case of nuclear
accidents.

INTERNATIONAL NUCLEAR
EVENT SCALE
The scale is intended to be logarithmic, similar to the
moment magnitude scale that is used to describe the
comparative magnitude of earthquakes. Each
increasing
level
represents
an
accident
approximately ten times more severe than the
previous level. Compared to earthquakes, where the
event intensity can be quantitatively evaluated, the
level of severity of aman-made disaster, such as a
nuclear accident, is more subject to interpretation.
Because of the difficulty of interpreting, the INES
level of an incident is assigned well after the incident
occurs. Therefore, the scale has a very limited ability
to assist in disaster-aid deployment.

INTERNATIONAL NUCLEAR
EVENT SCALE

INTERNATIONAL NUCLEAR
EVENT SCALE
As INES ratings are not assigned by a
central body, high-profile nuclear
incidents are sometimes assigned
INES ratings by the operator, by the
formal body of the country, but also
by scientific institutes, international
authorities or other experts which
may lead to confusion as to the
actual severity.

Level 7: Major accident


Impact on people and environment
Major release of radioactive material
with
widespread
health
and
environmental
effects
requiring
implementation
of
planned
and
extended countermeasures

Level 7: Major accident


There have been two such events to date:
1.

Chernobyl disaster, 26 April 1986. A power surge


during a test procedure resulted in a criticality
accident, leading to a powerful steam explosion and
fire that released a significant fraction of core material
into the environment, resulting in a death toll of 56 as
well as estimated 4,000 additional cancer fatalities
(official WHO estimate) among people exposed to
elevated doses of radiation. As a result, the city of
Chernobyl (pop. 14,000) was largely abandoned, the
larger city of Pripyat (pop. 49,400) was completely
abandoned, and a permanent 30 kilometres (19 mi)
exclusion zone around the reactor was established.

Level 7: Major accident


2. Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, a
series of events beginning on 11 March
2011. A month later the Japanese
government's nuclear safety agency rated
it level 7. Major damage to the backup
power and containment systems caused by
the 2011 Thoku earthquake and tsunami
resulted in overheating and leaking from
some of the Fukushima I nuclear plant's
reactors. Each reactor accident was rated
separately; out of the six reactors, three
were rated level 5, one was rated at a level

Level 7: Major accident


A temporary exclusion zone of 20
kilometres (12 mi) was established
around the plant as well as a 30
kilometres (19 mi) voluntary
evacuation zone; In addition, the
evacuation of Tokyo Japan's capital
and the world's most populous
metropolitan area, 225 kilometres
(140 mi) away was at one point
considered.

Level 6: Serious accident


Impact on people and environment
1. Significant release
material
likely
implementation
countermeasures.

of radioactive
to
require
of
planned

Level 6: Serious accident


There has been only one such event to date:
1. Kyshtym disaster at Mayak Chemical Combine
(MCC) Soviet Union, 29 September 1957. A
failed cooling system at a military nuclear
waste reprocessing facility caused an explosion
with a force equivalent to 70-100 tons of TNT.
About 70 to 80 metric tons of highly radioactive
material were carried into the surrounding
environment. The impact on local population is
not fully known, but at least 22 villages were
affected with deadly doses.

Level 5: Accident with wider


consequences
Impact on people and environment
1. Limited release of radioactive material likely to
require implementation of some planned
countermeasures.
2. Several deaths from radiation.

Impact on radiological barriers and control


1. Severe damage to reactor core.
2. Release of large quantities of radioactive material
within an installation with a high probability of
significant public exposure. This could arise from a
major criticality accident or fire.

Level 5: Accident with wider


consequences
Windscale fire (UK), 10 October 1957. Annealing
of graphite moderator at a military air-cooled
reactor caused the graphite and the metallic
uranium fuel to catch fire, releasing radioactive
pile material as dust into the environment.
Three Mile Island accident (Pennsylvania, US),
28 March 1979. A combination of design and
operator errors caused a gradual loss of
coolant, leading to a partial meltdown. An
unknown amount of radioactive gases were
released into the atmosphere, so injuries and
sicknesses that have been attributed to this
accident can be deduced from epidemiological

Level 5: Accident with wider


consequences
First Chalk River accident, Chalk River, Ontario
(Canada), 12 December 1952. Reactor core
damaged.
Lucens partial core meltdown (Switzerland), 21
January 1969. A test reactor built in an
underground cavern suffered a loss-of-coolant
accident during a startup, leading to a partial
core meltdown and massive radioactive
contamination of the cavern, which was then
sealed.
Goinia accident (Brazil), 13 September 1987.
An unsecured caesium chloride radiation source
left in an abandoned hospital was recovered by

Level 4: Accident with local


consequences
Impact on people and environment
1. Minor release of radioactive material unlikely to
result
in
implementation
of
planned
countermeasures other than local food controls.
2. At least one death from radiation.

Impact on radiological barriers and control


1. Fuel melt or damage to fuel resulting in more
than 0.1% release of core inventory.
2. Release of significant quantities of radioactive
material within an installation with a high
probability of significant public exposure.

Level 4: Accident with local


consequences
Sellafield (UK), five incidents from 1955 to 1979.
SL-1 Experimental Power Station (US) 1961, reactor
reached prompt criticality, killing three operators.
Saint-Laurent Nuclear Power Plant (France) 1969, partial
core meltdown; 1980, graphite overheating.
Buenos Aires (Argentina) 1983, criticality accident on
research reactor RA-2 during fuel rod rearrangement killed
one operator and injured two others.
Jaslovsk Bohunice (Czechoslovakia) 1977, contamination
of reactor building.
Tokaimura nuclear accident (Japan) 1999, three
inexperienced operators at a reprocessing facility caused a
criticality accident; two of them died.

Level 3: Serious incident


Impact on people and environment
1. Exposure in excess of ten times the
statutory annual limit for workers.
2. Non-lethal deterministic health effect (e.g.,
burns) from radiation.

Impact on radiological barriers and


control
1. Exposure rates of more than 1 Sv/h in an
operating area.
2. Severe contamination in an area not
expected by design, with a low probability
of significant public exposure.

Level 3: Serious incident


Impact on defence-in-depth
1. Near-accident at a nuclear power
plant with no safety provisions
remaining.
2. Lost or stolen highly radioactive
sealed source.
3. Misdelivered highly radioactive
sealed source without adequate
procedures in place to handle it.

Level 3: Serious incident


THORP plant, Sellafield (UK) 2005.
Paks Nuclear Power Plant (Hungary), 2003; fuel
rod damage in cleaning tank.
Vandellos Nuclear Power Plant (Spain), 1989;
fire destroyed many control systems; the
reactor was shut down.
Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station (US), 2002;
negligent inspections resulted in corrosion
through 6 inches (15.24 cm) of the carbon steel
reactor head leaving only 38 inch (9.5 mm) of
stainless steel cladding holding back the highpressure (~2500 psi, 17 MPa) reactor coolant.

Level 2: Incident
Impact on people and environment.
1. Exposure of a member of the public in
excess of 10 mSv.
2. Exposure of a worker in excess of the
statutory annual limits.

Impact on radiological barriers and


control
1. Radiation levels in an operating area of
more than 50 mSv/h.
2. Significant contamination within the
facility into an area not expected by

Level 2: Incident
Impact on defence-in-depth
1. Significant failures in safety
provisions but with no actual
consequences.
2. Found
highly
radioactive
sealed orphan source, device
or transport package with
safety provisions intact.
3. Inadequate packaging of a

Level 2: Incident
Blayais Nuclear Power Plant flood
(France) December 1999
Asc Nuclear Power Plant (Spain)
April
2008;
radioactive
contamination.
Forsmark
Nuclear
Power
Plant
(Sweden)
July
2006;
backup
generator failure; two were online
but fault could have caused all four
to fail.

Level 2: Incident
Gundremmingen Nuclear Power Plant
(Germany) 1977; weather caused
short-circuit of high-tension power
lines and rapid shutdown of reactor
Shika Nuclear Power Plant (Japan)
1999; criticality incident caused by
dropped control rods, covered up
until 2007

Level 1: Anomaly
Impact on defence-in-depth
Overexposure of a member of the public
in excess of statutory annual limits.
Minor problems with safety components
with
significant
defence-in-depth
remaining.
Low activity lost or stolen radioactive
source, device or transport package.
(Arrangements for reporting minor
events to the public differ from country
to country. It is difficult to ensure precise

Level 1: Anomaly
Penly (Seine-Maritime, France) 5 April
2012; an abnormal leak on the primary
circuit of the reactor n2 was found in
the evening of 5 April 2012 after a fire
in reactor n2 around noon was
extinguished.
Gravelines (Nord, France), 8 August
2009; during the annual fuel bundle
exchange in reactor #1, a fuel bundle
snagged on to the internal structure.
Operations were stopped, the reactor

Level 1: Anomaly
TNPC (Drme, France), July 2008;
leak of 18,000 litres (4,000 imp gal;
4,800 US gal) of water containing 75
kilograms (165 lb) of unenriched
uranium into the environment.

Level 0: Deviation
No safety significance.

Level 0: Deviation
4 June 2008: Krko, Slovenia:
Leakage from the primary cooling
circuit.
17
December
2006,
Atucha,
Argentina: Reactor shutdown due to
tritium
increase
in
reactor
compartment.
13 February 2006: Fire in Nuclear
Waste Volume Reduction Facilities of
the Japanese Atomic Energy Agency

Out of scale
There are also events of no safety
relevance, characterized as "out of
scale".

Out of scale
17 November 2002, Natural Uranium
Oxide Fuel Plant at the Nuclear Fuel
Complex in Hyderabad, India: A
chemical
explosion
at
a
fuel
fabrication facility.
29 September 1999 (H.B. Robinson,
US), A tornado sighting within the
protected area of the nuclear power
plant.
5 March 1999 (San Onofre, US),