Nuclear and radiation accidents by death toll

Nuclear and radiation accidents by death toll

There have been more than 20 nuclear and radiation accidents involving fatalities. These involved nuclear power plant accidents, nuclear submarine accidents, radiotherapy accidents, and other mishaps.


Chernobyl disaster

4,000 fatalities[1][2]Chernobyl disaster, Ukraine, April 26, 1986. 56 direct deaths (47 accident workers, and nine children with thyroid cancer), and it is estimated that there were 4,000 extra cancer deaths among the approximately 600,000 most highly exposed people.[3]

Estimates of the total number of deaths potentially resulting from the Chernobyl disaster vary enormously: Thirty one deaths are directly attributed to the accident, all among the reactor staff and emergency workers.[4] A UNSCEAR report places the total confirmed deaths from radiation at 64 as of 2008. The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests it could reach 4,000 civilian deaths, a figure which does not include military clean-up worker casualties.[5] A 2006 report predicted 30,000 to 60,000 cancer deaths as a result of Chernobyl fallout.[6] A Greenpeace report puts this figure at 200,000 or more.[7] A Russian publication, Chernobyl, concludes that 985,000 premature cancer deaths occurred worldwide between 1986 and 2004 as a result of radioactive contamination from Chernobyl.[8]

Fukushima disaster

Frank N. von Hippel, 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.[9]

Mayak explosion

200+ fatalities – Mayak nuclear waste storage tank explosion, (Chelyabinsk, Soviet Union, 29 September 1957), figure is a conservative estimate, 270,000 people were exposed to dangerous radiation levels. Over thirty small communities had been removed from Soviet maps between 1958 and 1991.[10]

Windscale fire

33+ cancer fatalities (estimated by UK government)[11][12] – Windscale, United Kingdom, October 8, 1957. Fire ignites plutonium piles and contaminates surrounding dairy farms.[11][12]. 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 of Panama, August 2000 – March 2001. Patients receiving treatment for prostate cancer and cancer of the cervix receive lethal doses of radiation.[13][14]
  • 13 fatalities – Radiotherapy accident in Costa Rica, 1996. 114 patients received an overdose of radiation from a Cobalt-60 source that was being used for radiotherapy.[15]
  • 11 fatalities – Radiotherapy accident in Zaragoza, Spain, December 1990. Cancer patients receiving radiotherapy; 27 patients were injured.[16]
  • 10 fatalities – Soviet submarine K-431 reactor accident, August 10, 1985. 49 people suffered radiation injuries.[17]
  • 10 fatalities – Columbus radiotherapy accident, 1974–1976, 88 injuries from Cobalt-60 source.[14][18]
  • 9 fatalities – Soviet submarine K-27 reactor accident, 24 May 1968. 83 people were injured.[14]
  • 8 fatalities – Soviet submarine K-19 reactor accident, July 4, 1961. More than 30 people were over-exposed to radiation.[16]
  • 8 fatalities – Radiation accident in Morocco, March 1984.[19]
  • 7 fatalities – Houston radiotherapy accident, 1980.[14][18]
  • 5 fatalities – Lost radiation source, Baku, Azerbaijan, USSR, October 5, 1982. 13 injuries.[14]
  • 4 fatalities – Mihama Nuclear Power Plant accident, August 9, 2004. Hot water and steam leaked from a broken pipe. [20]
  • 4 fatalities – Goiânia accident, September 13, 1987. 249 people received serious radiation contamination from lost radiography source.[21]
  • 4 fatalities – Radiation accident in Mexico City, 1962.
  • 3 fatalities – SL-1 accident (US Army) 1961.
  • 3 fatalities – Three deaths and ten injuries resulted in Samut Prakarn, Thailand when a radiation-therapy unit was dismantled, February 2000.[22]
  • 2 fatalities – Tokaimura nuclear accident, nuclear fuel reprocessing plant. Japan, September 30, 1999.[23]
  • 1 fatality – Mayapuri radiological accident, India, April 2010.[22]
  • 1 fatality – Daigo Fukuryū Maru March 1, 1954
  • 1 fatality – Louis Slotin May 21, 1946
  • 1 fatality – Harry K. Daghlian, Jr., August 21, 1945 at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.
  • 1 fatality – Cecil Kelley criticality accident, December 30, 1958 at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.[24]
  • 1 fatality – Malfunction INES level 4 at RA2 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, operator Osvaldo Rogulich dies days later.

See also


  1. ^ Benjamin K. Sovacool. The costs of failure: A preliminary assessment of major energy accidents, 1907–2007, Energy Policy 36 (2008), p. 1806.
  2. ^ Benjamin K. Sovacool. A Critical Evaluation of Nuclear Power and Renewable Electricity in Asia, Journal of Contemporary Asia, Vol. 40, No. 3, August 2010, p. 396.
  3. ^ "IAEA Report". In Focus: Chernobyl. Retrieved 2008-05-31. 
  4. ^ Hallenbeck, William H (1994). Radiation Protection. CRC Press. p. 15. ISBN 0-873-719-964. "Reported thus far are 237 cases of acute radiation sickness and 31 deaths." 
  5. ^ "Chernobyl: the true scale of the accident". Chernobyl’s Legacy: Health, Environmental and Socio-Economic Impacts. Retrieved 2011-04-15. 
  6. ^ "Torch: The Other Report On Chernobyl- executive summary". European Greens and UK scientists Ian Fairlie PhD and David Sumner - April 2006. Retrieved 2011-08-20. 
  7. ^ "The Chernobyl Catastrophe - Consequences on Human Health". Greenpeace. 18 April 2006. Retrieved 15 December 2008. 
  8. ^ Alexey V. Yablokov; Vassily B. Nesterenko; Alexey V. Nesterenko (2009). Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment (Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences) (paperback ed.). Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 978-1573317573. 
  9. ^ Frank N. von Hippel (September/October 2011 vol. 67 no. 5). "The radiological and psychological consequences of the Fukushima Daiichi accident". Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. p. 27-36. 
  10. ^ Samuel Upton Newtan. Nuclear War I and Other Major Nuclear Disasters of the 20th Century 2007, pp. 237–240.
  11. ^ a b Perhaps the Worst, Not the First TIME magazine, May 12, 1986.
  12. ^ a b Benjamin K. Sovacool. A Critical Evaluation of Nuclear Power and Renewable Electricity in Asia, Journal of Contemporary Asia, Vol. 40, No. 3, August 2010, p. 393.
  13. ^ Investigation of an accidental Exposure of radiotherapy patients in Panama - International Atomic Energy Agency
  14. ^ a b c d e Johnston, Robert (September 23, 2007). "Deadliest radiation accidents and other events causing radiation casualties". Database of Radiological Incidents and Related Events. 
  15. ^ Medical management of radiation accidents pp. 299 & 303.
  16. ^ a b Strengthening the Safety of Radiation Sources p. 15.
  17. ^ The Worst Nuclear Disasters
  18. ^ a b Ricks, Robert C. et al. (2000). "REAC/TS Radiation Accident Registry: Update of Accidents in the United States". International Radiation Protection Association. p. 6. 
  19. ^ Lost Iridium-192 Source
  20. ^ Facts and Details on Nuclear energy in Japan
  21. ^ The Radiological Accident in Goiania p. 2.
  22. ^ a b Pallava Bagla. "Radiation Accident a 'Wake-Up Call' For India's Scientific Community" Science, Vol. 328, 7 May 2010, p. 679.
  23. ^ Benjamin K. Sovacool. A Critical Evaluation of Nuclear Power and Renewable Electricity in Asia, Journal of Contemporary Asia, Vol. 40, No. 3, August 2010, p. 399.
  24. ^ McInroy, James F. (1995), "A true measure of plutonium exposure: the human tissue analysis program at Los Alamos", Los Alamos Science 23: 235–255, 

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