Nuclear meltdowns is a severe nuclear reactor accident that leads to core damage from overheating. These are often caused by coolant related incidents, like loss of coolant, low coolant rate, and loss of coolant pressure. When nuclear meltdowns happen it often leads to dangerous explosions, and radiation leakage. Although the explosions look deadly, the real danger is the radiation. Radiation can spread very far very quickly, in some meltdowns reaching across entire countries. Symptoms of radiation poisoning can include spontaneous bleeding, bloody diarrhea, and severe fatigue. You can start to feel symptoms of radiation when taking in as low as 35 rads.


Chernobyl Ukraine

A radioactive sign hangs on barbed wire outside a café in Pripyat.


Chernobyl’s fourth nuclear reactor melted down on April 26th, 1986 which leaked an enormous amount of radiation that’s still here today and will not disappear for years. Chernobyl was one of the worst nuclear disasters in history, the only other one to rival it is Fukushima, they were both level 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale. The reactor is now trapped in a container to keep radiation from spreading, however the current container is corroding and a new one will be needed soon. At least 100 times more radiation was released here than the nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima, and Nagasaki.


K-19 Submarine


This submarine was hastily built by the soviets in an attempt to catch up with the US. The vessel was prone to bad luck before it even launched. Before it launched 10 civilian workers and a sailor died because of accidents and fires. When the ceremonial champagne bottle was smashed across the stern, the bottle refused to break and simply bounced off the hull which is a sign of bad luck. On it’s first voyage it lost it’s coolant for the reactor, the captain ordered the man to solve it any way possible, several men sacrificed themselves to fix it by exposing themselves to radiation. The entire crew was irradiated, as well as most of the ship, and some of the ballistic missiles.


Middletown Pennsylvania Meltdown

This horrific incident was caused by human error, the human operators failed to realize the situation was a loss-of-coolant-accident. If the employees were better trained the incident may not have happened. Not one but two nuclear reactor meltdowns occurred in this incident, the results were devastating and caused activists to speak out about it. The event lasted for two days leaving the public scared and confused. Statements given on the incident were contradictory and confusing, meaning people didn’t know what to think. Although some radiation leaked to the public it wasn’t enough to cause any harm.


Kyshtym Russia

This was the third most destructive nuclear meltdown in history. When World War II ended the soviet union was falling behind America in nuclear weapons production. Russia wanted to catch up and made many hasty, and dangerous decisions that often backfired, this was one of them. There were six reactors on lake Kyszyltash, which would purposefully leak contaminated water straight into the lake. The highly radioactive waste eventually made it’s way into the Arctic ocean. In 1956 the cooling system failed, and much of the radioactive material exploded resulting in an explosions equivalent to 100 tons of TNT.


The Windscale Fire, UK

Radiation leaked across the UK, and even made it to Europe. The leaked radioactive Isotope can lead to thyroid cancer, and it’s estimated that the incident caused 240 cancer cases. There were no evacuations but any nearby milk was found and destroyed for about a month, they were worried nearby milk might be dangerously contaminated. The foreman began to suspect it was on fire when they spotted unusual smoke. Their first attempt to put out the fire was speed up the fans and blow it out, this unknowingly fanned the flames causing the fire to worsen.


Goiania Accident, Brazil

This radioactive contamination incident happened after a radiotherapy source was stolen from an old abandoned hospital site. After stealing this radioactive material it made it’s way around the city and 112,000 people had to be checked for contamination. Four people died, and 249 people had significant levels of radioactive material in or on their body. Two thieves entered the site because it was unguarded, they hoped to find something they could sell as scrap. They took it apart and carried it back to their house in a wheelbarrow. They began to take it apart which led to vomiting and nausea. The next day they experienced diarrhoea, dizziness and swollen appendages.


SL-1 Experimental Power Station, Idaho USA


This Experimental Nuclear Power Reactor in the United States exploded suffered a steam explosion, and meltdown in 1961. This is the only nuclear meltdown in America that caused instant deaths, the three operators all died. After the authorities were alerted and went to investigate the scene they found the the central control rod had been manually removed which caused the reactivity to increase dramatically, which led to the steam explosion. Authorities had already been sent there several times by false alarms, and believed the last alarm to be false as well, at first they found nothing unusual but they then noticed that the radiation levels were at the maximum levels, and eventually they found the bodies.


Buenos Aires Nuclear Accident




The operator of this plant committed a fatal mistake that cost him his life after two days of unimaginable pain, from radiation poisoning. 17 people outside the plant also absorbed some radiation, luckily for them it was only ranging from 1 to 35 rads. 35 rads or lower normally isn’t enough to kill someone but it could cause vomiting and nausea. While the operator was changing the fuel elements when the reactor assembly began to meltdown. The operator received over 1900 rads from gamma, and neutron rays.


Tokaimura, Japan



In this incident a limited uncontrolled nuclear chain reaction caused a 119 people to absorb radiation, three operators to absorb dangerously high levels of radiation, and two people to die from radiation poisoning. At the time this was the worst civilian nuclear radiation incident to happen in Japan. The three operators committed a colossal mistake which could have been avoided easily, however the operators had no real training or qualifications to be doing the job. Evacuation started quickly after the event, not much later that day 161 within a 350km radius of the event were evacuated to a safe area. Eventually they were allowed back to their homes, and were given sandbags to shield them from the radiation.


Fukushima Japan



This is the worst Nuclear Disaster to ever happen in Japan, as well as the only one to rival Chernobyl. On the 11th March 2011 the Tohoku Earthquake, caused a tsunami, this tsunami damaged important equipment at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. The loss of this equipment resulted in a-loss-of-coolant accident. This resulted in three nuclear meltdowns, and an enormous release of deadly radiation. The government attempted to evacuate hundreds of thousands of people with a four stage evacuation program. It took two weeks for the reactors to become stable again, and by the radiation had spread all the way to the pacific ocean, and a lot of the country.


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