The Cry Baby is on sabbatical ....

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The first civilian nuclear accident was in Canada

The first civilian nuclear accident happened in Canada on December 12, 1952 at Chalk River, a Canadian nuclear research facility.  A reactor shutoff rod failure, combined with several operator errors, led to a major power excursion,  which is an accidental increasing of the nuclear chain reaction, doubling the reactor's output. Operators were able to stop the reaction in 30 seconds. The fission products  were released through the reactor stack. Irradiated light-water coolant leaked from the damaged coolant circuit into the reactor building; some 4,000 cubic meters were pumped via pipeline to a disposal area to avoid contamination of the Ottawa River. Subsequent monitoring of surrounding water sources revealed no contamination. No immediate fatalities or injuries resulted from the incident; a 1982 followup study of exposed workers showed no long-term health effects.  One trivia face of note: Future U.S. President Jimmy Carter, then a Lieutenant in the US Navy, was a member of the clean up crew.  From Wikipedia.

Chalk River       Credit: Padraic Ryan/Wikipedia


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