10 Worst Nuclear Accidents/Disasters in History

5. Soviet Submarine K-431 Accident – August 10, 1985

Soviet Submarine K 431 Accident - August 10, 1985.jpg
Soviet Submarine K 431 Accident – August 10, 1985
The Echo II class Soviet submarine K431 suffered a massive explosion during refuelling in Vladivostok, Russia. The explosion produced a radioactive cloud of gas into the air. Ten sailors were killed in the incident and 49 people were observed to have radiation injuries with with 10 developing radiation sickness. Moreover Of the 2,000 involved in cleanup operations, 290 were exposed to high levels of radiation compared to normal standards. TIME magazine has identified the accident as one of the world’s “worst nuclear disasters”.


4. Mayak Nuclear Plant – September 29, 1957

Mayak Nuclear Plant - 1957
Mayak Nuclear Plant – 1957
Mayak Nuclear Plant, also known as Chelyabinsk-40 and later as Chelyabinsk-65 is one of the biggest nuclear facilities in the Russian Federation.  It is an integral part of the Russian nuclear weapon program. The facility has experienced 20 or more accidents affecting at least half a million people in the past 45 years. The most notable accident occurred on 29th September, 1957 exposing the Soviets Regiems secret. The failure of the cooling system for a tank storing tens of thousands of tons of dissolved nuclear waste resulted in a chemical (non-nuclear) explosion having a force estimated at about 75 tons of TNT (310 gigajoules), which released some 2 million curies of radioactivity over 15,000 sq. miles affecting at least 200 people died of radiation sickness, 10,000 people were evacuated from their homes, and 470,000 people were exposed to radiation. Victims were seen with skin ‘sloughing off’ their faces, hands and other exposed parts of their bodies. A large area was left barren and unusable for decades and maybe centuries. The accident caused a large number of fatalities, thousands were injured and surrounding areas were evacuated. It is categorized as a level 6 “serious accident” on the 0-7 International Nuclear Events Scale.


3. Chernobyl Disaster – April 26, 1986

Chernobyl Disaster April 26 1986

Chernobyl Disaster – April 26 1986
The Chernobyl disaster was a nuclear accident that occurred on 26 April 1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the Ukrainian SSR (now Ukraine).  The accident took place in the reactor number 4 near the Pripyat town. There was a sudden power output surge, and when an emergency shutdown was attempted, a more extreme spike in power output occurred. This led to a reactor vessel rupture which caused a series of explosions. Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine were seriously affected and about 60% of the fallout landed in Belarus. From 1986 to 2000, 350,400 people were evacuated and resettled from the most severely contaminated areas of Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine. World Health Organization (WHO) estimates the number of deaths to be 4,000 while a Greenpeace report puts this figure at 200,000 or more. Among these varied figures 31 deaths were confirmed to be caused by the accident. The World Health Organization reported the radiation release from the Chernobyl accident to be 200 times that of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombs combined. It is considered the most serious nuclear power plant accident in history, and is the only accident classified as a level 7 event on the International Nuclear Event Scale.


2. Fukushima Disaster – March 11, 2011

Fukushima Disaster - March, 11 2011
Fukushima Disaster – March, 11 2011
A massive 8.9-magnitude quake hit northeast Japan on Friday, causing dozens of deaths, more than 80 fires, and a 10-meter (33-ft) tsunami along parts of the country’s coastline. Homes were swept away and damage was extensive. And the disaster didn’t end with this. Eleven reactors at four sites near Japan’s northeast coast were shut down per seismic emergency procedures. Five reactors at two sites in the Fukushima prefecture declared emergencies due to loss of normal site power and backup emergency power. According to a British nuclear expert the explosion at the Fukushima I nuclear plant looks likely to be a “significant nuclear event” with a bigger impact on public health than the 1979 meltdown at Three Mile Island. As of 15 March, the Finnish nuclear safety authority estimated the accidents at Fukushima to be at Level 6 on the INES.  On 24 March, a scientific consultant for Greenpeace, working with data from the Austrian ZAMG and French IRSN, prepared an analysis in which he rated the total Fukushima I accident at INES level 7. The accident caused nuclear contamination in the surrounding environment, water, milk, vegetable and other food items.  People living in surroundings were moved to safe shelters and food grown in the area was banned for sale. The Japanese government in handling the situation in the most efficient and amazing way that anyone can imagine. Screening is being done and people are given proper medical care. Initially 3 workers were affected by the radiation.


1. Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki – World War II, 1945

Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki - World War II, 1945
Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki – World War II, 1945
These nuclear disasters were not accidents but an ugly example of human wrath and violence. It was a  result of the war between two big powers of the world. During the final stages of World War II in 1945, the United States conducted two atomic bombings against the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, the first on August 6, 1945 and the second on August 9, 1945. This nuclear disaster caused innumerable deaths and serious physical, emotional and genetic problems which were faced by many generations. Families were destroyed and people lost their loved ones, home and money all in one day. Within the first two to four months of the bombings, the acute effects killed 90,000–166,000 people in Hiroshima and 60,000–80,000 in Nagasaki. 15–20% died from radiation sickness, 20–30% from flash burns, and 50–60% from other injuries, compounded by illness. Roughly half of the deaths in each city occurring on the first day. A study states that from 1950 to 2000, 46% of leukemia deaths and 11% of solid cancer deaths among bomb survivors were due to radiation from the bombs. Even after such a huge scale disaster and setback, the Japanese people faced this situation with courage and resolution and made Japan one of the leading countries of the world.

2 thoughts on “10 Worst Nuclear Accidents/Disasters in History

  1. Your readers may also be interested to hear the six month assessment of President Konoe of the Japanese Red Cross Society in his “Six Months on from the Great East Japan Earthquake” as he reports on the triple disasters of the earthquake, .tsunami and the meltdown and radiation released from 3 of the 6 nuclear plants at the Fukushima Daiichi facility built on the coast:

    International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies Youtube Channel:

    As he says, “we are only just at the beginning of it” here in Japan. Keep the support coming please.

    Your readers may also like to see some other positive and realistic reports on the need for psychosocial support for the millions of survivors of these triple disasters, many of whom may well in time, require the legal assessment, diagnosis and treatment of PTSD, depression and other mental disorders Japan’s 100,000 + licensed mental health care professionals in Japan:

    Mental Psychological Care Japan Tsunami Earthquakehttp://bit.ly/n2DqfN via @addthis Nick Jones’ article in International Red Cross Magazine

    Mending Minds by Nick Jones (in English)

    International Red Cross magazine reports on mental health professionals counseling therapy post Japan earthquakehttp://www.redcross.int/EN/mag/magazine2011_2/24-25.html


    With kindest regards from Tokyo


  2. Some of these death estimates are ridiculous. Chernobyl is particularly at error. In fact, two studies done on wildlife living in the area have shown almost no radiation-based genetic anomalies. Meanwhile, 60 million died in WW2, only a small fraction from the atom bombs and people live happily today in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

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