A History of Nuclear Power Plant Accidents

Daniel Snyder
Idaho State University
Department of Physics

The release of radiation from a commercial nuclear power plant facility can be detrimental to workers and the surrounding community if an unplanned accident were to occur.  Throughout the last 50 years, several major nuclear power plant accidents have occurred that proved to be both tragic and beneficial to mankind.  The tragedy involves those that have died as a result of these accidents, while the benefits of these catastrophes have prevented them from happening again.  Many of these nuclear accidents occurred due to human error and could have been controlled.  The nuclear accidents that are discussed include: Chalk River (Canada, 1952), Three Mile Island (Pennsylvania, 1979), Chernobyl (Ukraine, 1986) and Tokaimura (Japan, 1999).  Each case study will involve how the accident started, what actions were performed to control the hazard, the effects of the accident, and finally, the aftermath effects.  A collective survey of lessons learned from these disasters will also be discussed.