Collecting soil samples from areas contaminated by the Chernobyl disaster, still radioactive decades later.
The history of the Nuclear Age is one of accidents but instead of issuing warnings or taking precautions, nuclear power plant operators and civil and military authorities try to conceal the truth. The past 50 years of nuclear operations have run on the basis of cover-ups, deception, lies, and misinformation.
Aware that they are never far away from disaster, the nuclear industry and their financial investors, have established a system that would see them avoid paying the full costs of accident. With only limited liability for accidents, the nuclear industry is able to operate in the knowledge that the costs of a nuclear catastrophe would be picked up by the taxpayer. Its likely that without such a mechanism, the nuclear industry would soon be shut down.
This does not even to take into account the daily contamination caused by radiation releases to the environment from the operation of nuclear installations. Every day, large amounts of radioactive effluents and gases are discharged, legally and illegally, into rivers and coastal waters or into the air.
The worst attrocities to date:
Sellafield, UK, 10 October 1957
A fire starts at Windscale reactor pile 1 where plutonium is generated for the British nuclear weapons program. It burns for many hours and releases large amounts of radioactive substances into the air. The radioactive cloud spreads across Europe, as far away as Switzerland. Locally, thousands of litres of contaminated milk are poured away.
Kyshtym, USSR, 29 September 1957
The failure of the cooling in a liquid waste tank causes a fire. The tank explodes, lifting off the 2.5 metre concrete lid of the underground storage bunker. Some 70-80 tons of highly radioactive substances are released. Thousands of square kilometres of land are contaminated. The accident is kept secret until the mid-70s. The names of about 30 villages and some larger towns disappear from the maps.
Harrisburg, US, 28 March 1979:
A combination of technical failures and human error leads to a partial-meltdown in the core of Unit 2 reactor of the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant. Radioactive gases are released, some 3,500 children and pregnant women are evacuated.
Chernobyl, Ukraine, 26 April 1986
During the test of a safety system in Unit 4 of the Chernobyl nuclear power station, a series of mistakes by the reactor operators leads to a core meltdown. A steam explosion blasts off the 1,000 tonne lid of the reactor. A radioactive cloud travels over Europe. In Ukraine and Byelorussia, vast areas are contaminated. The long-term effects of the radiation, in particular on children, are only just beginning to show.
Tokaimura, Japan, 30 September 1999:
In a fuel fabrication plant, two workers mix too large an amount of liquid uranium solution in a container, violating elementary safety regulations. A nuclear chain reaction starts, highly radioactive fission products are released. Two of the three workers that received very high radiation doses die after months of radiation sickness. Over 400 local people are exposed to high levels of radiation.