Nuclear mishaps


1974
Whistleblowers at the Isomedix company in New Jersey reported that radioactive water was flushed down toilets and had contaminated pipes leading to sewers. The same year a worker received a dose of radiation considered lethal, but was saved by prompt hospital treatment.

1982
International Nutronics in Dover, New Jersey, which used radiation baths to purify gems, chemicals, food, and medical supplies, experienced an accident that completely contaminated the plant, forcing its closure. A pump malfunctioned, siphoning water from the baths onto the floor; the water eventually was drained into the sewer system of the heavily populated town of Dover. The NRC wasn’t informed of the accident until ten months later — and then by a whistleblower, not the company. In 1986, the company and one of its top executives were convicted by a federal jury of conspiracy and fraud. Radiation has been detected in the vicinity of the plant, but the NRC claims the levels “aren’t hazardous.”

1986
The NRC revoked the license of a Radiation Technology, Inc. (RTI) plant in New Jersey for repeated worker safety violations. RTI was cited 32 times for various violations, including throwing radioactive garbage out with the regular trash. The most serious violation was bypassing a safety device to prevent people from entering the irradiation chamber during operation, resulting in a worker receiving a near-lethal dose of radiation.

ca. December 1991
One of four cold fusion cells in a Menlo Park, CA, laboratory exploded while being moved; electrochemist Andrew Riley was killed and three others were injured. The other three cells were buried on site, leading to rumors that a nuclear reaction had taken place. A report concluded that it was a chemical explosion; a mixture of oxygen and deuterium produced by electrolysis ignited when a catalyst was exposed. The Electric Power Research Institute, which spent $2 million on the SRI cold fusion research, suspended support for the work pending the outcome of an investigation.

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