Significant Radiation Events

By CCG123
  • X-Rays Discovered

    X-Rays Discovered
    Wilhelm Röntgen performs the first non-accidental experiment with a Crooke's tube to demonstrate x-rays. He immediately realized the significance of the discovery and performed many more tests.
  • Radiation Therapy

    Radiation Therapy
    Victor Despeignes is the first to use Crooke's Tube generated x-rays to treat an epigastric tumor the size of "an 8 month old fetus' head" in Lyon France. Under the impression the tumor was parasitic in nature and knowing x-rays killed bacteria he applied two 30 minute doses per day until the patients death. The tumor was shrunken by 50% and the patient had less pain, but was also taking opiates.
  • Fluoroscopy

    Fluoroscopy
    Thomas Edison tests many scintillators eventually finding calcium tungstate to be the most effective at emitting light. He uses these findings to create the first medical fluoroscope. He later makes the first note of x-rays poisoning his assistant Charles Dally.
  • Death of Clarence Madison Dally

    Death of Clarence Madison Dally
    Edison's assistant since 1890. Developed progressively worse radiation induced ailments eventually resulting in amputations to his left hand and fingers to treat cancerous lesions which would kill him. He was the first casualty of radiation experimentation. His experience made Thomas Edison abandon his work on x-rays.
  • Radium Girls

    Radium Girls
    A period from 1917-1926 where women were duplicitously exposed to radium via paint brush cleaning instruction. The self illuminated paint was used in civilian and military applications and was a particle emitter. The danger was known to management who took appropriate precautions. The exact number of casualties is unknown but spans 3 separate factories and thousands of workers. There was eventually successful litigation but the damages were sadly weighted towards annuities.
  • Death of Marie Curie

    Death of Marie Curie
    Marie Curie dies of aplastic anemia at 66 due to her career spanning work with radiation. The advances she made with her husband and Becquerel would take ionizing radiation from essentially a dangerous novelty to a viable resource and pave the way for the nuclear age.
  • Germany

    Germany
    Nuclear fission was conceptually discovered and atomic bombs theoretically explained in Nazi Germany by Otto Hahn, Fritz Strassmann, Lise Meitner and Otto Frisch. This led to an immediate German Nuclear weapons program fueled by scientists conscripted by the Reich.
  • United States

    United States
    In direct response to Germany, the creation of The Manhattan Project would lead to viable nuclear weapons. 90% of the budget was used in creating fissile materials and it employed 130,000 people.
  • Patient CAL-1

    Patient CAL-1
    Part of the Manhattan Project involved unsolicited human experimentation, introducing plutonium into subjects to understand possible fallout effects. A painter, Albert Stevens (CAL-1), was "volunteered" because of a terminal cancer misdiagnosis. He survived the experiments and died 20 years later of heart disease. He is credited with surviving the largest accumulated dose in history. He accumulated an average dose of 3Sv a year for 20 years. Most of the other subjects were not so lucky.
  • Trinity Test

    Trinity Test
    35 miles south of Socorro NM the first atomic bomb was detonated. Named "The Gadget" it yielded 22 kilotons. Its success immediately greenlit the atomic bombing of Japan. The highest dosimeter reading (13-15R) from ground zero was from a driver who made 3 round trips into the blast area. Prevailing winds carried fallout into communities and even now the area has 10 times normal background radiation due to the formation of radioactive glass at the site.
  • Hiroshima

    Hiroshima
    The "Little Boy" nuclear bomb was detonated 1900 feet above the city of Hiroshima in the first nuclear offensive in history. It was a 16 kiloton bomb and immediately destroyed one square mile, with an additional 3 burning after. 80,000 (30%) of the population was killed immediately and 70,000 were injured. The area has returned to a normal background radiation.
  • Nagasaki

    Nagasaki
    Two days after the bombing at Hiroshima the final nuclear offensive in history was delivered via "Fat Man". It exploded at 1650 feet and yielded 22 kilotons. 35,000-45,000 people were immediately killed and 60,000 were injured. This second attack led to Japans unconditional surrender on August 12th. Background radiation has returned to normal.
  • Hibakusha

    Hibakusha
    These are a class of people recognized by the Japanese government who were exposed to radioactivity during the events in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, including both the detonations and immediate fallout. They receive a stipend and extra medical care as necessary. 650,000 people have been recognized and 136,682 are still alive. Hibakusha and their children have been highly stigmatized in their social and professional lives.
  • Harry Daghlian

    Harry Daghlian
    During an impending criticality event at the Los Alamos testing site Daghlian was irradiated with neutron and gamma radiation. Trying to prevent the event a shielding brick slipped from his hand immediately triggering it. He was, against protocol, alone in the room. He died of his wounds 25 days after the event. His estimated dose was 2Gy of neutron and 1.1Gy of gamma from the criticality. The dose was sub-fatal but he continued disassembly of the experiment receiving further unknown dose.
  • Louis Slotin

    Louis Slotin
    Also at Los Alamos, Louis Slotin accidently triggered a criticality from the same core that had killed Daghlian. During the experiment demonstrating the core's viability a screwdriver was used instead of shims to separate the halves which slipped causing the core to go critical irradiating all of the men present. Slotin was the only casualty and his estimated dose was 10Gy of neutron and 1.14Gy of gamma radiation.
  • RDS-1

    RDS-1
    The soviet union successfully detonates "First Lightning" in Soviet Kazakh. It was a 22 kiloton yield and copied the design of "Fat Man" based off plans passed along by Julius and Ethel Rosenburg.
  • Operation Hurricane

    Operation Hurricane
    Britain detonates a 25 kiloton plutonium based bomb off the coast of Australia on Hermite Island. Fallout blew out to sea but changing conditions blew it over the Australian mainland. More tests were later carried out on neighboring islands. The islands are now recovered and a nature preserve but visitation is restricted.
  • Chalk River

    Chalk River
    Partial meltdown of the NRX reactor in Ontario due to operator error and subsequent miscommunications. 10,000 Curies were released, there were no fatalities or serious injuries.
  • Hydrogen Bomb

    Hydrogen Bomb
    The first un-staged hybrid fusion bomb, the RDS-6, is tested in Russia. It was comparable in yield to the largest fission weapons, 400 kilotons, with 15-20% coming from fusion. Its fusion and fission layered design was based on a Russian pastry called a Sloika.
  • Marshall Islands

    Marshall Islands
    Castle Bravo was a newly designed staged fusion bomb tested by the US on Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands. The yield was 15,000 kilotons, double the expectations. This unintended yield led to fallout and contamination on neighboring islands and to a Japanese fishing vessel, the Lucky Dragon 5. The management of the fallout to people nearby was severely lacking and many long term consequences manifested in their populations. This event was a huge factor in restricting atmospheric testing.
  • Kyshtym

    Kyshtym
    A non-nuclear explosion and subsequent spill of waste led to contamination of a large area in Soviet Russia. A 20,000 square kilometer area was exposed to approximately 2MCi. 470,000 people were exposed, but the accident was kept secret until 1992 when it was publicly recognized by Russia. This was category 6 nuclear accident and the worst in Soviet history until Chernobyl. When records were unsealed it was shown the CIA knew of the accident in 1959 but kept it secret to avoid domestic worry.
  • Goldsboro, NC

    Goldsboro, NC
    A B-52 Stratofortress crash causing two live Mark 39 3-4 Megaton fusion bombs to be ejected. One of the bombs armed 3 of its 4 activation switches after being ejected and came very close to detonating before it was located and disarmed. The other bomb did not begin its arming sequence and was destroyed after hitting the ground at approximately 700mph. The remnants are entombed in NC.
  • The Widowmaker

    The Widowmaker
    Soviet nuclear submarine K-19 plagued with accidents after a rushed production schedule. When a coolant pump failed on its maiden voyage the engineers on board fabricated a jury-rigged system to keep the reactor from melting down. Radioactive steam was pumped through the vessel irradiating every crewmen. The engineering crew all died from direct exposures ranging from 7.5Sv up to 54Sv. 14 more sailors would die within the next 2 years.
  • The Atomic Man

    The Atomic Man
    Harold McCluskey was a chemical operation technician who survived an explosion at the Hanford Plutonium Finishing Plant in in WA. He was exposed to 37 MBq of americium-241 mixed with glass and nitric acid. He received extensive medical treatment and recovered, dying of pre-existing coronary artery disease 11 years later with no signs of cancers. He did have elevated levels of radiation in his bones and soft tissues. He continued to be a proponent of nuclear energy until his death.
  • Three Mile Island

    Three Mile Island
    Partial meltdown and radiation leak in Pennsylvania. It was a 5 point event and the worst event to date in the US. A pressure relief valve failure caused the meltdown and release of contaminated coolant. The surrounding area was spared significant contamination and officially no deaths were attributed to the disaster.
  • U-70 synchrotron

    U-70 synchrotron
    Anatoli Petrovich Bugorski is a living Russian physicist who accidently exposed his head to a 76 GeV proton beam in a malfunctioning linear accelerator while a student. He hid the fact and continued working on the machine, only saying what happened after symptoms manifested. The beam dose was 2000 Gy. He has facial paralysis, tissue damage and left ear deafness. Upon recovery he finished his PhD and continued to work in experimental physics with no diminished cognitive ability.
  • Church Rock uranium mill spill

    Church Rock uranium mill spill
    A breached damn spilled 1,100 tons of radioactive slurry containing 1.23 tons of uranium as well as heavy metals and toxic substances mixed with 94 million gallons of water into the Puerco River in NM. The contamination traveled down the river into the Navajo Nation where people used the water for drinking, ranching and agriculture. There were no warnings for days after the spill. This is the single largest US release of radioactive material, eclipsing 3-Mile Island and a class 6 event.
  • Chernobyl

    Chernobyl
    The meltdown killed 28 of the 134 people involved with combating the fire within a month. The estimated models show it being responsible for an additional 9,000 to 16,000 deaths across Europe. It is only one of two Class 7 events and is the worst nuclear event in history.
  • Goiânia

    Goiânia
    A forgotten radiation therapy source containing Cesium-137 in a Brazilian hospital was stolen and disassembled. 249 people were contaminated and four died. The owner of the scrapyard where the fatal exposures occurred received 7Gy but survived. His wife received 5.7Gy, Daughter 6Gy and employee 5.3Gy and all perished. The couple responsible for stealing and originally disassembling the device survived as well.
  • Judgement Day

    Judgement Day
    A near extinction event caused by an independent AI, Skynet, after gaining control of the worlds nuclear arsenal. Three billion people died. in 1995 a young John Connor, his mother Sarah and a reprogrammed T-800 sent back from 2029 by an adult John Connor were able to avert the crisis and rewrite history after defeating a T-1000 that had also been sent back in time to kill John.
  • Fukushima

    Fukushima
    The Tohoko earthquake and subsequent tsunami caused flooding in the lower levels of the Daiichi powerplant, triggering system failures and meltdown. It is the second Class 7 event. The exact amount of contamination is unknown but estimated to be 11% of Chernobyl. The surrounding areas were evacuated and even after the order was lifted remain uninhabited near the exclusion zone. The plant is still spilling contaminated water which is pumped out. Cleanup will take 30-40 years and has not started.
  • WIPP

    WIPP
    The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant is an underground repository of nuclear waste. designed to store material safely for 10,000 years. 21 plant workers were exposed during an internal breach, but it did not travel outside.