Wood River Junction Accident

Timeline created by melp22
  • Wood River Junction

    Wood River Junction
    -Located in Rhode Island / known for 2 historical events, both terrible accidents
    -Tragi railroad accident in 1873 - killed 15 passengers / many injured
    - Critical radiation accident in 1964 - killed one
  • Nuclear Safety Audits

    Nuclear Safety Audits
    -Nuclear Safety facility design reviewed by Louis J. Swallow, Operations Control Manager of Chemical Operations
    -Design phase, Swallow reviewed/approved equipment/locations. Construction started, Swallow visited plant ONLY twice (Jan/Feb in 64)
    -Plant opened no formal safety committee/audit team appointed. Fell upon Plant superintendent (Holthaus), shift supervisors (Smith, Chapman, Pearson), Technician (Barton) to correct issues. No written reports/observations required or recorded
  • United Nuclear Corporation

    United Nuclear Corporation
    -Designed to recover Uranium 235 from spent fuel rods/other waste products to reprocess new fuel
    -Used Criticality Safe Vessels to provide storage for Uranium 235 and racks for proper storage and safe handling
    -Safety was said to be strict, even in the 60's mainly from deaths linked to the demon core (atomic bomb). Found many issues as investigations started.
  • UNC re-processing U-235 equipment

    UNC re-processing U-235 equipment
    -Scrap recovery facility that reused equipment and agitated mixed solutions to clean and separate U-235
    - One gallon polyethylene jars had varying concentrations of U-235, Sodium Carbonate, Trichloroethane, Ok/Concentrated Liquor, and Misc. Solutions
    - 11 Liter polyethylene bottles had same types of mixture as jars
    - Stainless steel trays used to avoid spilling U-235 solutions on the floor that were placed under the jars and bottles
  • Pre-Cursor Omen

    Pre-Cursor Omen
    -Shift Supervisor casually wrote notes which turned into logged information for the relieving supervisor of any plan/problems needed addressing for the following shift
    -Shift Sup Bill Pearson wrote criticality alarm was accidentally set off by Mr. Peabody when he was washing down the first floor of the tower room
    -Recommendations were made for Emergency evacuation procedures, based on building evacuation
  • Mr. Peabody

    Mr. Peabody
    -First applied to the UNC as a mechanic and was told position was already filled. Peabody agreed to work as an operator and hoping to transition to mechanic when position opened.
    -It was noted Peabody worked auto repair as a side job to keep up with his skills
    -Little did Robert Peabody realize the night he went into work on July 24th, 1964 would be his last few days on the planet
  • The Critical Accident

    The Critical Accident
    -Production Operator Robert Peabody went into work July 24th, 1964 where a critical accident happened1806
    -Peabody poured contents of a 5" geometric safe 11-liter bottle into an 18" diameter by 24" deep tank gallon jar; half full of sodium carbonate solution. Peabody did not realize the bottle contained concentrated U-235 solution (200 gram/liter or more. U-235 concentration should not exceed 5g/L for a gallon jar).
    -Approx.10 liters of solution was poured into tank = criticality
  • Incident Statistics

    Incident Statistics
    -The concentrated U-235 container reached critical mass, knocking Peabody down to the floor and splashing him with a total dose of 15,000 Rad of Neutrons, Thermal Neutrons, and Gamma
    -The fatal dose was compared to getting more than 700,000 chest x-rays instantaneously
    -Peabody was bombarded and exposed to more radiation than anyone outside of Hiroshima or Nagasaki, Japan (2 decades earlier)
  • Biological Reactions

    Biological Reactions
    -When criticality alarms sounded, 5 people were in the building (including Peabody) and the evacuation rendezvous was held 450 ft SE of the plant where an ambulance was called/authorities notified
    -At the rendezvous, Peabody showed radiation sickness symptoms: immediate nausea / stomach cramps
    -Upon admission at a RI hospital, he was decontaminated/placed in isolation/received special med treatment
    - Approx. 49 hours after the accident, Robert Peabody passed at 1902 on July 26th, 1964
  • Post Processing

    Post Processing
    -United Nuclear Corp. were charged with 14 violations of nuclear-safety regulations
    -Peabody is remembered by his wife and nine children who received a small cash settlement
    -After 16 years of Robert Peabody's death, the facility closed in 1980
    -The company and federal government began a multimillion dollar decades long decontamination of the 1,114-acre site
  • Environmental Rebirth

    Environmental Rebirth
    -The Nuclear Regulatory Commission declared the site safe in October of 1995
    0In 2011, the state and federal officials determined no further clean up was required
    -In 2016, the Nature Conservancy removed the 3,000 feet of chained linked fence that formerly surrounded the Nuclear plant