Oct. 7, 1957 - A fire in the Windscale plutonium production reactor N of Liverpool, England, spread radioactive material throughout the countryside. In 1983, the British government said that 39 people probably died of cancer as a result.1957 - A chemical explosion in Kasli, USSR (now in Russia), in tanks containing nuclear waste, spread radioactive material and forced a major evacuation.
Jan. 3, 1961 - An experimental reactor at a federal installation near Idaho Falls, ID, killed three workers-the only deaths in U.S. reactor operations. The plant had high radiation levels, but damage was contained.
Oct. 5, 1966 - A sodium cooling system malfunction caused a partial core meltdown at the Enrico Fermi demonstration breeder reactor near Detroit, MI. Radiation was contained.
Mar. 22, 1975 - A technician checking for air leaks with a lighted candle caused a $100 million fire at the Brown's Ferry reactor in Decatur, AL. The fire burned out electrical controls, lowering the cooling water to dangerous levels.Mar. 28, 1979 - The worst commercial nuclear accident in the U.S. occurred as equipment failures and human mistakes led to a loss of coolant and partial core meltdown at the Three Mile Island reactor in Middletown, PA.Feb. 11, 1981 - Eight workers were contaminated when more than 100,000 gallons of radioactive coolant leaked into the containment building of the TVA's Sequoyah 1 plant in Tennessee.Apr. 25, 1981 - Some 100 workers were exposed to radioactive material during repairs of a nuclear plant at Tsuruga, Japan.Jan. 6, 1986 - A cylinder of nuclear material burst after being improperly heated at a Kerr-McGee plant at Gore, OK. One worker died, and 100 were hospitalized.Apr. 26, 1986 - In the worst accident in the history of the nuclear power industry, fires and explosions resulting from an unauthorized experiment at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant near Kiev, USSR (now in Ukraine), left at least 31 people dead in the immediate aftermath of the disaster and spread significant quantities of radioactive material over much of Europe. An estimated 135,000 people were evacuated from areas around Chernobyl, some of which were rendered uninhabitable for years. As a result of the radiation released into the atmosphere, tens of thousands of excess cancer deaths (as well as increased rates of birth defects) were expected in succeeding decades.