3 bodies were removed from the scene after the accident. Two operators died instantly, and the third died from wounds received during the accident. Volunteers who responded to retrieve bodies were exposed to 500 Roentgens per hour radiation while removing two of the bodies.
The third body was right above the reactor, and special equipment had to be used, plus a large team of volunteers, due to the HIGH radiation levels involved.
22 volunteers worked in relays to remove the third body.. It was removed to a shielded facility for decontamination, where efforts were complicated by gamma radiating particles embedded in the body. After decontamination, the body was placed in a lead lined casket. The Geiger Counter readings were reduced to 300 mR per hour, which allowed it to be transported for final burial.
First responders were notified of a problem by an automatic heat detector calling the fire department. They were not told there was radiation involved or where the fire was. They came out once, and reset a detector, then they left.
The detector went off again, and the fire department came out again. They reset the alarm again, and left. An alarm went off a third time, and the fire department went out again, and no guard is on duty at this time.
They looked around for a fire and could not find one, and no one answered from the control room. No one knew there was a radiation problem. They went into the control room, where a big red light was flashing, indicating high radiation, but they were not trained in how to interpret this. The assistant fire chief said they should leave and get a Geiger Counter. They went out and got a radiation detector. They did not have any masks or breathing equipment on.
The security team on site then alerted the nuclear regulatory body (Atomic Energy Commission), and started a disaster response. The fire team entered the reactor building where the radiation meter pegged out at the maximum, which was 200 Roetgen per hour. They found the dead bodies inside and then exited the building.
In this section, he talks about how the third body was in an area with radiation levels of 6,000 Roentgens per hour. In this environment, a human being can only work about 15 seconds. This is similar to Fukushima reactor buildings, which are too ‘hot’ for humans to work in. Even robots are fried that try to enter these areas.
The firemen were all contaminated with radiation after this event. They pulled up in a parking lot, stopped the fire engine and in 17 degrees below 0 weather, they shed all of their clothes, down to nothing. Then they were decontaminated, which consists of scrubbing to the point of bleeding, in order to get radiation levels down to safe levels.
The fire engine was contaminated as well. The hoses were cleaned with a standard shop vac inside the fire station, which then contaminated the whole fire station and everyone inside of it. Japan is doing the same thing by burning Fukushima related radioactive waste products, which then recontaminates the whole country.
Why did this accident happen? One of the stories told is that the operator had just been told by his wife that she was leaving him, and he knew that he was getting a divorce. There was also a potential political dispute between this operator and someone else in the room, who was being promoted, possibly in front of the operator, who maybe thought that he should be getting the promotion, not the other guy. There is a chance that this operator committed suicide/murder by nuclear criticality. This is another reason why small plants should not be allowed.. There is not enough safety margin and too much risk from personality conflicts, or other human weaknesses in the small crew assigned to these reactors.
It is interesting that the radiation exposure records of all those participating in this nuclear accident ‘disappeared’. The only proof that is present now is in the memory of those who were there and did their best. If any of them developed cancer, they had no proof that they were ever exposed to ANY radiation.
This means that they cannot be compensated for any negative health effects. This kind of thing is more common than one thinks nowadays.
More than likely, no one was warned that there was a radiation leak, and no measures were taken to protect public health. The military, government and regulator just issued statements saying ‘no immediate harm’ and everything just went on as before, just like TMI, Fukushima, Chernobyl and many other nuclear accidents that contaminated many thousands of square miles of land and water each.
What follows is a 40 minute video put out by the authorities, explaining this accident.
The following information courtesy Wikipedia:
“The SL-1, or Stationary Low-Power Reactor Number One, was a United States Army experimental nuclear power reactor which underwent a steam explosion and meltdown on January 3, 1961, killing its three operators.
The direct cause was the improper withdrawal of the central control rod, responsible for absorbing neutrons in the reactor core. The accident released about 80 curies (3.0 TBq) of Iodine-131. About 1,100 curies (41 TBq) of fission products were released into the atmosphere.
The facility, located at the National Reactor Testing Station approximately 40 miles (64 km) west of Idaho Falls, Idaho, was part of the Army Nuclear Power Program and was known as the Argonne Low Power Reactor (ALPR) during its design and build phase.
It was intended to provide electrical power and heat for small, remote military facilities, such as radar sites near the Arctic Circle, and those in the DEW Line. The design power was 3 MW (thermal). Operating power was 200 kW electrical and 400 kW thermal for space heating.
In the accident, the core power level reached nearly 20 GW in just four milliseconds, precipitating the reactor accident and steam explosion.”
Further information about the SL-1 reactor accident can be found at
Some people are claiming that a ‘new generation’ of small nuclear plants built by the thousands all across the globe will be the answer for energy needs of the future of small remote towns far away from any energy sources. This is an example of what can happen even with ‘small’ modular next generation reactors. Even small reactors can kill people and contaminate large geographical areas with deadly radiation.
1961 Nuclear Reactor Meltdown : The SL-1 Accident – United States via @AGreenRoad
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