On the morning of Sept. 30, 1999, at anuclear fuel-processingplant in Tokaimura, Japan, 35-year-old Hisashi Ouchi and two other workers were purifying uranium oxide to make fuel rods for a research reactor.
As thisaccountpublished a few months later in The Washington Post details, Ouchi was standing at a tank, holding a funnel, while a co-worker named Masato Shinohara poured a mixture of intermediate-enriched uranium oxide into it from a bucket.
Suddenly, they were startled by a flash of blue light, the first sign that something terrible was about to happen.
The workers, who had no previous experience in handling uranium with that level of enrichment, inadvertently had put too much of it in the tank, as this 2000articlein Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists details. As a result, they inadvertently triggered what’s known in the nuclear industry…
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