Reporter 442, 8 November 1999

Accident at atomic plant probed

The recent nuclear accident at the Tokai-Mura plant in Japan was caused by a variety of factors according to a University fuel and energy researcher.

Andrew Clarke reviewed the causes and effects of the accident at a seminar last month. The company’s procedure manual was illegal, said Dr Clarke, as it had been modified without regulatory consent.

"Only a small amount of radioactive material was released," said Dr Clarke. "But the incident raises very serious questions about safety arrangements in the Japanese nuclear industry."

Three workers received potentially lethal doses of radiation when they poured excessive amounts of a uranium solution into a reaction tank.

"The workers had no understanding of the issue of nuclear criticality," said Dr Clarke. "In effect, they created an unshielded nuclear reactor."

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