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Significant Nuclear Accident at MOX Plant In Japan

September 30, 1999

Residents were evacuated for 6 miles (10 km) around a MOX plant that makes fuel for atomic reactors on Sept. 30th in Tokaimura, central Japan. Japan relies on nuclear power for about one-third of its electricity. The JCO Inc. facility leaked radiation into the atmosphere at 3,000 to 10,000 times usual background levels. Many were hospitalized from radiation exposure and several workers are in critical condition from this significant nuclear accident. A worker put 35 pounds instead of 5 pounds of uranium nitrate solution into a tank, ignoring control limits. The uranium, which went critical, was imported from France in the form of UF6 fluoride gas.

Workers say they saw a blue light and then became ill. The surrounding township was notified 58 minutes after the accident. According to continuing reports, many residents are at risk of contamination and have been instructed to close their windows and remain inside. (Associated Press, CNN and www.sfgate.com, Sept. 30, 1999. For further information go to the Nuclear Information and Resource Service site at http://www.nirs.org )


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