Windscale Nuclear reactor (UK)
October 7, 1957: Britain’s worst nuclear accident. A fire in the graphite-core reactor burned for three days, releasing radioactive contamination that spread across the UK and Europe. Milk sales from nearby farms was banned for a month.
Three Mile Island (US)
March 28, 1979: When the core of the nuclear reactor in Pennsylvania partly melted down, it was the most significant incident in the history of the American commercial nuclear power-generating industry. There were no deaths or injuries to plant workers or neighbours.
Chernobyl power plant (USSR) April 26, 1986: The reactor explosion in Ukraine released 1000 times as much radioactivity as Windscale. It is thought to have caused 47 workers’ deaths and killed nine children with thyroid cancer. WHO also estimates there may have been up to 9000 further related cancer deaths.
Fukushima Daiichi power plant (Japan)
March 11, 2011: A 15m tsunami after a magnitude-9.0 earthquake damaged four of six reactors at the site. Fuel in three of the reactor cores melted, and radiation releases from the damaged reactors contaminated a wide area and forced the evacuation of nearly half a million residents.