U.S. worth fear themselves

July 10, 2012 18:29

NPP "Fermi-1" - the place of the nuclear incident, entitled "The China Syndrome."  Photo: playgrounddetroit.com

NPP "Fermi-1" — the place of the nuclear incident, entitled "China Syndrome." Photo: playgrounddetroit.com

During the Cold War, they were all afraid that the United States and the Soviet Union will begin a nuclear war. But are much more likely to be killed by the U.S. own nuclear explosion. Here are a couple of serious accidents that occurred in the United States.
Broken Arrow (Travis AFB, 1950)

During the Korean War, the U.S. military and politicians are seriously considering the use of nuclear weapons. In August 1950, 10 B-29 bombers took off from an airbase Fairfield-Suisun, California and went to Guam. Each of the bomber was carrying the bomb Mark IV, which was twice as powerful dropped on Japan at the end of the Second World War.
Shortly after takeoff, one of the pilots reported engine trouble. On board was General Robert Travis, who had ordered to return to base, but before boarding the plane was refused landing gear. Realizing that the plane crashes, pilot tried to avoid hitting the populated areas around the base, and the plane crashed in the north-west corner of the base. In the fall killed 12 of the 20 former military on board, including General Travis. The fire detonated 5,000 pounds of explosives, which are components of a nuclear bomb Mark IV. This explosion killed another seven people on the ground. If the bomb was equipped with a split capsule, the number of victims may be counted in six figures.
U.S. Air Force hid the incident, saying that for a training flight were loaded conventional bombs. A few months later, the base was renamed in honor of General Travis. The term "Broken Arrow" since used to refer to various emergency with nuclear weapons, non-nuclear war.

The China Syndrome (DRESSING reactor Fermi 1, 1966)

The incident was immortalized titled "When we almost lost Detroit" in the eponymous book by John Fuller.
What happened to the Fermi-1 is the result of engineering errors, non-compliance with safety regulations, and just a lack of experience. Engineers made changes to the cooling system, but did not enter it in the documentation, so their colleagues who worked on the reactor, did not know that in a tank of liquid sodium were extra dispersion plate. When one of the tanks blocked the cooling pipes, the core of the reactor was heated to 700 degrees Fahrenheit and partly melted. As a result, the protective cover was damaged, out of order the cooling system and threatening the melting unit base. When completely melted fuel ignites and keeps the temperature in the range of 1000 ° C, and therefore the plant specialists working at the site of the accident, whether in jest or seriously considered the fact that the molten reactor will burn through the ground and get to China . Since then, a definition of the "China Syndrome", which became an ironic expression denoting a hypothetical severe accident at the nuclear power plant with nuclear fuel melting and penetration into the soil with a penetration power structures, Fermi-1 1 is generally between Detroit and Toledo, but I suppose "When we almost lost Toledo" does not sound so exciting.

Broken Arrow (Tybee Island, 1658)

Near the Tybee Island, Dzhorzhdiya, on the border of Georgia and South Carolina, at a depth of about 3 meters rests hydrogen bomb. It is there for almost 50 years.
In 1958, the B-47 bomber «Stratojet» during exercises crashed. On board he was carrying a hydrogen bomb Mark 15 — light the bomb 12 feet long, armed with 400 pounds of explosives and highly enriched uranium. The crew of a plane crash intolerant decided at an emergency landing they did not want to carry on board such a dangerous cargo, requested permission to drop a bomb into the ocean. When she hit the water miraculously did not explode, and no one since it is no longer seen.
There is some disagreement as to whether the bomb was fully armed. Some reports claim that was, but the Air Force officially announced that the inside is a training capsule. Attempts were made to find the bomb, but the natural radiation of land is extremely difficult search activities. If the bomb was armed, and if detonated, then the nearby Savannah would have virtually disappeared from the face of the earth.

Faded Giant (Idaho Falls, 1961)

It was a potentially serious accident, and populated areas exposed to radiation. But the incident in Idaho Falls stands out in a number of nuclear accidents, as the most terrible calamity.
SL-1 reactor was experimental and was administered by the army near Idaho Falls. January 3, 1961 there was an alarm. Arrived on the scene staff because of high radiation could not get through to the cockpit controls. Half an hour later he is
succeeded. In the control room monitoring, they found two victims, one of which is showing signs of life (he died soon after.) Even after the victim was carried out of the building where the reactor, human bodies were so radioactive that they had to be buried in the cemeteries of the lead.
The worst was yet to come. A few days later the emergency services found the third operator. When the incident occurred, he was standing at the top of the reactor. Force of the explosion tore the control rods, which passed through the chest of the operator and the body nailed to the ceiling.
SL-1 for servicing in which control rods needed to pull a few inches. Since the design of the reactor scheduled use one large control rod, the only issue where the rod came out almost entirely, led to instant supercritical reaction.
Massive leap output energy vaporized cooling water and part of the reactor, resulting in causing a massive explosion.


Here is how this incident has taught that we should not work with a computer simulation of a nuclear attack the Soviet Union, using systems that are responsive to the real nuclear attack. Missile Defense Agency has received disturbing information that the whole armada of Soviet nuclear warheads sent to the United States. In the air rose combat aircraft, filled with nuclear weapons. Protected the president's plane was also raised in the air.
Finger paused over the button. Commanders aircrew waiting orders to attack. For six tense minutes, no one was sure that this is not the third world war … and oddly enough, no one used the "red telephone" hot line with the Soviets. Finally, the satellite and radar early warning signal came that no nuclear attack is not fixed. The culprit turned out to be a training record commotion generating false positive signals that accidentally included. In the jargon of the military YADVSPYSHKA means a real nuclear explosion that could lead to nuclear war.
If all the above does not look intimidating enough, then there are several dozens of such incidents. We can recall the famous Caribbean crisis.
The moral is: reasonable fear of his own incompetence and poor technique rather than overt aggression from outside.

Source: "Interesting newspaper. World of the unknown »№ December 2012

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