Laka releases IAEA-list with (near) accidents in nuclear power stations

Today, the Laka-foundation released a list with reports from almost 1,000 incidents and (near) accidents with nuclear power plants and other nuclear facilities. Since 1990 the International Atomic Energy Agency IAEA has gathered these reports. The full list of reports gives neighbors, NGO’s and journalists a better insight into how often and how grave there have been serious mishaps at nuclear facilities around the world.

Accidents and technical and human errors are reported by national nuclear regulatory agencies to the International Atomic Energy Agency IAEA. The IAEA collects the incident reports in order to warn other nuclear operators for possible routes of failure. The IAEA’s aim is that by doing so, similar accidents at nuclear power plants, reprocessing plants, fuel enrichment plants, nuclear laboratories, irradiation facilities and with radioactive transports, can be prevented.

National regulators report incidents using the INES-scale. INES-0 is the lowest level and INES-7 the most severe, similar to the Richter scale for earthquakes. The Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters were rated INES-7. A fire in 1993 in a controlled area, part of the Belgium Tihange-1 nuclear power plant was rated INES-0 by the then Belgium regulator AIB–Vinçotte.
Not every nuclear incident is reported to the IAEA, and between national regulators there seem to be differences from in which level of incidents are reported. For example, only a few incidents which have been registered by the Dutch national regulator ANVS are found in the IAEA-list which Laka released. Laka assumes that national regulators report the more grave incidents to the IAEA.
The INES-scale, other than the Richter scale for earthquakes, is prone to interpretation. This results in seemingly serious incidents being rated low and small disruptions being rated high. For example, in 2013, the Slovenian regulator URSJV rated the discovery of damaged reactor fuel in the Krško nuclear power plant INES-0. The integrity of the fuel in a nuclear reactor being of high safety relevance, one would expect any fuel damage incident to be rated higher.

The Vienna-based IAEA only releases reports from the previous twelve months to the public. After twelve months, accident reports are hidden from the IAEA-website. This makes it impossible for neighbors, non-governmental organizations and journalists to monitor the occurrence of nuclear incidents throughout the years. The risks of a certain nuclear power station can only be assessed by the frequency and the gravity of incidents occurring throughout the years. By releasing the full IAEA-list with all reported incidents and accidents since 1990, Laka, an Amsterdam based research group on nuclear energy, makes this safety-relevant accessible. To provide better access to the overview of incidents and accidents, Laka put all reported incidents also in an on-line map.

Laka follows the IAEA-report listing and will not add incidents or accident reports on its own. A complete overview of all registered incidents in nuclear and radiological installation in the Netherlands is available in the annual incident reports from the Dutch regulator ANVS

The Laka Foundation is an Amsterdam-based documentation and research center on nuclear energy. Laka documents, analyses and comments for over thirty years (the development of) nuclear energy and is a member of Nuclear Transparency Watch (NWT), a European network that promotes a citizen watch on nuclear safety and transparency.