5Windscale Fire - Level 5


The Windscale Fire was considered to be one of the worst nuclear accidents in the history of Great Britain. The accident took place at the Windscale nuclear reactor factory and plutonium-production plant located in Cumberland county on October 8th, 1957 and hit Level 5 on the INES scale. It involved

two of the plant's nuclear reactors that were gas-cooled when a routine heating of reactor number one's graphite control blocks caused the adjacent uranium cartridges to explode when things got out of control.

The uranium was released into the air and began to oxidize, which then caused a fire to burn for 16 hours due to the release of radioactivity. About ten tons of radioactive fuel melted into the reactor core and caused an unspeakable amount of radioactive iodine to be released into the air. Milk sales from farms around the reactor site were stalled, and the reactor was sealed until the 1980s when cleanup commenced. The cleanup is expected to finally wrap up next year. The poison was absorbed by several people since there was no evacuation, which led to doctors and researchers monitoring cases of thyroid cancer in the area.

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