This day in US nuclear accidents

Discussion in 'Military' started by mhansen2, Dec 12, 2017.

  1. mhansen2
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    5 August

    1950 – / B-29 / Fairfield-Suisun AFB, near Fairfield, California

    A B-29, one of a flight of 10 bound for Hawaii and Guam, and carrying an unarmed MK 4 nuclear weapon and no nuclear capsule, experienced two runaway propellers and landing gear retraction problems on takeoff from Fairfield-Suisun AFB at about 10:00 PM PST. Immediately after takeoff, the nose of the aircraft swerved to the left and rolled sharply. The aircraft crashed, burned, and exploded about five minutes after takeoff while attempting an emergency landing. Upon impact, the nose section broke off between the forward and aft bomb bays; when the wreckage came to a stop, an intense fire broke out.

    None of the 10 persons in the rear pressurized compartment escaped, and all were fatally injured. One passenger and the aircraft commander General Robert F. Travis were fatally injured (Fairfield-Suisun AFB was subsequently renamed Travis AFB). Eight other persons in the forward compartment escaped with only minor injuries.

    The fire was fought for 12 to 15 minutes before the weapon's 5,000 lbs. of HE detonated, creating a crater 60 feet wide and six feet deep; the blast was felt for 30 miles and the fire was visible for 65 miles. The crash initially caused fatal injuries to 12 crewmen and passengers and minor injuries to eight more crewmen and passengers (the plane carried nine passengers and eleven crewmen).

    Extensive damage to private and government property and fatal and major and minor injuries to both additional civilian and military personnel were caused by the exploding nuclear bomb: seven fire-fighting and rescue personnel were killed; 181 other military and civil service personnel and civilian dependents received major or minor injuries. One dependent was injured when a fire extinguisher from the exploding plane was thrown through the roof of her quarters; the aircraft crashed near a trailer camp occupied by 200 Air Force families.

    Although the MK 4 contained a 100 lb. uranium tamper, there was no radioactive contamination. At the time of the crash, the Air Force characterized the flight as "a long range training mission" and said that the explosion after the crash was caused by "ten to twelve 500 lb. bombs" purportedly aboard the plane.

    Chuck Hansen, “The Swords of Armageddon,” Vol. VII, p.237
     
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    6 - 7 August

    No reported incidents.
     
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    8 August

    No reported incidents.
     
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    9 August

    1965 – TITAN II missile / Searcy, Arkansas

    An EPA report dated February 1991 lists a TITAN as having been involved in a nuclear weapons accident on this date at this location. Gregory (Shaun Gregory, “THE HIDDEN COST OF DETERRENCE: NUCLEAR WEAPONS ACCIDENTS,” Brassey's UK, London, England, 1990) claims that 53 persons were killed in a silo explosion and fire and that the missile's warhead had been deactivated and removed before the fire. No further details are currently available.

    Chuck Hansen, “The Swords of Armageddon,” Vol. VII, p.277.
    Titan II 373-4 Missile Silo Little Rock AFB Arkansas
     
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    10 - 20 August

    No reported incidents.
     
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    21 August

    1945 - Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico, USA – Accidental criticality.

    Harry Daghlian dropped a tungsten carbide brick onto a plutonium core inadvertently creating a critical mass at the Los Alamos Omega site. He quickly removed the brick, but was fatally irradiated, dying 15 September.
     
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    22 - 23 August

    No reported incidents.
     
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    24 August

    1978 – TITAN II missile / Rock, Kansas

    An EPA report dated February 1991 lists a TITAN as having been involved in a nuclear weapons accident on this date at this location. Gregory claims that 13,000 gallons of liquid nitrogen tetroxide leaked from an unarmed TITAN and vaporized, resulting in the death of two persons and injuries to at least 30 others; residents in town were evacuated.

    Chuck Hansen, “The Swords of Armageddon,” Vol. VII, p.290.

    Titan II 533-7 Missile Silo McConnell AFB Kansas
     
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    25 - 30 August

    No reported incidents.
     
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    31 August

    1962 – JUPITER missile / Italy

    A JUPITER missile armed with a W-49 warhead was struck by lightning, resulting in activation of thermal batteries in the adaption kit. The missile was returned to operational status after 31 days. Between July and September 1962, the Air Force erected protective lightning strike diversion tower arrays at all of its Italian and Turkish missile launch sites.

    Chuck Hansen, “The Swords of Armageddon,” Vol. VII, p.271
     

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