This day in US nuclear accidents

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

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    Unknown date September

    1959 – NIKE HERCULES / Overseas Base

    Due to high winds, a NIKE HERCULES missile was damaged while on its launch rail. The launch rail tore loose from the missile while the missile was being elevated for testing during a windstorm. The launch umbilical plug was sheared and the aft portion of the missile skin suffered moderate damage. The NIKE was taken off from the launcher, its JATO boosters removed, and then examined for further damage.

    Chuck Hansen, “The Swords of Armageddon,” Vol. VII, p.256
     
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    2 September

    1944 - Peter Bragg and Douglas Paul Meigs, two Manhattan Project chemists, were killed when their attempt to unclog a tube in a uranium enrichment device led to an explosion of radioactive uranium hexafluoride gas exploded at the Naval Research Laboratory in Philadelphia, PA. The explosion ruptured nearby steam pipes, leading to a gas and steam combination that bathed the men in a scalding, radioactive, acidic cloud of gas which killed them a short while later.

    U.S. Nuclear Accidents
     
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    3 - 14 September

    No reported incidents.
     
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    15 September

    1980 - B-52H / Grand Forks AFB, North Dakota

    A B-52H carrying both MK 28 bombs and nuclear-armed AGM-69 SRAM missiles caught fire at about 8:45 PM local time due to a fuel leak during an alert force engine start exercise. The crew escaped without injury. The fire burned intensely, fed by fuel gravity-feeding from the No. 3 main wing tank and was intensified by strong tailwinds that gusted to 30 miles per hour. However, the wind and base firefighters kept the flames away from the rest of the aircraft, in particular, away from wing hardpoints carrying the SRAMs.

    The fire burned for more than three hours and was extinguished only after the fuel flow had ceased. LLNL director Roger Batzel later testified that "the wind was blowing down the axis of the airplane (fuselage); had the wind been blowing across, rather than parallel to, the fuselage, the whole aircraft (including its load of SRAMs) would have been engulfed in flames." (Not a "Broken Arrow" incident.)

    Chuck Hansen, “The Swords of Armageddon,” Vol. VII, pp.290-291.
     
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    16 - 17 September

    No reported incidents.
     
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    18 September

    1959 – / FJ-4B / Hawaii

    At 12:15 PM, an Operational Suitability Test weapon was inadvertently released from a U.S. Navy FJ-4B fighter-bomber off Kanuma Point lighthouse on the island of Hawaii. The weapon was lost in 3,600 feet of water.

    Chuck Hansen, “The Swords of Armageddon,” Vol. VII, p.256.
     
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    19 September

    1980 - TITAN II ICBM / Damascus, Arkansas

    During routine maintenance in a TITAN missile silo, an Air Force technician dropped a heavy wrench socket, which rolled off a work platform and fell approximately 66 feet to the bottom of the silo. The socket bounced off the thrust mount and struck the missile, penetrating its skin, and causing a leak of liquid propellant and fumes from the pressurized fuel tank. The missile complex and surrounding area were evacuated and a team of specialists was called in from Little Rock AFB, the missile's main support base.

    About 8 1/2 hours after the initial puncture, fuel vapors within the silo ignited and exploded, demolishing the 740 ton silo cover and hurling the missile warhead and encasing RV 600 feet. The explosion fatally injured one member of the team called in earlier and injured six other team members. Twenty-one other USAF personnel were injured. The missile's re-entry vehicle, containing a W-53 nuclear warhead, was blown out of the silo and recovered damaged but intact. There was no nuclear contamination.

    Chuck Hansen, “The Swords of Armageddon,” Vol. VII, p.291.

    Titan II Missile Explosion (1980) - Encyclopedia of Arkansas

    Titan II 374-7 Missile Silo Little Rock AFB Arkansas
     
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    20 - 24 September

    No reported incidents.
     
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    25 September

    1959 – P5M / Off Washington coast

    A U.S. Navy P5M based at NAS Whidbey Island in Puget Sound, Washington, ditched at about 8:00 PM PDT in the Pacific Ocean about 100 miles west of the Washington-Oregon border and 80 miles from Astoria, Oregon after suffering an engine failure and fire. The aircraft was carrying an unarmed war reserve nuclear antisubmarine weapon containing no nuclear material; the weapon was jettisoned into water 8,600 feet deep. The weapon was not recovered, but all ten crewmen were rescued by the Coast Guard after drifting in a raft for 10 hours. This accident was not announced to the press at the time.

    Chuck Hansen, “The Swords of Armageddon,” Vol. VII, p.256.
     
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    26 - 30 September

    No reported incidents.
     

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