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Canada’s earliest nuclear projects will haunt landscape for centuries via The Gazette

CHALK RIVER, Ont. — At 3:07 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 12, 1952, the National Research Experimental nuclear reactor, then the most powerful research reactor on Earth, raced out of control, rapidly overheated and then exploded, destroying the reactor core and spewing radioactive gases and debris into the atmosphere.

No one was hurt in the world’s first major nuclear accident, but it took hundreds of military personnel months to clean up the partial meltdown.

A flatbed truck used to haul the intensely radioactive core to a nearby burial site was manned by a relay team of drivers, each spending just a few minutes behind the wheel before running away to make room for the next driver, to limit their exposure to lethal radiation.

A portion of the road was buried as radioactive waste. Thousands of litres of radiotoxic water and other contaminated reactor wreckage were put in sandy trenches.

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  1. Norma Field says

    How can it be said, with such confidence, that “no one was hurt”? The article gives no indication of long-term follow-up studies on either the workers or inhabitants of neighboring regions.

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