The Associated Press March 17, 2011, 8:05AM ET

A look at Japan's history of nuclear power trouble

Japan's nuclear industry has suffered a litany of scandals and accidents.

-- 1995: Sodium leaked in a cooling system at the Monju prototype fast-breeder reactor in western Japan. No one was injured and no radioactivity escaped. But state-run operator Donen was found to have concealed videotape footage that showed extensive damage to the reactor.

-- 1997: At least 37 workers were exposed to low doses of radiation in a fire and explosion at the Tokaimura nuclear reprocessing plant, northeast of Tokyo. Donen later acknowledged it had initially suppressed information about the fire.

-- 1999: Fuel-reprocessing workers were reported to be using stainless steel buckets to hand-mix uranium in flagrant violation of safety standards at the Tokaimura plant. Hundreds of people were exposed to radiation. Two workers later died in what was the deadliest accident in the Japanese industry's history.

-- 2000: Three Tokyo Electric Power Co. executives forced to quit after revelations the company in 1989 ordered an employee to edit out footage showing cracks in nuclear plant steam pipes in video being submitted to regulators.

-- 2002: Two workers were exposed to a small amount of radiation and suffered minor burns when they accidentally punctured a spray can, igniting a plastic sheet during an inspection at Onagawa Nuclear Power Station in northern Japan.

-- 2004: Eight workers were exposed to low-level radiation at another power plant in Tsuruga, western Japan, when they were accidentally sprayed with contaminated water. The doses were not considered dangerous.

-- 2004: A cooling pipe at a power plant in Mihama burst, killing four workers and injuring seven with a scorching explosion of steam. No radiation was released.

-- 2006: Tokyo Electric Power Co. reported a small amount of radioactive steam was released at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant that's currently in crisis -- and it escaped the compound. The amount was deemed negligible to public safety.

-- 2007: A powerful earthquake ripped into Japan's northwestern coast, killing at least eight people and causing malfunctions at the Kashiwazaki Kariwa nuclear power plant, including radioactive water spills, burst pipes and fires. Radiation did not leak from the facility.

-- March 2011: The Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant in Japan's northeast coast is crippled after a 9.0-magnitude quake that spawned a devastating tsunami. Authorities are racing to cool overheating reactors to prevent a full meltdown.


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