Ontario Nuclear Site: "Chalk River's Toxic Legacy"

"CHALK RIVER, Ontario — 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 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.

Refuse from that day remains, 59 years later, part of an immense toxic legacy handed down from decades of pioneering research and technological achievement in atomic science and nuclear medicine at Chalk River Laboratories (CRL)."

Ian MacLeod reports for the Ottawa Citizen December 17, 2011.

Source: Ottawa Citizen, 12/19/2011