The destruction caused by radioactive materials is due to emissions of hazardous ionizing radiation (radioactive decay) such as beta or alpha particles, gamma rays or neurons in the environment in which they exist. In addition to fire and explosion damage, accidents also release radioactive materials that can cause radiation sickness. Exposure to radiation above a certain threshold, which is usually only received by workers and emergency teams in an affected plant, causes acute radiation syndrome a few hours after exposure. Depending on the radiation dose, this ranges from skin rashes, vomiting and diarrhea to coma and death.
Radioactive contamination occurs when radioactive material is deposited on or inside an object or person. Radioactive materials released into the environment can contaminate air, water, surfaces, soil, plants, buildings, people, or animals. A contaminated person has radioactive materials inside or inside their body. Interestingly, due to the substantial amounts of granite in their construction, many public buildings, including the Australian Parliament House and the Great Central Station in New York, would have some difficulty obtaining a license to operate if they were nuclear power plants.
The crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in Ukraine in 1986.The failure of the cooling system of a tank that stored many tons of dissolved nuclear waste caused an ammonium nitrate explosion with an estimated force of 75 tons of TNT (310 KG). Above this, workers should be considered to be occupationally exposed and subject to the same supervision as workers in the nuclear industry. Neutrons are uncharged particles released mostly by nuclear fission (the splitting of atoms in a nuclear reactor) and, therefore, are rarely found outside the core of a nuclear reactor. The reasons for these increases, or groups, are unclear, but a major study of those close to Sellafield has ruled out any contribution from nuclear sources.
Less than 1% of the exposure is due to the consequences of past testing of nuclear weapons or the generation of electricity in nuclear power plants, as well as from coal-fired and geothermal power plants. X-rays are also electromagnetic and ionizing waves, practically identical to gamma rays, but not of nuclear origin. Radiation protection in uranium mining operations and the rest of the nuclear fuel cycle is tightly regulated and exposure levels are controlled. Cancer patients receiving treatment with systemic chemotherapy or radiation therapy should be evacuated from the area where an accident occurred at a nuclear power plant so that their medical treatment can continue without interruption.
Immediately after the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster in 1986, many people received large doses. These records can be important after not only an accident at a nuclear power plant, but also after other large-scale events that can interrupt medical services, when medical records may be lost. External exposure comes from walking on contaminated soil or coming into contact with contaminated materials at nuclear accident sites. The accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in March 1979 caused some people near the plant to receive very low doses of radiation, well below regulatory thresholds.