Nuclear disasters

Where can I find information about nuclear disasters?

Junior Secondary

(Years 7-10)

Colour photo of 2 radiation warning signs on a padlocked fence. One sign has the words 'Caution — controlled area' and a radiation warning symbol.

Image: Free Symbol Image by Dan Meyers on Unsplash.

Entry last updated: 15/07/22


Nuclear power is another source of power like wind, water or solar power. It is a cheap, reliable and clean source of energy, however the biggest disadvantage is that it can be very dangerous when accidents (natural or man-made) occur. This can result in a huge cost to human life and the destruction of the environment. The Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine is one such disaster that occurred on 26 April 1986.

Nuclear disasters

Here is a list of famous nuclear disasters:

Chernobyl disaster: a reactor explosion at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine, 1986.

Fukushima Daiichi disaster: an earthquake and tsunami triggered meltdowns and explosions at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan, 2011.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings: two nuclear bombs were dropped by the United States of America on the cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, 1945.

Kyshtym disaster: a liquid radioactive waste tank exploded at Mayak plutonium production plant in Russia, 1957.

Three Mile Island disaster: a radiation leak and near-meltdown at Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in the USA, 1979.

Windscale disaster: a fire resulted in radioactive contamination being released at Windscale nuclear reactor facility and plutonium-production plant in England, 1957.

General websites

Here is a list of websites that will help you find information about nuclear disasters, how they happen, and the impact they can have on life and the environment.


This is another great website to search for articles on science and technology. Each article has the name of the author and the date when it was last updated. There are several ways to search the website.

  • You can use the A-Z index at the top of the page to look for nuclear power.

  • Or, use the search bar to type in 'nuclear power'.

  • You will find an article called nuclear power plants which explains atomic energy and how a nuclear power plant can explode.

  • Scroll down to the end of the page to find related topics, websites, articles and a list of recommended book titles.

Tips: Websites that have .com or .co in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About us link on the website, if you can find one. That can tell you what the company’s mission and values are.

World Nuclear Association

The aim of this association is to provide a reliable understanding of nuclear energy and its use.

Tips: Websites that have .org or .net in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About us or Who we are link on the website, if you can find one. That can tell you what the organisation’s mission and values are.

EPIC resources

EPIC is a collection of reliable databases covering lots of different topics. It’s put together especially for New Zealand school students and helps to answer questions like this.

Tips: To get to the EPIC resources you will need a password from your school librarian first. Or you can chat with one of our AnyQuestions librarians between 1 and 6pm Monday to Friday and they will help you online. Some EPIC databases may also be available through your public library.

Britannica School

This online version of Encyclopaedia Britannica covers history, geography, social sciences, technology and science topics.

  • Select the Middle level to begin and type in 'nuclear disasters'.

  • The results deal with the dangers of nuclear power such as Radioactive Pollutants, Nuclear weapons and Fallout (nuclear physics).

  • At any time you can move up or down a reading level by selecting from Article Reading Level at the top of each page.

Tips: Search words, or keywords, are the most important words in our question. Usually, it’s better to leave out small words like ‘the’, ‘a’ and ‘of’ and just choose the main ones, eg 'nuclear disaster'. We can always change our keywords or add more if we need to.

Environmental Studies (Gale in context)

This website is helpful for looking at the effects of nuclear disasters on health and the environment.

Science (Gale in context)

Science in Context covers a range of topics on biology, chemistry and physics including biographies, general science, health and medicine, astronomy, engineering, mathematics and technology. It will help you understand the science of how nuclear power works, how nuclear disasters can happen and how it impacts us.

Tips: Remember you can use your public library card to access EPIC through your public library website. Contact your local library and ask for guidance on how this can be done.


Below are some books that may have the information you need. You can find some of these at your own school or public library.

SCIS no: 1984751

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