Database of radiological incidents and related events--Johnston's Archive

Vinca reactor accident, 1958

compiled by Wm. Robert Johnston
last modified 14 September 2005

Date: 15 October 1958

Location: Boris Kidrich Institute, Vinca, Yugoslavia

Type of event: criticality accident at research reactor


The accident involved a research reactor using 3,995 kg of aluminum-clad natural uranium fuel in a tank filled with heavy water for moderator. A subcritical foil counting experiment was being performed when an experimenter noticed the smell of ozone and realized a criticality excursion was occurring. The power buildup had gone undetected as the water level was raised due to saturation of both detecting chambers. The total energy release was about 80 million joules (about 2 kg of TNT equivalent). The six individuals in the room received doses of 433, 422, 415, 410, 320, and 205 rem. All developed severe radiation sickness and one died. The five survivors all received experimental bone marrow transplants, which were rejected in all patients, although before rejection the transplants probably contributed to survival.

Consequences: 1 fatality (433 rem?), 5 injuries (422, 415, 410, 320, 205 rem).


© 2004, 2005 by Wm. Robert Johnston.
Last modified 14 September 2005.
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