Wednesday, 08 December 2021

History of nuclear disasters

AN author from Whitchurch has published a book on the history of nuclear accidents.

Before Chernobyl by Nick Brazil chronicles the disasters which have unfolded since the first documented one in 1942, when a Nazi experimental reactor in Leipzig began leaking.

The 189-page book looks at the American test explosion at Bikini Atoll in the Fifties, in which 22 Japanese fishermen were unexpectedly killed, two hydrogen bomb explosions in the former Soviet Union and the 1979 Three Mile Island incident.

It also covers more recent disasters, including a Cruise missile detonation which claimed the lives of five Russian scientists in 2019.

Mr Brazil, 75, who lives in Hardwick Road and is also a keen photographer and film-maker, says many people are unaware of these as they weren’t as well publicised as the Chernobyl disaster of 1986.

He has had a life-long interest in the subject as nuclear weapons were often in the news when he was a child and he feared the consequences of them being used in war.

He carried out initial research online before reading up in greater depth in history books.

Mr Brazil said: “I’ve always had a fascination with nuclear disasters and originally planned to give an illustrated talk about them but it wasn’t really suitable for dinner events.

“I then started writing a little while before the lockdown and I’m really pleased with how the book has sold. One scientist who bought a copy said they couldn’t put it down.

“I’ll never forget seeing a nuclear explosion on the front of the Daily Express when I was eight, which had the headline ‘this is it’. That was the Castle Bravo hydrogen bomb, the biggest ever to that point, and we all grew up living under its shadow.”

The book costs £10, plus £3 postage. To order a copy, email nicholasbrazil@

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