Three Mile Island Accident Deaths, Location: Facts on Nuclear Meltdown’s Anniversary
28 Mar 2018 – It has been 39 years since a meltdown at Three Mile Island became the most significant nuclear accident in U.S. history. On March 28, 1979, one of the reactors at that power plant partially melted down, releasing radiation and revealing flaws within both the system and in how authorities respond to emergencies.
Where is Three Mile Island?
Although it is indeed an island, it is not off one of the U.S. coasts. Three Mile Island is a strip of land in Susquehanna River, a little south of Pennsylvania’s capital Harrisburg. It’s not the only landmass in the river—which is massively long and winds from a lake in New York’s Mohawk Valley down to Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, connecting it to the Atlantic Ocean—not even in its particular location. Its name does not come from its length but rather from its location; it is a little more than 2 miles long and is 3 miles downstream from Harrisburg International Airport.
What happened in 1979?
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission says that a mechanical or electrical failure caused an issue with a reactor core’s cooling system, leading to an automatic shutdown. A relief valve then opened to relieve the rising pressure in the nuclear area of the plant but got stuck in the open position, despite a readout indicating to plant workers that it had closed once the pressure was stabilized.
“As a result, the plant staff was unaware that cooling water was pouring out of the stuck-open valve,” the commission said.
Without proper cooling, the nuclear fuel got too hot and a significant portion of the core melted. According to the commission, the building contained much of the radioactive material, preventing a larger disaster. Remediation efforts, however, lasted for more than a decade after the incident.
Did anyone die in the accident?
Nobody died or was injured in the initial incident at Three Mile Island, the partial meltdown of the nuclear reactor. However, the meltdown released radiation, which scientific studies have linked to cancer cases that cropped up in the years following the accident. For example, a study last year into thyroid cancer cases among people who lived near Three Mile Island found genetic signatures indicating they may have been connected to low levels of radiation, according to the researchers.
Is Three Mile Island Closing?
Anything can happen between now and September 2019, but the Exelon Corporation announced last year that Three Mile Island will close then for economic reasons. Exelon was not running the nuclear plant at the time of the meltdown, but now operates the generating station.
DISCLAIMER: The statements, views and opinions expressed in pieces republished here are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of TMS. In accordance with title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. TMS has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is TMS endorsed or sponsored by the originator. “GO TO ORIGINAL” links are provided as a convenience to our readers and allow for verification of authenticity. However, as originating pages are often updated by their originating host sites, the versions posted may not match the versions our readers view when clicking the “GO TO ORIGINAL” links. This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
One Response to “Three Mile Island Accident Deaths, Location: Facts on Nuclear Meltdown’s Anniversary”
Click here to go to the current weekly digest or pick another article:
- Australia World's Leading Polluter of Greenhouse Gas Per Capita
- Save the Insects, Save Ourselves: Researchers Sound Alarm on Bugpocalypse
- Is Climate Change an Apocalypse in the Making?
- Japan Races to Build New Coal-Burning Power Plants, Despite the Climate Risks
- How a Rising Anti-Mining Movement Is Challenging Portugal’s ‘White Gold’ Rush
- Oil Spill Hits 643 Areas in 116 Cities in Northeast and Southeast Brazil