The Crisis at Three Mile Island

In Middletown, PA, a quiet rural community, sits the nuclear power plant at Three Mile Island, better known as TMI. It was at this station that the worst commercial nuclear accident in the country’s history occurred.
Early in the morning of March 28, 1979, during routine operations a false reading on a valve caused the hot nuclear core of the reactor to be without water to cool it. The operators also wrongly thought the cooling system was full. The opposite was true. The core began to melt and build up of hydrogen took place in the building that housed it. The fear was that the nuclear core would melt through the floor and contaminate all the groundwater for miles around. Also, it was feared that the hydrogen would spark an explosion which would devastate the area. Government officials struggled all day on March 28th and 29th to size up the scope of the accident. The governor ordered all pre-school children and pregnant women to be evacuated from areas in proximity to the plant.
Through careful analysis, the operators and government experts were able to bring the reactor to a cold, stable, but unstable condition. By April 4th, the people who were evacuated began to return. However, life for the plant and the industry that spawned it was forever changed. Protests abounded as the cleanup began. Officials wanted to vent what they claimed were small amounts of radioactive gas. There was also strong opposition to the transport of nuclear waste from the site. A plant that had once hosted tours and ran an observation site was now off limits and patrolled by armed security forces. The value of land in the area plummeted as peopled feared contamination.
Today this issue still rages within the scientific community. Government scientists claim there was no significant environmental or genetic damage to the area of its residents. Conversely, groups such as the Union of Concerned Scientist point to private studies showing an increase in…

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