The most serious atomic power reactor disaster in the United States began very early on the morning of March 28th, 1979, when the main feed-water pumps malfunctioned and stopped pumping water to the steam generators of Reactor No. 2 at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant located near Middletown, Pennsylvania, only 14 months into the reactors operational life span. The reactor automatically shut down due to its loss of feed-water, but the temperatures continued to rise. The backup cooling system had been improperly locked closed and therefore could not provide cooling water to the atomic reactor. Without cold water being pumped to the steam generator and condensing the steam back to water, both pressure and heat began to build inside the reactor. A pressure-relief valve automatically opened as it was designed to do and the pressure levels dropped, but due to a mechanical failure, the valve did not shut properly, unbeknownst to the operators. Steam continued escaping through the open valve, yet without a sufficient amount of new coolant being pumped into the atomic reactor, the water that the fuel rods are submerged in began to boil off, eventually exposing the fuel rods to the air, causing a meltdown. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) still maintains that the whole event emitted only a very small amount of radioactivity. The NRC also claims that the meltdown had no detectable health effects on the operators or any people in the community. Witness accounts and calculations done by independent scientists and epidemiologists have shown that the amount of radiation that was released was quite considerable and caused a wide array of health conditions for the area’s residents, some of which are quite serious and have only been realized years after the meltdown.
Fairewinds 28th March 2017 read more »