Three decades have passed since the morning of March 28, 1979, when the worst nuclear accident in U.S. history took place at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania. Those harrowing days are long gone, yet renewed interest in nuclear energy makes the lessons learned from the accident as relevant as ever.
Humbled by the accident at Three Mile Island, the nuclear industry has changed for the better in the years since.
While industry has improved nuclear power plant safety and security since TMI, it needs to do more to prevent future reactor accidents.
In the midst of the worst nuclear accident in U.S. history, former NRC Commissioner Victor Gilinsky writes that it was not all deadly serious--at some points it was just absurd.
The NRC's chief historian recounts how popular accounts of the accident skewed essential facts and suggests that the industry still be on guard for complacency.
Nuclear proponents cite new, safer reactor designs to assuage fears about accidents. Yet safety features may lose out to economics, and new plants could be little safer than the current fleet.
The accident at Three Mile Island presented the U.S. nuclear power industry with serious problems but, writes NRC Commissioner Victor Gilinsky, the industry was already in serious trouble.
The final report on Three Mile Island offers within its voluminous pages almost any message an attentive reader wants to find. Nuclear advocates see it as a license to proceed cautiously, anti-nuclear groups as a blistering critique.
The accident at Three Mile Island shattered the myth that a serious accident was impossible. What couldn't be predicted was that human error would play such a large role in an accident.
Public fears of nuclear accidents raise difficult problems for democratic institutions. Who can judge the risk? Who can fashion an energy policy?
In light of the accident at Three Mile Island, increasing reliance on nuclear power, without a dramatic improvement in safety, needs to be reassessed.