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40 Years After A Partial Nuclear Meltdown, A New Push To Keep Three Mile Island Open via NPR


Confusion and fear
On March 28, 1979, Three Mile Island’s Unit 2 reactor suffered a partial meltdown after a pump stopped sending water to the steam generators that removed heat from the reactor core. The accident was a combination of human error, design deficiencies and equipment failures. 

The accident happened around 4 a.m. on a Wednesday, but it took several days before people understood the severity of the problem, as public officials struggled to explain what was happening. By Friday, then-Gov. Dick Thornburgh recommended that pregnant women and young children evacuate.


Joyce Corradi was a young mother of four, running a day care out of her home in Middletown, a few miles from the plant. Her most vivid memory is pulling out of her driveway, wondering if her life would ever be the same.

“I took our marriage certificate and I took our children’s birth certificates,” Corradi says. “I was concerned that, if in the confusion things really got bad, that I could prove those were my children and that we could at least be together.”

She would return 10 days later. A small amount of radiation was released, but in the end, it wasn’t a disaster. In 1985, Three Mile Island reopened, minus the one damaged reactor. Although some of her friends moved away, Corradi still lives in the same house, but feels the plant always looming in the background.


As someone who lived through the Three Mile Island accident, Joyce Corradi would be happier to see the plant close. But because the U.S. still has no real plan to deal with its radioactive nuclear waste, it will still be stored at the plant, sitting in her town indefinitely.

Even today, she avoids driving by the plant’s large, gray cooling towers.
“I find that really, 40 years down the road,” she says, “I’m still sitting on top of a plant that has all the waste, a plant that cannot sell its electricity, and there’s still no real answers.”

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  1. yukimiyamotodepaul says

    It is highly disappointing to hear that NPR is still introducing the NPP as a savior for the increasing carbon dioxide.

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