Jonathan Dorsey and Carter Johnstone
What is a Nuclear Power Plant Disaster?
Reaction in Nuclear Power Plants
Fukushima Nuclear Meltdown
Three Mile Island Accident
In March 1979, a series of mechanical and human errors at the Three Mile Island nuclear generating plant near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, resulted in an accident that profoundly affected the utility industry. The power plant, a pioneer nuclear plant, paved the path for generating energy in the future. The accident occurred when the reactor was operating at 97%. There was a malfunction with the cooling circuit which caused the uranium core to overheat. The nuclear plant automatically went into shutdown , however, the operators were unable to correctly analyze and respond to the unplanned occurrence. The operators hurriedly tried to fix the coolants in order to cool the still hot core. While they did cool down the uranium core, radioactive gases from the reactor were released into the environment. In the following months of the accident, suspicions raised and worries growing, meticulous investigations were conducted to research the true effects of the accident. With thousands of samples tested, the effects of the increased nuclear radiation proved to have negligible on effects physical health and the environment. Even with little physical affects, the people of America became ambivalent towards generating energy via nuclear substances. New reforms and requirements were enforced in order to create a safer way to have nuclear energy. Plant designs, equipment requirements, emergency preparedness requirements, and scheduled inspections were all effects of The Three Mile Island Accident.
Chernobyl - The Biggest Man-Made Disaster
Despite the environmental fallout and resulting nuclear waste releases, we believe that these nuclear power plant disasters were beneficial in the long run. While the environment may have been harmed, human learning and experience with nuclear power plants has greatly increased in response to the nuclear power plant failures. For example, after the Three Mile Island incident in Pennsylvania, the United States took measures to ensure that a similar nuclear meltdown wouldn't occur again. Reforms were implemented that tightened restrictions on the production of nuclear energy and plant designs were entirely reconstructed in order to prevent the escape of volatile radioactive gases in the event of a meltdown. Likewise, the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant taught us that despite having a state-of-the-art facility, a nuclear meltdown can still occur. Even though there were numerous safety measures in place to prevent a meltdown such as the backup generators and vent stacks and the coolant system, four of the six reactors still experienced a meltdown and released their radioactive toxins into the air. Also, the Fukushima disaster highlighted the ineffectiveness of the communication system in many nuclear plants; records of the evacuated were not kept, vital information regarding health advisories and evacuation necessity were deleted, the disaster itself was mismanaged (radioactive gases continued to be released into the air weeks after the meltdown), and inaccurate surveys regarding the amount of radioactive waste released were conducted. Now, communication among workers has been reformed, and new improvements in nuclear reactors such as Passive Auto-catalytic hydrogen Recombiners (machines that combine dangerous hydrogen gas with oxygen to form water), 3-day backup batteries for battery-powered generators, and Filtered Containment Venting Systems (systems that successfully cool and vent the reactor core without the use of electricity) are being introduced that will ensure shutdown in the event of an emergency. In summation, nuclear power plant disasters have all shed light on the flaws within the industry and have helped create a more reliable form of nuclear energy production through reforms and innovations.