Is Three Mile Island Still Radioactive? Can You Visit 3 Mile Island? Let’s find out. The Three Mile Island accident occurred when the Three Mile Island, Unit 2 (TMI-2) reactor in Pennsylvania, United States, partially melted down. On March 28, 1979, around 4 a.m., everything began. It is the most serious accident in the history of commercial nuclear power plants in the United States. It is a Level 5 – Accident with Wider Consequences on the seven-point International Nuclear Event Scale.
The catastrophe heightened anti-nuclear safety worries among activists and the broader public, leading to additional nuclear sector regulations. It has been blamed for contributing to the slowdown in new reactor buildings that began in the 1970s. Radioactive gases and radioactive iodine were released into the environment due to the partial meltdown.
Anti-nuclear groups raised concerns about the accident’s impact on regional health. The cleanup began in August 1979 and was completed in December 1993 at the cost of approximately $1 billion.
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Have you seen the #meltdownthreemileisland trailer featuring our Legal Director Tom Devine? It features his work defending and seeking justice for a whistleblower at the cleanup of Three Mile Island, the worst nuclear accident in U.S. history, premiering on May 4th on @Netflix. pic.twitter.com/U432nAnPQV
— Government Accountability Project (@GovAcctProj) May 2, 2022
Netflix Four-part Docuseries ‘Meltdown: Three Mile Island’
The partial core meltdown at Three Mile Island near Middletown, Pennsylvania, in 1979 was regarded as the worst nuclear power plant catastrophe in US history. While a big tragedy was averted in the end, the contradicting reports about radioactive leaks that occurred at the start generated a lot of concern among the local inhabitants. ‘Meltdown: Three Mile Island,’ a four-part Netflix docuseries, delves into what led to the disaster and how it was handled. Here’s what we know about the island’s present status and whether Three Mile Island Still Radioactive or not.
Is Three Mile Island Still a Nuclear Power Plant?
On March 28, 1979, one of Three Mile Island’s two reactors began to malfunction. Pumps were unable to transfer water to the generators that cool the nuclear reactor due to a mechanical or electrical breakdown at 4 a.m. that morning. Following a series of events, the nuclear core was exposed, resulting in a partial meltdown. The accident was caused by a combination of equipment failure, worker mistake, and design flaws.
The firm that built the facility first claimed that no radiation had been discovered, but due to conflicting information, roughly 140,000 Middletown residents initially abandoned the town. In addition to testing undertaken by the EPA, the Department of Energy, and others, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission conducted investigations on the radioactivity in the area later.
It was determined that the subjects received an extra millirem on average over the usual background dose. Several other investigations found that, despite the reactor’s damage, the emission had no significant impact on the health of the people living in the region.
However, in the early 1980s, one research reported a two-year increase in cancer rates in the population of the Three Mile Island area. While the second unit was shut down permanently after the accident, Unit 1 reopened in 1985.
About 99 percent of the fuel in the second unit was removed over time, and the radioactive water was decontaminated. Furthermore, the accident’s radioactive waste was transported off-site.
However, the decommissioning is not expected to be finished until 2037, and the interior areas still have high amounts of radiation. Unit 1 was decommissioned in the year 2019. Even though the area is still radioactive, it is not deemed dangerous to people or the environment.
Because it worked until recently, radioactive material was still present on-site, according to Aaron Datesman, an energy scientist. “A human standing close to an unshielded hot fuel rod would receive a deadly dosage of radiation in few minutes,” he said, adding that the used fuel rods are radioactive. The spent fuel rods must be kept in a pool of water for a long time, allowing the radioactivity to degrade slowly over years or decades.”
The decommissioning of the reactors would take decades, and the radioactive waste would be left on the island. “TMI is going to remain radioactive for the rest of human history,” claimed Eric Epstein, a resident of nearby Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
An island in the Susquehanna is the worst place I can conceive of to store radioactive waste.” He believed that if the garbage was held on the island, a natural calamity could result in the discharge of radioactivity.
Is it Possible to Visit 3 Mile Island? Is it Accessible to the General Public?
3Mile Island’s Unit 1 was permanently shut down in September 2019, although the process is still ongoing. The dismantling isn’t expected until 2074, and the radioactive waste won’t be transported or disposed of for another four years, until 2078. While tours of the island were once available, the public was only permitted to view certain facilities after 2015, such as the control room simulator and training centre.
The general public appears to be denied access due to the radioactive components that remain on the island. The factory can still be seen from a route south of Harrisburg International Airport that runs alongside the river. While the facility employed over 500 employees at the time of Unit 1’s closure in 2019, it was expected that number would shrink to around 50 by the end of year 2022.
Stream ‘Meltdown: Three Mile Island’ on Netflix.