March 28 - 1979 - The Three Mile Island Nuclear Accident
The Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant was not particularly special among nuclear power plants until a safety valve got stuck open, causing radiation to be released from the reactor. To compound the issue, people working at the plant in the early morning hours of March 28, 1979 were unaware there was an issue, because the warning light system was not well functioning. By a shift change at 6 AM, an hour and a half after the problem arose, temperature levels were shockingly high and radiated coolant steam had to be released. This is also when authorities are alerted and an emergency is declared. The problem was fairly well contained pretty quickly, although the reactor was still melted, and state and federal agencies were able to handle everything fairly well. Still, many people in the area and around the country were reasonably unsettled by the fact a nuclear power plant had a meltdown. President Jimmy Carter formed a special panel to investigate the incident, and many people wondered what the Nuclear Regulatory Commission could change to prevent future accidents. More importantly, Americans turn on the very concept of nuclear power.