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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

Facts about nuclear power in the US, ten years after the Chernobyl accident.


CURWOOD: There's been a lot of talk about the 10th anniversary of the meltdown of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant this month. But what about the worst nuclear power plant accident in US history? On March 28, 1979, at Unit 2 of the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, a minor mechanical malfunction compounded by human error damaged the nuclear reactor core, threatening a massive release of radioactive materials. While technicians were able to avert a major disaster, some radiation did leak, and was detected up to 20 miles from the site. The cost of shutting down and cleaning up Unit 2: nearly a billion dollars. Unit 1 is still up and running. In the 17 years since Three Mile Island, 55 nuclear power plants have received operating licenses in the US. Seven reactors have been shut down in that time. Nearly 3 million Americans live within 10 miles of an operating nuclear power plant. And that's the Living on Earth Almanac this third week of April, 1996.



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