Meltdown: Three Mile Island (2022) s01e02 Episode Script

Women and Children First

1 [somber music playing.]
[Dick Thornburgh.]
Based on advice of the chairman of the NRC, I am advising those who may be particularly susceptible to the effects of any radiation, that is pregnant women and preschool-aged children to leave the area within a five-mile radius of the Three Mile Island facility until further notice.
[sirens blaring.]
This and other contingency measures are based on my belief that an excess of caution is best.
Remain indoors.
Close all windows and doors.
This is only being held as a precautionary measure.
Businesses have shut down as owners and workers left the area.
Schools within five miles of the nuclear plant were closed indefinitely today.
[sirens blaring.]
I remember it being very, very chaotic in the classroom.
The teachers were convening in the hallway.
As a six-year-old, you're just nosy, period.
But you could see by the faces that it was definitely something alarming.
[phone rings.]
I know my mother called the school several times, but there was no way to get through.
I just remember them telling us to get back in our seats and trying to keep us calm, and keep us busy, that we would be bussed back home.
[car honking.]
Looking out the window, all you could see were cars lined up to get out.
[cars honking.]
[sirens blaring.]
The horns were tremendous.
It was something where you could just hold your ears.
[car honking.]
[sirens blaring.]
[dramatic music playing.]
I did see people that were dressed in white suits walking up and down the road.
I'm thinking, "Wow, this is kind of like Star Wars.
" You know, stormtroopers.
But I didn't understand why they were there.
"What is gonna happen?" [dramatic music rising.]
Civil defense officials throughout the adjacent four counties have established evacuation centers for those wishing to leave.
And residents within a ten-mile radius have been urged to stay indoors indefinitely.
Close all windows and doors.
Tune to your favorite radio or television station to await further instructions.
Thornburgh emphasized more than once he nor anyone else has not yet ordered an evacuation, but he did admit there's always that possibility.
We are simply asking everybody to be prepared to move, but do not move at this time.
Nobody is in any danger at this time.
The governor was very specific in saying, "This is precautionary and precautionary only.
" But what it did cause was what we were trying to avoid panic.
Where are you going to? I'm going to my mother's.
I have nowhere else to go at this point.
I'm just gonna go, get out.
I'm not coming back.
Luckily, my husband was home that day.
We had a preschool child and I said to him, "We seriously need to go.
" One of the pains that I had leaving was, "What do you take with you?" It was very important for me to have our children's birth certificates that if, God forbid, we were ever separated, I could prove they were my children.
That is one of the things I thought about.
And when we pulled out of that driveway, I looked back at all that I loved and wondered if I would ever come back.
[voice breaking.]
Very difficult.
What did you think when you heard this latest news? Like runnin'.
When my kiddos came home, I didn't wanna panic them.
So, I said, "We're gonna go to Nana and Pop-pop's for a little mini vacation.
" My goal was to get our children away from this, whatever this monster was.
[reporter 1.]
Area residents aren't waiting for an official evacuation to be called.
Nearly half the population has left.
[reporter 2.]
 So many people left Middletown today, police officials have imposed a 9:00 p.
to 7:00 a.
curfew here to forestall the possibility of looting.
[reporter 3.]
It is now apparent that the nuclear accident that occurred on Wednesday morning was a lot more complicated and a lot more serious than the public was first led to believe.
As we left our home, I really had no understanding of what was happening, but I knew there was something wrong.
And thinking, "Are we ever gonna be able to come back?" "Is my house still gonna be here?" I think about seeing the people's faces in their vehicles.
People were scared.
[tense music playing.]
Officials disclosed today that radiation in the building's dome was measured at 30,000 rems an hour, Seventy-five times the lethal dose for a human being, and 3,000 times the level for a nuclear reactor in normal operation.
The plume, which is the radioactive cloud that travels with the wind.
It was heading in the north direction, exactly where we were evacuating.
What you want to do is to try and keep this stuff off of you.
If you would have to happen to get out and get some on you, the best way to do is get in, take your clothes off, wash your clothes When we got to my in-laws, they had us all um, remove our clothes, and take a shower and change our clothes.
And I remember thinking at the time, "I felt like a leper.
" [Walter Cronkite.]
On this incredible third day of the accident, confusion, contradiction, and questions clouded the atmosphere like atomic particles.
And as we watched Walter Cronkite on national news, I think most of us were shocked that something like this happened to our little town.
But not everyone was leaving.
Some said they would stay.
We did not leave Middletown, didn't think about leaving.
If I was a younger man with kids, I probably would have.
People who had choices to leave the area were going to leave, but there were many people who did not have those options.
There was a realization that the community truly never ever would be the same again.
Current readings are no higher today than they were yesterday.
We went to my grandmother's home, which was only ten miles away in Harrisburg.
I was very inquisitive, so I was listening to the adult conversations and what was going on.
[reporter 1.]
The situation here has become more and more confusing each day since the initial release on Wednesday morning [reporter 2.]
Company officials said the radiation leaks had been stopped.
Nuclear regulatory officials said the leaks were continuing.
It was just overwhelming.
Has the governor set up any designating one person or set up any task force just to oversee all the various ramifications I think he's starting to think along those lines of setting up a task force.
The management of information turned out to be one of the great challenges of this crisis.
There were a thousand rumors and conflicting sources of information.
And we had to establish a credible source that people knew they could trust.
So Governor Thornburgh called the president.
[phone rings.]
[Jessica Mathews.]
At the time, I was the point person for the president on the accident.
The governor asked President Carter for one person who will oversee managing this thing on the ground and will be the one person who speaks to the press.
The president got involved because it was a time when energy policy was a constant source of anxiety.
And there certainly was a feeling that we needed nuclear power.
But he was also a nuclear engineer by training.
He'd been part of the nuclear navy.
Carter is no stranger to nuclear plant accidents.
He has described how in the early 1950s, as a Navy nuclear engineer trainee, he led a group of 22 men down into the core of a reactor at Chalk River, Canada, where a meltdown had occurred.
The president says he spent one minute and 29 seconds there helping dismantle that reactor.
And so he felt very comfortable about the integrity of the technology.
The president has dispatched his personal representative, Mr.
Harold Denton, Chief Operations Officer of the NRC to assist me and work with our experts to monitor the situation and keep the public fully informed.
[Rick Parks.]
Harold Denton was considered within the NRC to be one of the more knowledgeable people on site.
He was Jimmy Carter's personal representative on Three Mile Island to assess the situation there at the utility and provide him with feedback on what was truly happening.
[Harold Denton.]
We are concerned about the status of the fuel in the core.
There's also a bubble in the reactor vessel that means that any change in the hydraulics of the core have to be carefully monitored [Bill.]
Denton said to us, "There's a hydrogen bubble inside the reactor which, if left to its own devices, could explode.
" And for the first time from the beginning of this, I will admit that I got scared.
Because the consequences of a hydrogen bubble, potentially, were disastrous.
CBS Reports, Danger at Three Mile Island.
The situation inside the nuclear reactor is stable for the moment, but fraught with danger.
At the top of the reactor vessel, a bubble has formed radioactive gas.
[Michio Kaku.]
A new stage in the accident had opened up.
A hydrogen gas bubble forming at the heart of a nuclear power plant with unknown consequences.
Hydrogen explodes, and therefore, there was the possibility of an explosion there inside the reactor itself.
This is what happened, by the way, at Chernobyl.
Hydrogen gas explosion blew the entire roof of the reactor apart leading to radiation being released into the environment.
That accident took place in 1986, and for centuries parts of that area around Chernobyl will be sealed off.
The bubble that's in the reactor vessel is mainly hydrogen.
And therefore, if there is a source of oxygen, and an ignition source, it could burn.
When I heard about the hydrogen bubble, I realized there was such a chance that we were gonna lose everything.
Everything that we ever worked for, any Everything would be gone.
very current about the problem in Three Mile Island.
How dangerous is it? Are we running the risk of a China Syndrome? Could there be a massive disaster? Is it remote or impossible? [Ralph Lapp.]
There's always been the possibility of a China Syndrome.
This has been built into all calculations.
[man 1.]
The catastrophes we're talking about here in a massive meltdown are tens of thousands of deaths, hundreds of thousands of cancers, contamination of thousands of square miles of land.
Lapp, what has been stated [Joyce.]
I was extremely frightened because there was no place in Central Pennsylvania that was safe.
The chances of us surviving even 40 miles away could have been put into jeopardy.
Everybody was afraid of nuclear power by the time they heard about the hydrogen bubble blowing up the reactor.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the utility just blew it on their communications.
Not only between each other, but with the people.
They let the people live in fear while they tried to decide what to do.
So we are faced with the remote, but very real possibility of a nuclear meltdown at the Three Mile Island atomic power plant.
[unsettling music plays.]
[Denton speaking indistinctly.]
I've got the staff continuing to look at the question of how much time to detonation and whether or not the temperatures [Bill.]
That Saturday was a very, very unnerving day.
Scientists concerned that the 600-degree temperature in the reactor fuel was hot enough to detonate the gaseous bubble.
We had a problem which was almost pure mathematics, and we had to wait while the experts were trying to figure out whether we had a seriously dangerous bubble.
The 1,000 nuclear scientists and technicians who are gathered here in an effort to save the reactor still have a number of problems to resolve.
Engineers were being called in from around the world.
"How dangerous is this? How do you defuse it?" The future of nuclear energy was in the balance.
One government study estimated in such an event forty-five thousand would be killed, a quarter of a million injured.
It is that possibility that has authorities considering evacuation.
And at the highest levels, there were discussions about evacuating millions of people.
We were living the worst-case scenario.
Officials at the company and government say the situation is stable, but disagree on vital facts.
[reporter 2.]
Experts are unable to draw meaningful conclusions about the size of the hydrogen bubble.
[Lake H.
I knew there was differences of opinion in part of the NRC of what in Heaven's name is going on.
"It could explode," and, "Should people move?" I got calls from relatives that lived in Philadelphia, "We're downwind, should we go to our cousin's in New York?" I said, "Slow down, slow down.
" You know? [reporter.]
There is no way for nuclear scientists to eliminate the dangerous hydrogen gas bubble inside the reactor without running at least some risk of a core meltdown.
We were doing analysis, working on the issue, trying to put it into relative risk terms.
But it becomes a hugely emotional risk, and things can just go crazy, especially in the public media.
Under present conditions, oxygen may slowly be entering the hydrogen bubble.
The more oxygen, the more danger of a hydrogen explosion in the reactor.
Two dangers persist.
One from that trapped gas bubble.
The other from the build-up of radioactive material in the containment room.
Saturday night, in an AP bulletin that ran right across the bottoms of the TV screens, "Hydrogen bubble in reactor is showing signs of becoming potentially explosive.
" showing signs of becoming potentially explosive.
The chairman of the NRC said, "It may be prudent to evacuate people from the area.
" At that moment, 25 reporters burst through the doors of my office.
"Should we leave?" They were shouting at me.
One of them was even crying.
Palpable panic set in.
As anxiety builds, many people have relocated to shelters, including this sports arena, 11 miles away from the plant.
[dramatic music playing.]
I couldn't make sense of it but ask, "What's going on?" "Are we gonna die?" It was like living on the edge, like just holding on, white-knuckled.
What happens to this plant? Does it blow up like nuclear bombs? What does a meltdown really mean? The fear became greater because it was the fear of the unknown.
It may not show up now, but what's 25 years from now if there was an exposure? [Bill.]
I had a wife who was pregnant.
And I went to the evacuation center with the governor and my family.
We wanted to stop rumors that were upsetting people, that only generated greater fear.
Can you explain what dangers there are left? How dangerous are things? Only if the efforts that are now underway prove unsuccessful will we have to turn to another option.
[speaking indistinctly.]
And with the growing concern about the hydrogen bubble, Governor Thornburgh said to the president, "I would like the Federal Government's recommendation," as to whether or not he should go beyond the five-mile precautionary evacuation and order a broad scale 360-degree evacuation.
But the concern was the lasting impact on the nuclear industry.
This is a very tough call to make when you don't have really clear knowledge to go on.
So the president decided late on Saturday, the most important thing he could do would be to go visit the reactor as a way to quiet public fears.
[church bells toll.]
We are going to pray to God to take care of us in the midst of all this confusion and uncertainty about these times.
We trust the Lord that nothing further is going to happen other than what has.
When President Carter got there, everything was still pretty much in a state of chaos.
There was a potential that the hydrogen bubble was gonna blow up.
But with the president showing up at Three Mile Island, that reinforced to the nuclear industry that, "Hey, you know, guys, I'm kinda on your side here," and showing everybody, "Nuclear is not bad.
" And the main job of President Carter coming to Three Mile Island was to reassure the American public they had nothing to fear.
My primary concern in coming here this afternoon has been to learn as much as I possibly can as president about the problems at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant.
And to assure the people of this region that everything possible is being done and will be done to cope with these problems.
President Carter was making an effort to explain, "We know what we're doing.
We're gonna take care of you.
" "You're in no danger.
" [whirring.]
After the president left the island, Harold Denton's staff went through all of its calculations.
They were going back and forth, but it wasn't until they found a mistake that finally confirmed that the hydrogen bubble did not present a serious threat.
Is there danger to people in the surrounding area? I don't consider there is any imminent hazard today.
The situation has stabilized.
But it's very important that the way they bring the core to a cold shutdown condition with this bubble [Bill.]
I was so relieved.
We had gotten through it without the loss of life.
And to me, the immediate crisis phase was over.
This nuclear accident obviously causes all of us concern.
You deserve a full accounting, and you will get it.
I've directed the establishment of an independent presidential commission of experts to investigate the causes of this accident and to make recommendations on how we can improve the safety of nuclear power plants.
It was a week ago today that the accident began at the Three Mile Island atomic power plant in Pennsylvania.
And today, that damaged plant still is venting some radioactivity into the surrounding air.
[reporter 2.]
 Government scientists spent the morning in helicopters, measuring radiation still leaking from the plant.
They had to get the hydrogen out of the reactor.
So what they came up with was a method that they could vent off noble gases and anything else.
That would lower pressure.
Expected release of radiation today from Three Mile Island nuclear power plant has led to a series of consequences.
But every time they opened that vent valve, there was an uncontrolled release of radiation to the environment.
They had no choice.
They had to do it.
What were my children and myself exposed to in those three days? And the irresponsibility of Met-Ed, and the irresponsibility of NRC, and how could this ever happen? And, uh I just hope that we do not become a statistic ten, 20, 30 years from now, but I know we're gonna be a statistic.
Have you lived through a cancer death? I have.
[voice breaks.]
If that one is my son, or my wife or me, I think it's wrong.
[slams fist on podium.]
We spent a lot of time trying to determine how much radiation actually was continuing to release into the atmosphere.
In a van nearby, a government scientist used a computer to analyze air, water, and vegetation samples.
But the level, they were telling us, was not significant when it comes to the health of people in the area.
The entire federal medical establishment said people in the Harrisburg area have nothing to worry about.
We would expect to find no additional cancer deaths in this population as the result of radiation exposure today.
A nuclear specialist had been quoted as observing that alarming reports had probably caused more psychological harm than did the radiation during these seven days of tension.
The fact is that at no time have a variety of test measurements shown levels of contamination that were dangerous to normally healthy people.
[Eric Epstein.]
This industry was in a rush to exonerate itself immediately after the accident.
And our best measurement tool, unfortunately, are human beings.
If you don't look, you don't find.
And a number of the monitors were not capable of picking up the amount of radiation that escaped.
[George Wald.]
Every dose of radiation is an overdose.
A little of that radiation does a little harm, more of it does more harm.
Nobody really knows how much radiation came out because we don't have the numbers.
The estimates of radiation damage at Three Mile Island neglect all sorts of different kinds of variables.
Anyone who says definitively how much radiation came out of that accident is either lying or a fool.
Small traces of radioactive iodine have turned up in milk samples from the area.
Hershey has not used any new milk since the accident and is testing its products for radioactivity.
Areas where the plant dumped waste water are also testing positive for radioactive iodine.
After the evacuation when we came back, I wanted to go to the boat ramp.
That used to be one of my fun places to go where you take rocks and skip 'em.
But what I remember seeing were a lot a lot of dead fish.
And it was up and down the river banks.
I remember thinking, "There was something released in there that was more powerful than what they let on.
" People were still kind of leery of what happened.
For the first time in ten days, the Governor of Pennsylvania lifted all of his orders regarding the power plant accident.
This allowed the schools to reopen and pregnant women to return to their homes in a five-mile radius of the plant.
It looks normal, seems normal, but we came back, and everything we had was still in limbo.
[man 1.]
I was down around the plant and, uh on certain days, you could taste a metallic taste in your mouth.
[man 2.]
Those few days we spent across from Three Mile Island, we did get sore throats.
And everybody around the area had had a sore throat.
My son, he said, "Mom, I threw up.
" Just this unbelievable green-colored mucus.
And it really frightened me, and, um I called our pediatrician immediately, and he said to me, "Joyce, I really don't know.
" A girl who was in high school at the time, she had been outdoors Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, riding around all day on a bike in Middletown.
Her skin broke out with lesions.
When you dig deeper and talk to people in the community, they had metallic taste, eye irritation, diarrhea, projectile vomiting.
All the experiences you would have with being exposed to radiation.
And radiation has long-term, adverse health effects that could cause cancer.
Middletown's 11,000 residents have serious concerns about their health and safety.
Prior to the accident, I was in my own little world.
No thought about radiation, or the dangers, or anything.
Pick this flyer up on low-level radiation.
But when something like that happens to you, that you can lose everything Your children's lives were on the line.
I knew I had to stop living in la-la land, and it was time to educate myself and see what actually happened.
[chanting indistinctly.]
For Harrisburg, it was a large gathering on the front steps of the Capitol.
They said it was time to shut down for good the crippled Three Mile Island plant.
People were beginning to say, "No nuclear power," which was something you were never gonna hear of under normal circumstances in our community.
For a community like ours, that's probably part of the problem.
Nobody really questioned nuclear when it came to the community.
Three Mile Island Alert planned this rally today.
Three Mile Island Alert was organized in 1977 out of concerns about nuclear power, and we were on the margins.
But there's nothing like an accident, and a meltdown, to turn you from a pariah into a messiah.
There was a time when I would believe the government officials.
But now I don't wanna even be asked to believe.
Right here is why we're here.
I decided to start to go to community meetings.
And the NRC was going to be down there.
They started out by telling us, "The radiation that your children got was no more than if you had smoked a cigarette or had drunk a glass of wine.
" In the state of Pennsylvania, you can't give my children wine and cigarettes.
Why are you allowed to give me radiation that's equated to that? [reporter.]
More than 300 residents confronted the city council.
We're gonna take all these things under advisement.
But there was a point in going to the different meetings in the township where I realized when one question was asked, the NRC answered, and then at another meeting, the same question was asked, and it was a completely different answer.
Officials insisted that the residents have nothing to worry about.
And I thought, "They're either lying to us, or they don't know what they're doing.
" [reporter.]
Fear of what could happen spawned one of the strongest anti-nuke movements in the country.
No nuke! No nuke! [Jane Fonda.]
The real message of The China Syndrome is that if we continue to place our health and safety in the hands of utility executives whose main goal is to maximize profits, then we will see more Harrisburgs, and we will see an increase in the cancer epidemic that is already running rampant in this country.
I remember high school in '65.
Vietnam War in full swing.
I was so against protesters.
People marching down Pennsylvania Avenue questioning our government.
"How dare they?" [dramatic music playing.]
The rose-colored glasses were ripped off my face.
I mean, it changed me.
I went from housewife to activist.
And I marched down the same streets in Pennsylvania Avenue, fighting what Three Mile Island did to us.
What we're doing here today is more important than dealing with racism, than dealing with sexism, than dealing with hunger, 'cause I can feel hunger! I can see war! I can feel racism! I cannot see radiation! I cannot smell radiation! I look around one day, and I am damned! [reporter.]
The accident at the Three Mile Island plant has instantly intensified the debate over the safety of nuclear power, and this could call the whole future of the nuclear industry into question.
[birds chirping.]
[reporter 1.]
The president's commission on the Three Mile Island nuclear plant presented its final report today.
[reporter 2.]
All the key personalities came to the hearing, like the men at the controls when the light started to flash.
Each was asked to recite just what he did that made a bad accident worse.
I'm the one that turned off the reactor coolant pumps initially.
In my own mind, just the failure to recognize that we had a relief valve that was still partially open or open was probably the biggest event.
People before Three Mile Island always looked at, "An operator will always assist you in a problem.
" We found out the operator, doing well-meaning actions from their mind, actually did something that was very detrimental to cooling the core.
I also throttled the high-pressure injection.
They were in a condition they had never been trained for, and there were many cases of miscommunication and misunderstanding.
So they were a little lost.
But at the time, everybody was trying to do what they thought was the right thing.
A large number of the errors made in the course of this accident were human errors.
Out of the six things that went wrong, about four and a half were people errors.
One was an equipment malfunction, and maybe one was a design error.
The presidential commission says one piece of testimony shocked its chairman.
Before the Three Mile Island accident, there had been repeated problems with pressure safety valves of Babcock & Wilcox reactors.
This should have forewarned the possibility of an accident.
There's been in, in the past, a certain philosophy developed in NRC about reactor safety that these accidents couldn't happen.
[Peter Bradford.]
Jim Creswell was an NRC inspector who was sent to look into a set of events that had taken place at the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant in Ohio.
They didn't actually have an accident, but they came close enough to arouse concern.
So, Creswell requested an appointment with me about these valve issues.
And we met just six days before the accident at Three Mile Island.
I obviously thought that they were serious.
We developed a memo with a request that they treat it with some urgency at NRC headquarters.
But, unfortunately, the response came back on the second day of the accident saying, "You don't really have to worry about this sequence.
" Clearly, the Davis-Besse event is one that the NRC and everybody wishes had been more widely disseminated and understood before Three Mile Island.
While an investigation was conducted, sources say the NRC didn't take Jim Creswell's concerns seriously, and the inquiry was designed less to solve a problem than to quiet Creswell.
Days prior to the core melt accident at Three Mile Island, Jim Creswell sent up a flare, and nobody listened.
that these accidents couldn't happen.
Three Mile Island was avoidable.
The accident didn't need to happen.
If the NRC and the industry would just listen to their staff.
Perhaps post-TMI, there's a different philosophy.
But there's not a culture of safety.
There's a culture of bottom line.
The bottom line is, "At any cost we need to make this thing profitable.
" "We need to make it work.
" So the reality was that the investigation into the severity of the accident at Three Mile Island by the president's commission was a whitewash.
Thank you very much.
The commission found very serious shortcomings in the way that both the government and the utility industry regulate and manage nuclear power.
But we cannot shut the door on nuclear power for the United States.
[somber music playing.]
[Floyd Lewis.]
It's quite clear that the president's commission has given us and the American public a simple message on nuclear power.
Proceed, but proceed with caution.
People who live near the nuclear accident are struggling to deal with it.
It proved that they are so far from seeing the reality of our community.
Local residents and government officials greeted the commissioners with anger.
You could feel the anger and the frustration.
Where do we really count in making these decisions, or do we count at all? When you're talking about the future and the lives of your children, your grandchildren, your future great-grandchildren it is raw.
It is raw.
At a nuclear regulatory study released today found that the Three Mile Island accident drove 44,000 people from their homes and cost 18.
2 million dollars in evacuation expenses and lost wages.
When the fire and the hurricanes are over, you can come back, and you can rebuild.
We came back, and the problem was still here.
I could either accept what they said, and go with the flow, or I could be the master of my own fate, and I wanted to know the truth.
[somber music playing.]
Even after President Carter came, after the hydrogen bubble, the whole accident scenario that occurred at Three Mile Island had a huge impact on the nuclear industry.
But nobody knew for sure how much damage was done to the reactor.
Until now, experts could only guess the true damage done to the nuclear power plant at Three Mile Island, but today technicians will have first-hand evidence of what really happened inside the reactor core.
July of 1982, we performed a procedure that we termed "quick look.
" We sent radiation monitoring equipment and a camera down into the core where we could survey the damage.
There was great technological debate about how much damage was in the core.
So we had live TV, and we had live audio as he lowered it in, and it was complete silence in the room.
Both cables are going down.
We're now two feet into the core.
We We are approaching four feet.
Four feet.
People are saying, "Oh, my goodness.
" [Rick.]
It's five feet down.
 Go slow right there.
See if we can get that.
- [man.]
All right.
Let me slow down here.
- [Rick.]
Just slow We've got so much light.
Can we [teletector pegging.]
Beautiful picture, Norman.
Well, I'd love to know what the hell it is.
We discovered that the upper one half of the core had literally just collapsed in on top of itself.
It was a molten mess.
There was a lot more damage done to the reactor than anybody thought we had done.
We're talking about massive core damage.
When they lost cooling water, the core had been exposed and melted at that point.
Meaning that we came within of maybe 30 minutes of a catastrophe involving a steam explosion blowing the entire reactor apart.
[tense music playing.]
Thirty minutes.
I didn't realize it was 30 minutes.
Dear God [Paula.]
It was a meltdown.
The accident at Three Mile Island was the worst nuclear accident that ever happened on American soil.
Little did we know there was another scenario awaiting us that was potentially much more dangerous than the accident.
[closing theme music playing.]

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