One of the most frightening industrial accidents in the U.S. occurred March 28th in 1979. It was 4 a.m. at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant on the Susquehanna River, south of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. A cascading chain of events started when someone mistakenly cross connected air and water lines in the plant’s number two reactor. Before the crisis was over, the plant reportedly came close to a hydrogen gas explosion and a meltdown of its uranium core, which would have caused extensive radiation contamination. The incident sparked a large scale review of how nuclear power plants were built and operated. Today, there are 104 such generating plants across the country, producing nearly one-fifth of the country’s electricity. Profile America is in its 15th year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.
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