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Nuclear Disaster Research Project Essay

1193 words - 5 pages

Timeline of Events in 1986


Plant power declining indicating the beginning of the reactor shutdown.

Emergency Core Cooling System was disengaged.

Automated regulation system was turned off.

Power decreased to 30 Mwt.

Power reduction resumed.


Operating reactivity margin reduces to under 30 rods.

Increased power to 200 Mtw by withdrawing rods as well as starting two additional recirculation pumps.

Decreased void.

All but six rods withdrawn.

Emergency protection signals obstructed by operators.

Feedwater flow to steam drums increased.

Control room displays excess reactivity.

This required immediate shutdown, however, warning was ignored and ...view middle of the document...

I think we have learned that we must have backup for defense against potential accidents. I think in the long term it has made us realize that we cannot relax the care and vigilance when we operate nuclear power plants and that we always need to take precautions to prevent accidents and mistakes.

Three Mile Island

Timeline of Events

The accident began on March 28, 1979, when a failure in the turbine building led to a reactor shutdown.

Pressure started to increase.

To prevent the buildup of too much pressure, a relief valve opened.

The valve was supposed to close once pressure decreased, but it did not.

Signals did not show the valve was still open.

for that reason, cooling water flowed out of the valve causing the reactor core to overheat.

As coolant poured from the core through the pressurizer, the instruments displayed confusing information.

Since there was no obvious sign that the relief valve was open, operators did not register that the plant was experiencing a loss-of-coolant accident.

Operators made conditions worse by reducing the flow of coolant through the core.

The fuel overheated and around 50% of the core melted before operators succeeded in returning the coolant to the core.

In the couple days ensuing the accident, around 140,000 people evacuated the area fearing the possibilities of radiation.

The disaster ended on April 1, four days later, when plant operators decreased the size of a hydrogen bubble that had built up in the reactor.

Summary of what happened:

Failure of the water pumps permitted the pressure build up inside the reactor core;as a result, a relief valve automatically opened. However it failed to reclose, letting cooling water escape the reactor. Operators were not receiving any signals indicating the valve was still open. The fuel rods in the reactor had a partial meltdown. Luckily, the radioactive material never escaped its container. I think the disaster could have been prevented because the accident was mostly a result of poor operator training and instrument design. Improvements in these areas would have allowed the operator to properly fix problems before they damaged the nuclear core. This accident did start some long term changes in nuclear operations. For example the training conducted for personnel who work at nuclear operations was significantly expanded, including establishing the National Nuclear Academy. Simulators were even purchased for training people who work in the control room. Equipment changes encompassed using new monitoring instruments capable of withstanding severe accidents and hydrogen recombiners.


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