Answer to Question #194919 in Electrical Engineering for haseeb

Question #194919

ethical issues involved in the Three Mile Island incident

Expert's answer

A cooling failure in the #2 reactor at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in the United States in 1979 caused part of the core to melt. The TMI-2 reactor had to be decommissioned. A small amount of radioactive gas was emitted a few days after the explosion, but not enough to trigger any doses of local people above background levels.

"Either a mechanical or electrical failure caused the main feedwater pumps to stop working, preventing the steam generators from extracting heat." The issues didn't begin with the feedwater pumps; instead, they started with the condensate polisher machine. The NRC recorded it in 1979 but said they don't need to know what caused the condensate polisher valves to malfunction. To this day, no one knew that the wreck occurred.

"The operator's signals failed to indicate that the valve was still open... There was also no specific indication that the pilot-operated relief valve was open." Operators had learned to ignore the most visible indication that the POV had stuck open and that coolant was being lost through this pathway because TMI had been falsifying reactor leak rates to the NRC in the weeks leading up to the crash. Coolant was fleeing, as shown by the high temperature reading at the POV drain line. However, because of the criminal falsification that caused this situation to occur for many weeks, operators had become accustomed to this anomaly.

It's also worth noting that NRC investigators at TMI failed to notice or find the reactor coolant leak in the weeks leading up to the crash. The corporation later entered a "no contest" plea to federal charges of intentional falsifications. Harold W. Hartman, Jr., a retired control room technician, inform NRC investigators on May 22, 1979, that Metropolitan Edison-General Public Utilities had been falsifying primary-coolant leak rate data for months previous to the crash. The procedure was known to at least two representatives of management. The NRC prosecutors do not follow up on the accusations or report them to the tribunal. On February 29, 1984, the Department of Justice and Met Ed reached an agreement to resolve the Unit 2 levies.

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