Reactor at Three Mile Island nuclear power plant shuts down

Friday, November 3, 2006

Three Mile Island in 1979.

A reading taken from a "faulty" instrument panel on the Unit 1 reactor at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant located near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania has caused the reactor to shut down, but officials say that there is no threat to the public as radiation has not been released into the air. A wrong reading was displayed on a control panel which triggered the reactor to automatically shut itself down.

"It appears this was an uncomplicated, smooth shutdown. The company will need to take a careful and deliberate look at what went wrong," said Nuclear Regularitory Commission spokesman, Neil Sheehan.

A worker at the power plant was injured while the reactor was shutting down, after being scared by steam venting from the reactor, which caused him to fall.

The reactor, which first went operational in 1974, shutdown on Thursday afternoon on the "non-nuclear side of the reactor" at 1:35 p.m. [EST] and as of the moment remains offline, added Sheehan. This is the first time since 1997 that the reactor has shutdown.

In 1979, the Unit 2 reactor suffered a partial meltdown and has remained offline since the disaster.