Three Mile Island: Nuclear Nightmare

Confusion and fear spew from a damaged reactor in Pennsylvania

George D. Lepp / Corbis

Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant

In the dead of night, the hulks of four 372-ft. cooling towers and two high domed nuclear reactor container buildings were scarcely discernible above the gentle waters of the Susquehanna River, eleven miles southeast of Harrisburg, Pa. Inside the brightly lit control room of Metropolitan Edison's Unit 2, technicians on the lobster shift one night last week faced a tranquil, even boring watch. Suddenly, at 4 a.m., alarm lights blinked red on their instrument panels. A siren whooped a warning. In the understated jargon of...