Three Mile Island Cooling Towers, Middletown, PA, March 28, 1979.
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A color photograph of Three Mile Island Cooling Towers.

Credit: Image donated by Corbis-Bettmann

At its dedication ceremony in September, 1978, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy John O'Leary called Pennsylvania's new nuclear reactor at Three Mile Island a "scintillating success," and declared that "nuclear power is a bright and shining option for this country." Less than seven months later, more than 80,000 residents fled after a partial nuclear core meltdown of the TMI's Unit 2 reactor shut down the plant and alarmed the nation. The accident produced a dramatic shift in national nuclear policy, a temporary moratorium on the licensing of new reactors, and the canceling or more than 120 reactor orders.

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