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Mike Gray on: The Near Melt-Down
Mike Gray Q: Did it occur to the operators that the core may be uncovered?

MG: On Wednesday, I don't think anybody in the control room believed that that could even happen. I mean they'd been taught in all of their training that this was something that just -- the plant would not allow this to happen to itself. And I don't think anybody in the control room believed that the core was uncovered. We now know that at, I believe, eight-thirty in the morning Wednesday, March the 29th, they were 30 minutes away from the "China Syndrome." Had the decision not been made to close the blocked valve and re-start emergency core cooling at that crucial instant, and had it been allowed to go for another 30 minutes, they would have had a core melt-down that would have made Chernobyl look like a picnic. If that had gone through the base of the plant, we would now no longer be able to drive through the City of Harrisburg. The Pennsylvania Turnpike would have to go north through Scranton. And you have to remember that within a hundred-mile radius of this plant you have Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, D.C. So this would not have been a pleasant experience for anyone concerned. And they discovered -- of course, it was years before they were able to actually open the lid on that thing and take a look, but when they did take a look, hah-hah, they were horrified because they could see that the entire core had slumped into the bottom of this vessel. It was just a jumble of loose material, some of which had already turned to liquid. So they were that close to a disaster of almost unimaginable proportions.

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