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The American Experience
Timeline of Nuclear Technology (1961 - 1981)
January -- The SL-1 reactor, located at Idaho Falls, goes out of control causing a rupture of the building. The damaged core was reported to have emitted radiation at a rate of more than 500 rems per hour.
December -- The Jersey Central Power and Light Company announces its plans to construct a nuclear power plant at Oyster Creek as an economic alternative to a fossil-fuel plant. The company contended that its research indicated that nuclear power would generate energy less expensively than fossil fuels.
December -- The Atomic Energy Commission issues Jersey Central Power and Light Company a construction permit to begin building the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant.
November -- A major electrical power outage in the northeastern U.S. prompts proponents of nuclear power to push it as a necessary alternative energy source.
October -- The Enrico Fermi experimental breeder near Detroit, Michigan is the site of what is considered an "uncomfortably close call," as its core partially melts. Although a runaway reaction was prevented, the reactor was permanently disabled.
October -- The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) votes to cut oil exports by five percent until Israel agrees to withdraw from all Arab territories it occupied during the Yom Kippur War. Failing to achieve that result, Saudi Arabia decided days later to cut oil production by 25 percent and joined with other oil-producing nations in an embargo of oil shipments to the United States. An "Energy Crisis" gripped the U.S. resulting in price gouging, gas lines and rationing.
October -- President Gerald Ford abolishes The Atomic Energy Commission and replaces it with two new agencies: the Energy Research and Development Administration and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The two new bodies were charged with the task of regulating the nuclear industry.
April -- President Jimmy Carter announces a policy banning the reprocessing of used nuclear fuel.
September -- Dedication ceremonies for Three Mile Island Unit 2 are held in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Deputy Secretary of Energy for the Carter Administration, John F. Oš Leary called the plant a "scintillating success," and added that "it is fair to conclude...that nuclear power is a bright and shining option for this country."
March -- Equipment failures and human error contribute to an accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear reactor at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. A series of events led to the worst nuclear accident in U.S. history.

October -- Reacting to public and political outrage over events at Three Mile Island, the U.S. nuclear energy industry creates the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations to address issues of safety and performance
October -- Reversing a decision made by President Carter in 1977, President Ronald Reagan's administration decides to lift the ban on reprocessing used nuclear fuel. The Reagan administration went on to introduce a policy calling for the need for a high-level radioactive waste storage facility.

1942 -- 1959 | 1961 -- 1981 |1983 -- 1998