Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Montage of images and link description. Meltdown at Three Mile Island Imagemap: linked to kids and home
The Film and More
Imagemap(text links below) of menu items
The American Experience
Timeline of Nuclear Technology (1983 - 1998)
January -- The Nuclear Waste Policy Act is signed into law by President Ronald Reagan. The act established a timetable for designating permanent underground facilities for the storage of nuclear waste.

April -- The Atomic Industrial Forum, a pro-nuclear power group, publishes a statement that the 1979 accident at Three Mile Island did not fundamentally change its otherwise unblemished safety record. In its bulletin, the AIF contended that, "No member of the public has been injured or killed from a reactor accident at a commercial nuclear power plant. ...No plant employee ever has exhibited clinical evidence of serious injury from radiation. ...The nation's most serious commercial nuclear plant accident...did not alter this unparalleled record of safety."

October -- Congress votes to kill funding for the Clinch River Breeder Reactor project in Tennessee.
ay -- A report made by Oak Ridge Associated Universities and the University of North Carolina links incidents of cancer in workers at the Savannah River nuclear power plant, located near Aiken, South Carolina to exposure to radiation.
April -- Runaway reactions during a test at the Chernobyl nuclear reactor near Kiev, located in the what was then the Soviet Union, causes a series of explosions that rupture the containment structure and send massive amounts of radiation through the Northern Hemisphere. Soviet troops were dispatched to help fight the fire and contain the reactions in the melted core. The incident at Chernobyl was the worst nuclear accident in history and resulted in over 75 million people being exposed to dangerously high levels of radiation.

August -- Soviet medical experts predict an increase of nearly 30,000 cancer-related deaths over a 50 year period due to fall-out from the accident at Chernobyl.
May -- New York State, led by Governor Mario Cuomo and the Long Island Lighting Company (LILCO) reach an agreement to close and dismantle the Shoreham nuclear power plant. The $5.3 billion loss was absorbed by the utility's investors, electricity customers on Long Island, and federal taxpayers.
August -- Uniform nuclear plant designs are submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for certification and approval. The designs were drawn up in the hopes of establishing a single standard for nuclear power plant construction in the U.S.

October -- President George Bush signs into law the Energy Policy Act, setting the U.S. on course for planning its energy needs. The act also reformed the licensing process for advanced, standardized nuclear power plants. The updated process was designed to afford the public more timely opportunities to participate in decisions concerning the construction of nuclear power plants. It was also drawn up to provide investors with a more stable financial environment.
April -- The Comanche Peak Unit 2 nuclear power plant in Glen Rose, Texas, goes on-line. The plant went on to provide 1,150 megawatts of electricity to consumers.
January -- The United States purchases uranium from the Russian Federation, planning to blend it down into power plant fuel. The U.S. made the purchase to keep the uranium from being used for missile warheads.

July -- The Nuclear Regulatory Commission issues its final design approval of the first two of four advanced nuclear power plant designs for General Electric's Advanced Boiling Water Reactor and ABB Combustion Engineering's System 80+. The two plants were the first to obtain final design approval under the NRC's regulations for licensing standardized plant designs.
February -- The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is granted a full-power license by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for its Watts Bar 1 nuclear power plant. The licensing brought the number of operating nuclear units in the U.S. to 110.

June -- District Court Judge Sylvia Rambo dismisses a class action lawsuit filed against the Metropolitan Edison Company, on behalf of individuals and businesses said to have been exposed to and injured by gamma radiation exposure during the 1979 Three Mile Island accident. The judge cited a "scarcity of evidence" in dismissing the case.
January -- President Bill Clinton announces that China has issued support of international nuclear proliferation efforts. The announcement paved the way for the sale of U.S. nuclear technology to China, a move protested by many members of Congress.

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