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Three Mile Island
Steam blows from the plant's cooling towers during the first 24 hours of the accident. (Corbis photo)
What Happened
Crisis at Three Mile Island

The Washington Post published the following special report in the immediate aftermath of the March 1979 nuclear accident at Three Mile Island. Subsequent investigations and studies answered some of the questions raised in these articles. Other questions remain unanswered 20 years later (see our page on the aftermath of the accident).

Chapter 1: A Pump Failure and Claxon Alert

Chapter 2: How the Crisis Was Managed

Chapter 3: A Swift Rethinking of the 'Unthinkable'

Chapter 4: The Tough Fight to Confine the Damage

Chapter 5: A Disturbing Signal of Vented Radiation

Chapter 6: Danger of Day Three – Nuclear Shower if the Core Melts

Chapter 7: A Watchful Eye on the Black Ink

Chapter 8: An Open Conflict Over Authority

Chapter 9: The Media Corps' All Out Invasion

Chapter 10: A Presidential Tour to Calm Fears

Chapter 11: Weighing Options on the Gas Bubble

Chapter 12: Swiftly Gearing Up for Evacuation

Chapter 13: Hoping the Bubble Will Slip Away

Chapter 14: Inhabitants Wonder What to Believe

Appendix I: April 1979 Poll – Despite Fears, D.C. Area Residents Resigned to A-Power

Appendix II: Transcripts from NRC Meetings – "Too Little Information Too Late"

Appendix III: The Newest Human Guinea Pigs

The articles here were produced by a Washington Post writing and editing team composed of Laurence Stern, Daniel J. Balz, Milton R. Benjamin, Paul Brinkley-Rogers, Warren Brown, Victor Cohn, Hugh Craig, Jane Freundel, Joel R. Garreau, Peter A. Masley, Robin Mezsoly, Peter Milius, Thomas O'Toole, Bill Peterson, Walter Pincus, Wendy C. Ross, Martin Schram, Ward Sinclair, J.P. Smith, T.R. Reid, Bill Richards and Edward Walsh. Washington Post poll by Barry Sussman. The original special report was designed by Robin Jareaux; layout by Susan Clipper. Production work by Bill Hensel. Some typographical errors in the original report were corrected for the online edition.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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