The Three Mile Island Accident in 1979 was the most severe nuclear meltdown accident in the history of peacefully utilizing and commercializing nuclear power in the United States. The accident not only had created enormous economic losses, led residents in the surround areas to evacuate in panic, and caused concerns over the safety of nuclear power plant in the industry, academia and general public, but it also had pushed the anti-nuclear movements to their peak and promoted changes in the government policies regarding nuclear power development, which had deeply impacted the utilization of nuclear power. The accident therefore became a turning point in the American nuclear power history.
The article contains three major parts. Part one first gives a brief review of the accident itself including the general situation of the plant, the cause and development of the accident, its direct impact, and the post-accident measures of rectification, restoration and the current status of the plant. Then it moves on to the historical background introducing the domestic development of nuclear power in the United States, which includes the accomplishments of the industry prior to the accident, existing and potential problems, and the initial development of public support and opposition.
Part two focuses on the progress of how the accident had revealed its power in affecting the society from the bottom to top. It reflects the action and interaction of the three interrelated groups namely the anti-nuclear group, the group that supported nuclear power and the academia.
Part three attends to the perspectives of all levels of the American governments, their policies, and the transformation as a result of the forces aforementioned, which affected the American nuclear power development in the long term. In the end, it tries to evaluate the prospects of the nuclear power.
Finally the conclusion summarizes the accident and the general impact and meaning of its aftermath.