1.

0 BACKGROUND

The Three Mile Island nuclear power plant is located on the Susquehanna River in
Pennsylvania, USA, 16 km from the state capital, Harrisburg, a city of 90000. It has
two 900 MW (e) units with pressurised water reactors designed by Babcock and
Wilcox. The second unit of the site started commercial operation on December 30,
1978. The Babcock and Wilcox 900 PWR design uses 2 steam generators of the
once-through type. These steam generators are long about 28 meters which induces
a specific layout whereby the bottom of the steam generators is lower than
the core inlets .Then the transition to natural convection cooling on the primary side
can be difficult in some conditions. Furthermore, they only contain a small amount of
secondary cooling water which making the installation rather sensitive during certain
kinds of transient. The energy sources in the world at the time had shared of 70% oil,
20% coal and a little less than 10% hydroelectric as well as oil by far supplied most
of the electricity to the world. At the time, OPEC turned its oil pricing policy and the
infrastructure of oil supply was vulnerable. Nuclear power then was the star alternate
energy source. Commercial nuclear power generation involves containing and
controlling the fission reactions so that the heat can be used to make steam which in
turn drives a turbine and generates electricity. Basically the heat source which is oil
or coal for thermal power stations was replaced with fission.

Early morning on March 28, 1979 the Three Mile Island plant which used pressurized
water reactors experienced a failure in the secondary, non-nuclear section of the
plant (NRC). Due to a mechanical or electrical failure, the central feed water pumps
terminated and prevented the steam generators from removing heat (NRC). As a
consequence the turbine and reactor shut down and this caused an increase in
pressure within the system. When pressure increases in the primary system a
monitored pilot-operated relief valve opens until pressure reaches an acceptable
level then shuts. In the case of the Three Mile Island accident the pilot-operated
relief valve never closed and no signal was given to the operator. Consequently, the
open valve poured out cooling water to assist in the lowering of pressure and caused
the core of the reactor to overheat (NRC). The indicators which were designed to let
the operator know when malfunctions were occurring provided conflicting
information. There was no indicator displaying the level of coolant in the core nor
was there a signal that the relief valve was open therefore the operators assumed
the core was properly covered. Alarms went off in the plant due to the loss of coolant
but the operators were confused on what was wrong thereby making the situation
worse. The overheating caused a rupture in the zirconium cladding and melting of
the fuel pellets. Thankfully, the worst case consequences of a dangerous meltdown
such as a breach of the walls the containment building or releases of large amounts
of radiation did not happen.

0 THE FACTS AND DEVELOPING POTENTIAL CAUSES OF THE ACCIDENT The first event of this scenario is the failure of the normal steam generators feed water system due to an human error during a minor maintenance activity.. maintenance. Design deficiencies  The loss of normal feed water which is an anticipated operating occurrence leads to the opening of the pressurizer relief valve which is another anticipated operating occurrence  A break in the steam phase of the pressurizer is not considered. There is no procedure to identify and manage this event and the operating staff is not trained for it  The actuation of the emergency core cooling system does not actuate a complete containment building isolation.. 2. insufficient pressure and temperature indicators range  Existing emergency operating procedures difficult to use. no alarm only at nominal power leading to a lot of alarms in any shutdown condition and without any possibility to identify the initiating difficulties. )  The pressurizer relief valve had been known to be leaking for a while but the repair work was postponed so increasing the probability of a jammed open valve and depriving the operators of a way to identify the valve situation: the temperature of the pressurizer relief line  The closed connecting valves of the steam generators auxiliary feed water system added a complete loss of feed water system to the . . Multiple latent deficiencies (organization. in particular indications of order instead of position without specific warning. quality.  The emergency core cooling system was stopped by the operators. Man-machine interfaces  Global control board weakness with. This demonstrates the absolute need to reduce the occurrence of any type of abnormal event but the direct causes of the core meltdown are to be searched a step forward and then two direct causes appear:  The pressurizer relief valve stuck open.

and moreover. The instruments in the control room did not have consistent LED color - some LEDs were green and some were red under abnormal conditions. The malfunctioned pressurizer relief valve had repeated troubles earlier and was unreliable. The operators mistakenly judged that the pressurizer water level was rising under these situations. c. The operators of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant were not employees of the utilities firm.0 CAUSES OF THE EXCIDENT 1) Inadequate failure information system a. The control panel had more than 1. The water level indicator did not show the actual amount of water in the pressurizer. 2) Lack of reliability assurance a. . and the operators did not know that the relief valve was stuck open. complete loss of emergency core cooling system and focused the attention of the operating team  An effluent tank was leaking  The iodine filters in the auxiliary building had poor efficiency 3. d. b. The LED instruments were not designed to warn malfunctions. Despite of the obvious issue. Note that the pressurizer water level rises with high-pressure injection pumps pushing replacement water into the reactor system and cooling water surging into the pressurizer while water and steam escape through the open relief valves.200 LEDs and over 100 alarms went off during the emergency. 3) Inadequate training of operators a. The instruments only showed that a CLOSE signal was sent to the relief valve without indicating the valve's actual position. the plant instructed the operators to "fool" the system without replacing the valves with reliable ones. f. Problems with the failure information system in the control room caused inadequate emergency response by the operators. a green LED was lit when the valve was closed. Operators generally try to prevent filling up the pressurizer because them they will then not be able to control pressure in the pressurizer filled with water. Gas generation from the heated reactor core also lifts the pressurizer water level as well. A warning sign blocked the view of a LED indicating that the auxiliary feedwater valve was closed. e.

4. the contract operators lacked proper knowledge about nuclear reactors and thermal phenomena.b. Infrastructure  Unit 2 reactor was ruptured and caused an explosion.0 EFFECT OF THE ACCIDENT Health effects and Radiation  The TMI 2 accident caused no injuries. The court said the plaintiffs had failed to present evidence they had received a radiation dose large enough to cause possible health effects.  Damage to the cooling and heating system that will cost a lot of money to fix it. They had hardly been trained for accident situation. demonstrating the effectiveness of the industry’s liability insurance protection under the Price-Anderson Act. People who suffered financial losses as a result of the precautionary evacuation following the incident were promptly paid.  The approximately 2 million people around TMI-2 during the accident are estimated to have received an average radiation dose of only about 1 millirem above the usual background dose.  Federal and state authorities were initially concerned about the small releases of radioactive gases that were measured off-site by the late morning of March 28 and even more concerned about the potential threat that the reactor posed to the surrounding population. The utilities firm had contracted out the plant operations.  A federal appeals court in December 2003 dismissed the consolidated cases of 2. REFERENCE . and at least a dozen epidemiological studies conducted since 1981 have found no discernible direct health effects to the population in the vicinity of the plan.  Decades of research and scientific studies have shown no negative health effects on the population surrounding the plant.000 plaintiffs seeking dam-ages against the plant’s former owners for health problems they alleged the accident caused. however.

(2004). Nrc.41-6497 .Nuclear Energy Institute. (2017).gov.5860/choice. from https://www.org/10. Choice Reviews Online.[1] Lessons From the 1979 Accident at Three Mile Island . 41(11).nei. from https://www. Nei.nrc. Retrieved 18 May 2017. http://dx.html [3] TMI 25 years later: the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant accident and its impact. (2017).org/Master-Document- Folder/Backgrounders/Fact-Sheets/The-TMI-2-Accident-Its-Impact-Its-Lessons [2] NRC: Backgrounder on the Three Mile Island Accident. 41-6497-41-6497.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/fact-sheets/3mile- isle.doi.org. Retrieved 18 May 2017.