40 years ago: Three Mile Island nuclear accident

It happens this coming Thursday ... the 40th anniversary of the worst nuclear power plant accident in U.S. history.

A series of mishaps had created an emergency at one of the two reactors at the Three Mile Island plant near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania – a partial meltdown, causing the release of a small amount of radiation into the atmosphere.

Public health officials later declared the radiation leak inconsequential, but the damage to public confidence in nuclear power had been done.

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A view of the Three Mile Island nuclear plant on March 28, 1979. The Governor of Pennsylvania ordered the evacuation of the site following an accident. AFP/AFP/Getty Images

The damaged reactor was shut down for good, and tighter regulations were imposed on the entire industry. The construction of new plants stalled across the land.

Now, four decades later, a punctuation mark: Three Mile Island's current owner says it will be shutting down the plant's only other reactor by the end of the year.

       
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Story produced by Charis Satchell.