How Everything Works
How Everything Works How Everything Works

Question 462

You said that in the Three Mile Island Incident, it overheated due to the lack of cold water. How did that happen? Isn't that a huge oversight?
The loss of cooling water was unexpected and was caused by a pump failure. The broken pump was actually part of the power-generating loop, not the reactor core-cooling loop. When everything was working properly, water flowing through a loop that included the reactor core transferred heat to water flowing through the generating plant loop. But when the generating plant loop shut down, the reactor core loop had nowhere to deposit its heat and the water in it boiled. Backup cooling water evidently did not exist, did not work, or was not sufficient to keep the reactor core from over heating. I don't know whether it was poor design or poor maintenance that caused this disaster.

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