On March 28, 1979, a mechanical failure at Three Mile Island nuclear power plant caused the release of radioactive steam into the air. The power station is located on an island in the Susquehanna River about ten miles down river from Harrisburg.

Read the first and second day articles from the pages of the Scranton Times.

Wednesday, March 28, 1979


Thursday, March 29, 1979

The Nuclear Regulator Commission has a summary of the accident – https://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/fact-sheets/3mile-isle.html 

In Pop Culture –

Twelve day before the accident at Three Mile Island, the film “The China Syndrome” premiered on March 16, 1979. The film, starring Jane Fonda, Jack Lemmon and Michael Douglas, deals with a nuclear meltdown at a fictional California nuclear reactor.

Advertisement for ‘The China Syndrome’ from the March 30, 1979 edition of the Scranton Times. Times-Tribune Archives

A few days after the accident, Saturday Night Live, did a sketch based on the accident and the film “The China Syndrome”. The sketch was called “The Pepsi Syndrome.” They changed the name of the reactor to “Two Mile Island.”  You can read a transcript of the sketch here – http://snltranscripts.jt.org/78/78ppepsi.phtml.

In the 2009 film X-Men Origins: Wolverine,  Three Mile Island was the site of secret government facility were mutants were experimented on for the Weapon X program.  In the climax of the film, Wolverine played by Hugh Jackman, fights Weapon XI, played by Ryan Reynolds, on top of one of the cooling towers of Three Mile Island. The battle leads to the destruction of the cooling tower.  Check out the scene in the trailer at 2:07.