"In the debates about the prospects for a U.S. nuclear power rebirth, there was one thing advocates, foes and regulators seemed to agree on: The industry could not afford another Three Mile Island accident.
Now, in the midst of Japan’s worst human and economic catastrophe since World War II, emergency crews have been battling to prevent core meltdown at three crippled nuclear reactors whose primary and backup core cooling systems were left without power by last week’s huge tsunami. Units 1 and 3 at Electric Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant suffered a partial core meltdown and hydrogen explosions that blasted the roofs off the outer containment structures but apparently spared the essential primary containment around the reactors, authorities said.
The ongoing crisis at the reactor site on Japan's northeast coast was triggered by the worst earthquake ever recorded in Japan and the resulting tsunami, not the mechanical failures and operator errors that caused the partial core meltdown at the TMI reactor near Harrisburg, Pa., in 1979.
But that distinction may not make a difference politically for the U.S. nuclear industry, at least for the foreseeable future."