Did Detroit Almost Have A Chernobyl Type Nuclear Event?
Fermi 1 was the United States' only demonstration-scale breeder reactor that was built during the 1950s at the Enrico Fermi Nuclear Generating Station on the western shore of Lake Erie just south of Detroit, Michigan. But it 1966 it suffered a partial meltdown, which could have been disastrous for the city and the state. The event was so impactful that it even inspired a book written by John Fuller, and a song written by Gil Scott Heron called, "We Almost Lost Detroit." To understand how terrible it could have been we have to look at what happened and why it happened:
While slowly increasing its power rating over the next two years, on 5 October 1966 [Fermi 1] suffered a partial meltdown when the flow of sodium was disrupted by blockage of the inlet holes at the bottom of the reactor. The problem was seen early enough to safely SCRAM the reactor and there was no radioactive release outside the containment building. The site was shut down for repairs and restarted in July 1970. It ran for only a short period before closing again on 27 November 1972, and was officially decommissioned on 31 December 1975.
The phrase "We almost lost Detroit" was made by an anonymous worker from inside Fermi 1, but Detroit Edison had claimed at the time that the accident was actually very minor and there were no threats of anything happening on the scale of Chernobyl. Many at Edison feel the event was blown out of proportion and that we came nowhere near close to "losing Detroit," yet many people take it as a sign that maybe we should stay away from nuclear energy.
Think of all the people, places, events, culture and history that would have never happened if it had been a disaster thought. It makes you feel lucky to have what we have.