Before there was Chernobyl, there was Three Mile Island, and for several tense days in March, 1979, the U.S. and the world watched in fear that the partial meltdown of one of Three Mile Island's reactors could cause what Chernobyl's did seven years later.
Today, Three Mile Island seems like an anti-climax. Both reactors are shut down, and the whole complex is being decommissioned. Approaching the area on local roads, the iconic cooling towers seem misplaced behind a landscape of farmhouses and barns.
The damaged reactor was never restarted; it would have taken too long and cost too much. The remaining reactor was shut down in late 2019; its time had passed. But while events of 1979 have left little mark on the scene, they have had a profound impact on the design and operation of nuclear plants since then.