China Syndrome

meltdown

The China Syndrome is a term coined by an American physicist in 1971 to describe the result of a severe nuclear meltdown in which molten reactor core components penetrate their containment vessel and building. The term is misleading, since molten material from such an event could not melt through the crust of the Earth and reach China.

Nuclear power plants ordered during the late 1960s raised safety questions and created fears that a severe reactor accident could release large quantities of radioactive material into the environment. In the early 1970s, a controversy arose regarding the ability of emergency cooling systems to prevent a core meltdown, which might lead to the so-called China Syndrome.

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