PG | | Drama, Thriller
A reporter finds what appears to be a cover-up of safety hazards at a nuclear power plant.
Producer Michael Douglas spent the better part of a year having the film's screenplay properly developed with the film's three writers.
It looks serious. In the control room, these lights are concerned with core water level. They might have come close to exposing the core. If that's true, we came very close to the China Syndrome.
Kimberly Wells: The what?
Dr. Lowell: If the core is exposed, the fuel heats up ...
In the United States, there are two main types of commercial power reactors: PWR (Pressurized Water Reactor) and BWR (Boiling Water Reactor). In the scene where Gibson is explaining the basic workings of the plant to Kimberly Wells, the diagram on the board shows the former type, PWR. This is shown by the two loop system in which the water is pumped through the reactor under high pressure to prevent boiling, and then through a steam generator, or boiler, to create steam for the turbine using clean secondary water. In subsequent scenes, the dialog of the characters in the control room seems to suggest that they are dealing with a BWR system, where water is allowed to boil in the reactor vessel and steam is directly piped to the turbine, with no steam generator. Godell is concerned by the high water level in the reactor reaching the steam lines, of which there are none on a PWR reactor vessel. Once Goddell and the operators realize the water level is low, character dialogue references Auxilary Feedwater which is a PWR system. As well, in the action hearing later, the investigator talks about how the operators began cutting off feedwater and releasing steam in order to lower the reactor water level, which would only happen on a BWR.
The end credits run in total silence.