The China Syndrome

Corrected entry: The title of this movie is itself inaccurate, a misnomer. A "syndrome" is a collection of symptoms related to a medical or psychological condition.

Correction: That's not a film mistake. 'The China Syndrome' is a slang term in use for years before the film was made.

Corrected entry: A room full of trained nuclear operators would never rely only on a stuck recorder pen to see reactor water level. The control board has several other reactor level indicators, and they're much more accurate.


Correction: Three Mile Island nearly melted down because the Pilot Operated Relief Valve stuck open. The gauge indicating the position of the PORV indicated the valve was closed, when it was actually open. The Davis-Besse reactor in Ohio had a similar situation months earlier. The PORV ended sticking in the open position even though the gauge read closed. They began to treat the problem created by the stuck PORV as if it was something else. After 20 minutes, the operator realsied that the PORV had to be stuck open and remidied the situation. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission never put out any type of warning regarding the incident. The NRC said such an accident was a freak even and unlikely to ever happen again. Of course it did with TMI. Nearly 3 hours into the TMI crisis, they called in another engineer to work early. He decided that every piece of data, except the gauge indicator for the PORV, pointed to the fact that the PORV was stuck open. He manually shut and avoided the total meltdown. True life is scarier than the movies. Never assume what a room full of trained individuals should and shouldn't know.


Factual error: After the turbine trip, Godell says that the reactor water level was "almost up to the steam lines." The fictional Ventana nuclear plant is described as being a pressurized reactor plant and could not possibly have such a problem.

More mistakes in The China Syndrome

Jack Godell: I know the vibration was not normal.

More quotes from The China Syndrome

Trivia: The film was released on March 16, 1979. Coincidentally, the nuclear disaster at Three Mile Island occurred fewer than two weeks later.

Cubs Fan
More trivia for The China Syndrome

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