A nuclear meltdown is the result of a nuclear power plant being on fire too long, it being old, or just under unfortunate circumstances. Nuclear Meltdowns can result in the destruction of the power plant, destruction of nearby buildings and flooding of the surrounding land in radiation.


In SimCity, nuclear meltdowns can occur, but the radiation symbols are replaced with atoms.

SimCity 2000

In SimCity 2000, the nuclear power plant will explode, ignite building and the city will be bathed in radiation.

The fire spreads very quickly and is very difficult to extinguish. It can take around ten to twenty thousands of years before the radioactivity dies down, and about several hundred-thousand years to wear off completely.

Radioactive tiles produce a lot of pollution, and most of the radiation appears near where the nuclear plant was before the meltdown. Radioactive tiles are empty unusable areas.

SimCity 3000

In SimCity 3000 and its upgrade nuclear meltdowns can occur, although they are nowhere near as dramatic as its advanced successor.

In SimCity 3000, the Nuclear plant lasts twenty years before collapsing. Only after said twenty years (or if it is overused or on fire) will the plant undergo a meltdown.

During a nuclear meltdown in SimCity 3000, an explosion can be heard near the Nuclear power plant and a generic "destroyed building" symbol is displayed above the plant.

Any buildings near the meltdown will turn to rubble and buildings farther away will be covered in radiation and have International Radioactive Warning insignias on them. If one zooms to the "street-level" view, the sound of a Geiger counter clicking can be heard.

SimCity 4


A nuclear power plant exploding during a meltdown.


The resulting crater.

In SimCity 4, when a nuclear meltdown occurs, the nuclear power plant will explode in a massive mushroom cloud, destroying any surrounding buildings and leaving a large crater and radiation where the power plant once was located.

The explosion is about five times more powerful than the explosions of other power plants. After the meltdown, much of the surrounding area will be flooded by radiation, which can be seen as small green spots glowing in random places. Buildings covered in radiation will be abandoned, and the surrounding area will not be able to support new development. A massive crater will also be seen, this crater will be glowing orange for a while until it cools down.

The effects on buildings surrounding the power plant are as follows:

  • All buildings within the blast zone will be obliterated. The area that remains will be covered in radiation.
  • Most buildings just outside of the blast zone will be set on fire. Radiation covers all buildings.
  • All buildings near the rim of the blast zone will survive, but will be coated in radiation.

Depending on the elevation, a meltdown that occurs on land that is close to sea level will create a small lake that's radiated. Also on most to some occasions, if the fire on the nuclear power plant stays, the fire will just destroy the building to rubble, meaning no nuclear explosion.


A nuclear meltdown can occur in SimCopter. Firing rockets at buildings with the Apache helicopter cause the buildings to catch on fire, resulting in loss of several points and cash.

If the fires are not put out, the building gets destroyed, resulting in more point and cash loss. However, if a city with a Nuclear Power Plant is loaded, and fire a rocket at it, eventually it will explode, destroying almost the entire city. The player will lose all of the points and cash, several MEDVAC missions will begin, cars will be crashed, and the helicopter is destroyed. Before this happens, the screen will start to shake, glow white, and the sound of an explosion goes off. Entering the cheat "Radioactivity" does this as well, as long as the city has a nuclear power plant.

SimCity (2013)

In SimCity (2013), a nuclear meltdown can occur when the nuclear power plant is staffed with unskilled workers, causing radiation to leak. However only a reactor module is destroyed.  If the player listens very closely around the nuclear power plant that caused the meltdown, a Geiger Counter clicking can be heard in a similar fashion to SimCity 3000.

A nuclear meltdown is perhaps the most challenging disaster that can happen.  It may happen without warning to a city with no college or university.


  • After a meltdown the city loses all power from the affected reactor and radiation contaminates the land, then the ground water. 
  • Radiation is shown on the Radiation Data Map as four zones and is worst in the zone closest to the plant.  
  • Radiation is permanent and does not lessen over time. 
  • People living in the radiation zone nearest the plant will move out and new buildings will not develop, this may reduce city population severely. 
  • People living in homes or going into other buildings in the radiation zones further out frequently become sick, this may severely overload clinics and hospitals. 
  • Ground pollution from the plant quickly spreads throughout the radiation zones, water sourced from these areas makes people sick. 
  • As industrial and commercial buildings in affected zones close down unemployment and crime may rise sharply.
  • As income falls the city may begin to run at a huge deficit.

Players can make the city profitable again through careful planning to address the problems:

  1. Do not place any new buildings in the radiation zone if at all possible, see Radiation Data Map.
  2. Close all nuclear power plants.  If necessary build a new power plant (not nuclear) to replace the destroyed reactor.  The city is not going to need a lot of power because the population will quickly decline.
  3. To reduce sickness demolish and unzone all residential, commercial and industrial buildings in all the radiation zones even the lightly contaminated one, also remove all other buildings, parks etc except mines. 
  4. To reduce sickness further make sure to relocate water towers and pumping stations outside the radiation zone.
  5. As the population falls reduce costs by removing unneeded expansion modules from schools and other public buildings. 
  6. For more income expand the city outside the radiation zones as much as possible.

See also