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In Star Trek: Generations, it was this very thing that destroyed the stardrive section of the Enterprise-D. As soon as LaForge recognized that a coolant leak had occurred, he evacuated Engineering immediately and reported to the bridge that a warp core overload was inevitable and irreparable. Yet in the very next film, Star Trek: First Contact, Picard suggests (and Data supports) causing a massive coolant leak in order to eradicate the Borg infestation there.

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up vote 13 down vote accepted

Two reasons come to mind:

  • In Star Trek: Generations, the engines were hot because of the just completed Battle of Veridian III. In Star Trek: First Contact, the Enterprise had been quietly orbiting Earth for some time. Cold engines are presumably in less need of coolant.

  • The Enterprise-E was an upgraded ship compared to the Enterprise-D; it is not unlikely that some of the changes were intended to mitigate the warp core breach problem that had destroyed the Enterprise-D. In fact, we can see that the Enterprise-E has two plasma coolant tanks in main engineering. Only one was damaged; perhaps that redundancy prevented any core breach.

It is reassuring that my thoughts are echoed by the article on plasma coolant in the Memory Alpha wiki.

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