Early yesterday morning 40 years ago, America experienced its first major accident at a nuclear power plant—Three Mile Island in central Pennsylvania. Many Americans by then had already seen Jane Fonda’s “The China Syndrome,” a nuclear disaster film that debuted three weeks earlier. Time magazine would memorialize the Three Mile Island disaster with a cover article, “Nuclear Nightmare,” which went on to detail “the worst accident in the history of U.S. nuclear power production.” If that’s our worst nuclear accident, March 28 should be a day of celebration. No one died in the accident. There were no radiological health issues to the public. None of the milk used for Hershey’s chocolate bars or anything else was contaminated. The event actually demonstrated that the U.S. nuclear industry could control an accident safely, and it revealed areas where improvements were needed. Forty years later, a nuclear reactor still remains at Three Mile Island, generating enough power to supply 800,000 homes and employ hundreds of people. But it’s scheduled for closure later this year—not because of technical failures salacious enough for “China Syndrome the Sequel,” but because it can’t compete economically in today’s energy market. The reason Three Mile Island is seared into the American imagination has a lot more to do with political and journalistic failure than the technological failures that occurred on March 28, 1979.
CNS 29th March 2019 read more »
Forty years ago, the United States and the world became aware of the serious nuclear danger threatening them; not in the military arsenal of the two blocks of the Cold War, but close to home. Seven years before Chernobyl, 30 years before Fukushima, the accident at the US nuclear power plant at Three Mile Island go deeply public, without killing anyone. This accident, due to defects in design, operation and human error, was ranked at Level 5 of the Ines international nuclear accident scale, while Chernobyl and Fukushima reached the maximum level of 7. It occurred while the film “The Chinese Syndrome” describing a serious nuclear danger in a Californian power station was just released. The coincidence struck the spirits and gave him more echo.
Paris Match 29th March 2019 read more »