Thursday, December 6, 2007

Three Mile Island and The China Syndrome

There were two Three Mile Island accidents. The first was the real accident, in which nuclear safety safeguards prevented wide spread public exposure to radiation. In that accident, no one was killed, no one was injured, no one died or even got sick as the result of exposure to radiation. Safety features, common to all American power reactors, largely contained the radioactive materials released by the accident, inside the reactor building. Many observers noted that far from proving how dangerous reactors were, Three Mile Island proved how safe they were.

The second Three Mile Island accident was the result of public exposure to the Jane Fonda movie, The China Syndrome, released 12 days before the accident. The public imagination, inflamed by the movie, paniced at what it thought was happening. What the public imagined was some great horror, what happened was an expensive industrial accident, which carried no long term human human consequences. If anything Three Mile Island proved that nuclear power was safe. Critics of nuclear power, until this day utalize the mythical Three Mile Island event to stigmatize nuclear power. Paradoxically, Three Mile Island demonstrated that the so called "China Syndrome" was not possible. No one ever mentioned the China Sybdrome after Three Mile Island.

A recent story in the New York Times, The Jane Fonda Effect, discusses the effect of the movie, "The China Syndrome, on public perception of Nuclear power.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"If anything Three Mile Island proved that nuclear power was safe."

Yes, of course. Chernobyl cleary demonstrated how safe nuclear power is and how the China Syndrome is not possible.

Oh and let us not forget how "safe" Fukishima is as well.

It's not safe. It can never be. It will always carry with it a terrible inherent danger. The only question is, where will the next one be, and how bad will it get?


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