Sunday, March 29, 2009

Three Mile Island

Yesterday marked the 30-year anniversary of the partial meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant - the worst nuclear power accident in U.S. history.

30 years ago I was in 6th grade at Stevens Elementary School in Carlisle, PA - 21 miles away from Three Mile Island. I don't remember much about the incident (the adults downplayed the danger), but I do remember that we weren't allowed out for recess, and the teachers kept the classroom windows closed. Because if the reactor melted down we would have been COMPLETELY safe indoors with the windows shut. Or something like that.

Throughout the crisis, officials never ordered an evacuation because they were afraid of causing a panic. My dad worked in Harrisburg (the state capital) which was just 10 miles away from T.M.I. - and I remember him talking about co-workers who left the area immediately. I also remember my parents talking to my brother and I about the possibility leaving in case things got worse. I guess we would have gone to Texas to live with my grandparents, but ultimately we stayed put. And eventually we were allowed to go outside for recess at school again.

When I go visit my family back in Central Pennsylvania I always take the Amtrak train. And right before the train arrives in Harrisburg (my destination), I always look to my left to see the four cooling towers of Three Mile Island which loom over the Susquehanna River.

In 1985 the undamaged unit went back online - and is still operating today. That is why now you only see steam coming from 2 of the towers - the damaged unit has been decommissioned.


Howard said...

Ah yes, I remember it well. I was in college in Reading, PA, and there was much panic to be had. Some students were picked up and taken home, while others of us figured it was a good excuse for a party... So we proceeded to drink ourselves into an alcohol-induced meltdown.

mistress maddie said...

And girl don't forget Budge only lived 3 miles from there. Must be why he was so damn nuts!!!

Beth said...

My hubby is a project manager at a nuclear power plant, so I've learned a lot about them over the years. (And no, he doesn't glow.) :)


Jennie said...

Oh wow. That is just crazy! I have similar memories of earthquakes, but those aren't nearly as scary as a meltdown!

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