January 06, 2013
Three Mile Island is a nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania that suffered a partial meltdown in one of its reactors in 1979 due to a confluence of failures, both human and mechanical.. Though widely touted as an unmitigated catastrophe, the areas radiation detectors detected very low levels of radiation released, about 1/1000th that needed to cause immediate heath effects. A subsequent Columbia university study was done in 1991 to measure long term effects. It measured the cancer frequency of the local population to the US as a whole over the 10 years since the accident and found a very small increase in some cancers (and a lower rate than the norm for Leukemia). Because the measured increases were so low (between 0.4 and 1.17%) and the distribution did not correlate to the actual contaminated area (as described by wind patterns and dosimeter reports) the Columbia study actually suggested that stress was as a possible cause of the increase...and with all the hype the people of the area had certainly been subjected to stress. A more recent study points out that the area along the Susquehanna river near Three Mile Island happens to have one of the highest radon levels in the USA. This might invalidate all attempts to tie cancers to the reactor accident. Not mentioned in either study is the likelihood that residents around Three Mile Island were screened for cancers at a higher rate than the average US population which likely further skewed the number of cancer discoveries and thus the overall numbers.
Thus it is pretty darned clear that, while initial concern regards the incident was good and proper the subsequent hype and hysteria was both irresponsible and grossly misleading. Furthermore, the effects of the breathless and sensational coverage included the virtual death of the nuclear plant construction in the USA, which was a far greater catastrophe for the nation than the accident itself.
Posted by: Steven Den Beste at Sun Jan 6 09:46:38 2013 (+rSRq)
Posted by: JT at Sun Jan 6 10:22:36 2013 (DY79H)
Posted by: Mikeski at Sun Jan 6 14:36:35 2013 (DU6Ja)
Posted by: Mauser at Sun Jan 6 21:48:31 2013 (cZPoz)
Posted by: Douglas Oosting at Mon Jan 7 11:39:34 2013 (N9Lwt)
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