The Energy Policy Of This Nation

By: Andrew Conway

The Three Mile Island accident was the most
significant in the history of the American
commercial nuclear power generating industry.
Living in Pennsylvania at the time of the
accident, I remember it as if it was yesterday.
It began on Wednesday,the 28TH of March 1979.It
took local, state and federal officals five days
to decide what to do with the residents of local

But on March 16th of that same year,just 12 days
before this incident at Three Mile Island in
Pennsylvania, a new movie "The China Syndrome"
had benn realised.

The China Syndrome is a thriller film which tells
the story of a reporter and cameraman who discover
safety coverups at a nuclear power plant. It stars
Jane Fonda, Jack Lemmon, Michael Douglas, Scott
Brady, James Hampton, Peter Donat, Richard Herd,
and Wilford Brimley.

Basically the storyline of this movie is about a
reporter who finds what appears to be a cover-up
of safety hazards at a nuclear power plant.

TV news reporter Kimberly Wells (Fonda) and her
cameraman Richard Adams (Douglas) visit the
Ventana nuclear power plant outside Los Angeles as
part of a series of news reports on energy
production. While viewing the control room from an
observation room, the plant goes through a reactor
SCRAM. Shift supervisor Jack Godell (Lemmon)
notices what he believes to be an unusual
vibration during the SCRAM. Checking their gauges,
the control room staff finds that water levels in
the reactor core have risen to high levels; they
begin opening relief valves in an effort to
prevent too much water from damaging the plant.

Eventually Godell takes matter into his own hands
and ends up dead after being shot by members of
the local swat team after he took over the control

The implication that the company's security
people are willing to kill to silence a
whistleblower echoes allegations made about the
death of Karen Silkwood, who died in a 1974
automobile accident while on her way to meet with
a reporter to disclose nuclear power safety

In the film, a physicist says that the China
Syndrome would render "an area the size of
Pennsylvania" permanently uninhabitable. It
resulted, however, in no deaths or injuries to
plant workers or members of the nearby community.

However, following the event, the number of
reactors under construction declined every year
from 1980 to 1998. The TMI accident, along with
the release of this movie, had a psychological
effect on the nation. Before the accident, 70
percent of the general public approved of nuclear
power. After it, support for nuclear power across
the country fell to about 50 percent, where it
remained for decades.

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