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40th anniversary of Three Mile Island accident

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What to look for on Smart Talk March 28, 2019:

Thursday marks the 40th anniversary of the accident at Three Mile Island. It is still the worst accident at a commercial nuclear plant in the nation’s history.

A combination of plant design, an equipment malfunction and human error led to a loss of cooling water that resulted in the partial meltdown of TMI’s Unit 2 reactor. But it wasn’t until years later that the full scope of damage at the plant was known. At the time in March 1979, there were many guesses, estimates and unknowns.

There was also a lot of fear. Thousands of central Pennsylvanians living near Three Mile Island left the area. No official evacuation was ordered but then Gov. Dick Thornburgh suggested that pregnant women and families with young children leave.

Radiation was released after the accident but up to a dozen studies showed no negative health effects from the accident. Research from 2017 at Penn State Hershey seemed to contradict those studies. There are many people who blame their illnesses or poor health on TMI.

Thursday’s Smart Talk takes a look back at what happened at TMI and behind the scenes with William Dornsife, a nuclear engineer with the state at the time of the accident. We’ll also hear and discuss the results of a Franklin and Marshall College Poll and how Pennsylvanians feel about nuclear power today and going forward. Berwood Yost, Director of the Center for Opinion Research at Franklin and Marshall College and StateImpact Pennsylvania reporter Marie Cusick join us.

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William Dornsife and Scott LaMar

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Marie Cusick and Berwood Yost

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