When the meltdown occurred at Three Mile Island, the utility owner General Public Utilities (GPU) and the nuclear reactor vendor Babcock and Wilcox the Nuclear Regulatory Commission all said that radiation releases were very low and that the meltdown posed no risk to citizens. Residents were told that the area around the plant was safe and that a mandatory evacuation was unnecessary, though citizens were told it was probably best to stay indoors. 

Years later, during the early 1990s, information started coming to light. Residents started to notice strange health issues in their children and themselves. A lawsuit was brought against the owner of the atomic power reactor for the physical ailments residents had developed following the meltdown.

Arnie standing outside the entrance to Three Mile Island

Arnie standing outside the entrance to Three Mile Island

Fairewinds Chief Engineer Arnie Gundersen started to delve into evidence from the TMI data record and discovered a massive government cover-up. At the time of the meltdown, Arnie was working in the nuclear industry and so he believed the information given to him by the NRC. During the meltdown in 1979, in his role as a utility corporation nuclear engineer, he even went on television and radio and told them that no one was injured, he was entirely wrong. What Arnie uncovered showed that the radiation had not be contained . He was stunned to learn that a hydrogen explosion had occurred at the reactor. The containment had failed thereby releasing massive amounts of airborne radioactivity into the air. Those unmonitored and unanticipated releases of radioactivity meant that innocent people were exposed to serious radiation doses. 

Originally two reactors were constructed and were operating at TMI, but only Reactor Unit 2 suffered a meltdown. Following the atomic power disaster, it was never restarted. The nuclear core has been removed, but deadly levels of radiation are still present inside its containment. At this time, it appears that the radiation is safely contained for the time being, but it still poses quite a risk to the environment and the people living around TMI. As the containment ages and becomes embrittled, it's possible radiation could start to escape. Either Unit 2 should be completely entombed to contain the radiation for at least the next 40-years, or the reactor should be completely scrubbed of radiation to prevent any additional leaks.  

Three Mile Island. Partially Decommissioned Reactor No. 2 on the left, Operational Reactor No. 1 on the right. Source: Buisness Insider

Three Mile Island. Partially Decommissioned Reactor No. 2 on the left, Operational Reactor No. 1 on the right.

Source: Buisness Insider

Despite overwhelming public support for the closure of Reactor Unit 1, the NRC allowed the reactor to start operating again in 1985. Unit 1 continues to operate today and in 2009 was granted a license extension by the NRC to 2034. Safety concerns aside, of which there are many when dealing with an aging reactor, it is clear that the operational reactor at TMI is no longer economically viable and should be closed as soon as possible. Exelon, TMI’s current owner, is lobbying Pennsylvania state officials for huge subsidies so it can afford to remain operational. Another nuclear subsidy from state tax dollars? The evidentiary facts show that both units at TMI should be permanently shut down, decommissioned, and dismantled as soon as possible.