Hindsight 20-20: Why I Was Wrong About Three Mile Island

By Arnie Gundersen

In 1979 I was a member of the nuclear priesthood, although I didn’t know people called it that. My wife Maggie, Fairewinds’ founder, and I met when we both worked in upstate New York on the same proposed atomic power reactor project. I was the lead nuclear engineer for the company that had applied for a license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for its proposed atomic power plant, and Maggie was in charge of public relations in the hosting community on behalf of the corporation seeking to build the reactor. 

 Arnie in the 1970's

Arnie in the 1970's

When the meltdown occurred at Three Mile Island (TMI) March 28, 1979, I believed the lies, which were disseminated by the utility owner GPU and the nuclear reactor vendor Babcock and Wilcox, and then regurgitated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, when they all said that radiation releases were very low and that no one was harmed by the disaster. I even went on television and radio and repeated that party line.

Years later, during the early 1990s, I found out how wrong I really was. By then I was no longer employed by the nuclear power industry and had become a nuclear whistleblower. People living near and around the Three Mile Island site contacted me to work for them as an expert witness due to my nuclear engineering background and my willingness to tell the truth. I was asked to help them in their lawsuit against the owner of the atomic power reactor for the physical ailments they and/or their family members had developed following the meltdown.

As I delved further into the evidence and TMI data record, I discovered a massive government cover-up. I was stunned to learn that a hydrogen explosion had occurred, the containment had failed leaking massive amounts of airborne radioactivity, and that innocent people really did die. When I went on television in 1979 and spoke with other media informing them that no one was injured, I was entirely wrong. Most of all, I discovered that our United States (US) government had perpetuated a terrible lie.

 Melted Fuel Rods at TMI

Melted Fuel Rods at TMI

Originally two reactors were constructed and were operating at TMI. Following the 1979 atomic power disaster, the TMI reactor that experienced the meltdown was never restarted, while the second unit continues to operate today. Now, in 2017, it is clear that the remaining operating unit at TMI is no longer economically viable and should also be closed as soon as possible. However, 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.

Today, just prior to the 38th commemoration of the meltdown disaster at TMI, Fairewinds Energy Education is unveiling its newly updated Three Mile Island webpage. What’s new and different? The new page ties together some of the information that experts like me have uncovered and shared about the disastrous meltdown cover-up by our own United States government. 

During the March 26 weekend, I will be in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania giving a keynote address on the 38th commemoration of the disaster for the 40th anniversary of the Three Mile Island Alert community and its members. As I prepared for my requested appearance and keynote presentation, I unearthed new information that startled me. The information, which I will reveal in my keynote, furthers my contentions, and those of the noted TMI meltdown epidemiologist Dr. Steve Wing, that people really did die, and that the United States government never sought evidence of actual radiation releases and subsequent damage.

During the next several weeks following my keynote TMI commemoration, Fairewinds Energy Education will be posting my TMI keynote presentation as well as the new evidence I uncovered. Stay tuned for to our newsletter for new, accurate, and up-to-date information on the ongoing TMI cover-up.

Most importantly, today on the TMI webpage we are also posting a special report about the Three Mile Island disaster written in 1981 by noted scientist Dr. Henry Meyers for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs.  Well before the world took notice, Dr. Meyers saw how the NRC and the nuclear industry were covering up TMI and wrote about this collusion between the two parties in his Congressional testimony.  This is not light reading, but is a powerful account of the Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum relationship between the NRC and atomic power reactor owners.  Read Dr. Myer’s report here.