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Fairewinds Nuclear Spring Series: TMI (Three Mile Island) Archival Records Unearthed via Demystifying Nuclear Power Blog

By Arnie Gundersen

Welcome to Fairewinds Nuclear Spring Series. This third installment will share some newly discovered archival material about the March 28, 1979 meltdown at Three Mile Island (TMI) atomic power reactor. You may remember Fairewinds asserted that the meltdown at TMI was much worse than the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) insistently portrays. These archival documents substantiate what we have always said.

Back in the day (1993-1997), I was an expert witness retained to testify in the plaintiffs’ case for the people living near TMI in the litigation against the owners of that failed nuke. Fairewinds posted some of my expert reports and reports of other renowned scientific experts that clearly dispute the fictional narrative that nobody was hurt due to the meltdown at TMI, as claimed by the nuke industry and the NRC. Here is a link to the Fairewinds TMI report section for researchers who want to know the TMI meltdown truth.

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Overview of Reports

I wrote my first report Post Accident Containment Leakage in January 1996. It provides convincing evidence that there was a hydrogen explosion at TMI between 1 and 2 PM on the meltdown’s first day. The evidence I reviewed, and the nuke industry ignored, shows that immediately following the hydrogen explosion, the atomic reactor’s containment began to leak radiation into the surrounding community.

In February 1996, I wrote Forensic Evidence to Support Blowout, the second report in the series. I think I channeled my inner Sherlock Holmes on this project. I dug up forensic evidence showing unmonitored hot radioactive gases bypassed the containment and were released into the environment. The evidence I uncovered is known as the TMI Blowout. The ‘letdown system’ is used to clean reactor water as the radioactive water travels in its loop to get reheated. In a Blowout, the letdown system drains and ends up dry enabling hot radioactive gases to escape directly from the containment building into the surrounding community. Most likely, this highly radioactive release accounts for the metallic taste that so many TMI area residents experienced on the first day of the meltdown.

I believe that the atomic power industry and its captured regulator, the NRC, try to maintain the illusion of no containment blowout and leakage to the environment to avoid public liability and continue the myth that nuclear power plants are safe. According to the NRC and the atomic power industry, containments never leak, that is until the three meltdowns at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi reactors on March 11, 2011. 

TMI sleuths will remember that in March 2019, on C-Span’s 40th Memorial of the TMI meltdown held at Penn State, I said that radioactive releases from TMI were likely 10-times-higher than the numbers claimed by the NRC and nuclear industry. Entitled Major Discrepancy between Daniel and Akers data which may increase exposures to support Plaintiff’s claimsI wrote my third report in March 1996, and this newly posted report provides all the details discussed in my C-Span analyses. 

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