Three Mile Island nuclear reactor catastrophe
March 28, 1979
Island: The Truth
Beyond Nuclear, Spring 2004
“NO ONE DIED”: THE
The nuclear industry line — that “no one died at Three Mile
Island” — does not stand the test of fundamental medical
scrutiny. Yet it is often repeated, including by the media,
and has been taken up by today’s nuclear deniers in
asserting that the Fukushima nuclear disaster, too, will
yield no fatalities.
Not only deaths but
illnesses resulting from the disaster are downplayed. The
NRC website alleges that there were “negligible effects on
the physical health of individuals or the environment.”
Again, this is contradicted both by independent analysis and
by medical science.
Given that exposure to
ionizing radiation is medically understood to cause diseases
like cancer which can be fatal, there is no way definitively
to state that “no one died at TMI” or later developed
cancers. The opposite is far more likely to be true.
Estimates are complicated
by the long latency period for illnesses caused by exposure
to radiation and by the fact that many victims move away
after an accident and are not then tracked in any scientific
Long after a catastrophic
radiation release, disease can still manifest, both from the
initial radiation exposure and from slow environmental
poisoning, as the radionuclides released by the disaster are
ingested or inhaled for many generations.
The two studies — from
Columbia and Pittsburgh Universities — that have perpetuated
the “no harm” myth, were conducted under the constraints of
a court order that established the “TMI Public Health Fund”
and significantly compromised the study findings. Columbia
and Pittsburgh each concluded that they could not attribute
increased cancers to the TMI disaster.
The only independent
study, by Dr. Stephen Wing et al. at the University of North
Carolina, Chapel Hill, looked at radiation-specific markers
in residents’ blood, called biomarkers, to assess dose,
rather than relying solely on industry-measured (or mis-measured
as the case was) radiation emissions. The Wing et al.
study’s very different conclusions found that lung cancer
and leukemia rates were two to 10 times higher downwind of
the Three Mile Island reactor than upwind. ...
The Disaster: What happened? "No one died": The
Biggest Lie Beyond Nuclear, Spring 2014
Hershey researcher believes new study makes first connection
between TMI and cancer A type of thyroid cancer
caused by radiation was more common among patients who were
near TMI during the 1979 partial meltdown. Pennsylvania
Real-Time News, May 31, 2017
Three Mile Island at 39: What Actually Happened to US?
Hour-long audio of panel discussion among journalists who
covered the accident as it happened and researchers
reporting on the long-hidden medical impact. Nuclear
Hotseat, April 11, 2018
Union of Concerned Scientists summary