Meltdown: Three Miles Island 2022 series review | Book Addicts

Meltdown: Three Miles Island (2022 series)

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Meltdown: Three Mile Island is a 2022 series about the nuclear meltdown accident at Three Miles Island in Middletown, Pennsylvania.

6/10 stars. I’m sure the director wanted to include both sides of the story, but including any commentary from Lake Barrett or any of the other criminals in this case was a mistake. They should be vilified, not given air time to perpetuate their lies about the nuclear energy industry. Kudos to Rick Parks. Thank God he went public.

This is a Netflix series of 4 one-hour episodes.¬† This accident is commonly referred to as “America’s Chernobyl”.

Episode 1

March 28, 1979 Middletown, Pennsylvania Three Mile Island Nuclear Energy Facility located on the Susquehannah River in a residential neighborhood with children and schools

4:00 am every alarm goes off simultaneously

5:00 am still don’t know what’s wrong, so they shut down water across the core

Core was too hot. Had already been too hot, but shutting down water across the core made it superheat. Under no circumstances is water level ever supposed to drop below the core because it leads to meltdown.

Unit 2 (reactor 2) had only been operational for three months.

They finally discover there’s a relief valve stuck in the open position.

5:50 am they close the relief valve

The reactor was already overheated. The core was melting and creating a radioactive nuclear reaction that couldn’t stop.

6:57 am radiation alarm goes off

Nuclear engineers approach the reactor as close as 200 ft trying to find the cause of the alarm. They discover unshielded sample lines are giving off massive radiation, so they evacuate the building.

7:24 am unit 2 is shut down

Governor Thornbourgh was in office only 72 days and relied on what Metropolitan Edison, the owner of Three Mile Island, was telling him, which were all lies.

10:55 am Metropolitan Edison Company claims there is no radiation.

Governor holds a press conference reiterating that it is safe. A reporter announces that one of the nuclear engineers has found radiated iodine on the ground outside the facility.

Kids were outside playing because Metropolitan Edison said it was safe, the Governor said it was safe. It wasn’t.

China Syndrome film came out 12 days before accident, predicted exactly what happened, a core meltdown.

1:50 pm there’s a large thud and a pressure spike in the containment building

Operators check the equipment and it appears fine.

Less than an hour later, there is radioactivity inside the control room and everyone puts on their masks.

Sixteen miles away, radiation was detected.

Later that morning, Metropolitan Edison admitted they had been venting radiation all day and never warned the public.

The control room restarted the cooling pumps.

Day 2, March 29

They take a boron sample because boron is needed to shut down the reactor. Volunteers went in and took the sample, came out irradiated. The boron level was way too low and the reactor was unstable. It was a million times more radioactive than normal.

Metropolitan Edison kept lying to everyone. The press conferences were a complete coverup.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) was relying on what Metropolitan Edison was telling them. The NRC told the public that “China Syndrome” was impossible, that nuclear power plants were completely safe and this was impossible.

10 pm An employee at Three Mile Island calls a regulator and tells him that the core is melting down and they are being lied to.

Day 3 – March 30

There’s an increase in radiation released to the public.

The NRC doesn’t alert the public to evacuate or that they are being irradiated.

8:01 am The radiation is measured at 1200 millirem per hour.

Metropolitan Edison continues to lie to the public, telling them there is no radiation.

A siren goes off and doesn’t stop.

Episode 2

Day 3 – March 30

The mayor finally evacuates pregnant women and preschool aged children for a 5 mile radius. Everyone with children packed in their cars what they could carry and left. Older people mostly stayed. So half the town evacuated in one day.

So many people fled the mayor installed a 9 am – 7 pm curfew to prevent looting.

Radio broadcasts said that officials measured the radiation inside the buildings and it was 30,000 rems per hour, 75 times the lethal dose for humans, and 3,000 times normal operation.

President Jimmy Carter (the peanut farmer) was a nuclear engineer in the navy and erroneously told the public it was safe based on his knowledge of nuclear energy, NOT the current state of the Three Mile Island reactor 2. It wasn’t until he sent his personal representative, Harold Denton, that they discovered and announced there was a hydrogen bubble inside the reactor that could explode.

Panic ensued, so President Carter came personally to visit the facility.

Day 7 – April 3

President Carter assembled an expert panel to study the facility, but it was still venting radiation.

Over three days these experts vented the facility and intentionally released radiation into the air because they claimed the alternative was that it would eventually meltdown.

No one warned the public about this or evacuated them. They continued telling them it was safe, including President Carter.

Metropolitan Edison and the NRC began a propaganda campaign claiming that the panic that ensued from false information was causing permanent psychological damage to the residents, NOT any radiation.

No one from any government facility measured the radiation exposed to the public. Anyone who claims it was safe or gives a number was lying.

Milk in the area showed up with radiation. Fish were dead in the river. People were still drinking the water and living there.

Day 10 – April 6

Governor lifted evacuation orders for toddlers and pregnant women, so everyone with kids came back. They started getting sick with sore throats, green mucus, green vomit, etc. All signs of radiation poisoning. Kids who were outside playing came down with radiation lesions. They had metallic tastes in their mouths and all the other symptoms or radiation poisoning.

NRC told parents that their kids weren’t exposed to any more radiation damage than if they gave their kids a cigarette or glass of wine. It’s illegal to give a child a cigarette or glass of wine. Who gave them permission to dose their kids???

Residents realized the federal government, state government, and NRC were lying to them, in addition to Metropolitan Edison and their local government.

October 1979, 6 months later

Operators made several errors, at least three really big ones. They relay this at the President’s Panel. Harold Denton reports that six things went wrong, including at least one equipment malfunction, one design error, and three human errors. There had been repeated problems with Babcock and Wilcox reactor pressure safety valves. Metropolitan Edison used them anyway. This was the sixth.

Jim Creswell was the NRC inspector sent to Davis-Bessey Nuclear Power Plant in Ohio to examine these pressure safety valves. This was 6 days before the accident at Three Mile Island. He wrote a report stating that this was an emergency that needed to be addressed. The NRC ignored it.

Three Mile Island was completely avoidable.

There’s a culture of greed, not a culture of safety.

The President’s Commission was a whitewash of the warnings that had been made beforehand. President Carter wanted nuclear power and refused to be honest about what happened. Instead of measuring radiation and longterm damage of radiation exposure to workers, residents, water, and air, the commission issued a report of the cost of evacuating 44,000 which was 18.2 million dollars. :0

When residents returned to their homes they were still being irradiated. Their homes were irradiated. Their water and soil was irradiated. President Carter did nothing. Governor Thornbough did nothing.

July 1982, 3 years later

Company sent in staff to send radiation monitoring equipment and camera into the core. Purpose was to assess damage to the core. The upper half of the core had melted and collapsed on top of itself. This was massive core damage.

Episode 3

March 1983, 4 years after the accident

Rick Parks, Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant Operator

1980, 1 year after the accident

Utility companies cancelled plans to build 51 nuclear power plants.

Dick Thornburgh, Governor of Pennsylvania was upset. He wanted more nuclear power plants.

Rick Parks signed up to help clean up Three Miles Island. A few weeks before he was supposed to go, his wife was killed in a car accident. So in June 1980, he arrived for work with his two sons.

Lake Barrett, NRC Director of Three Mile Island Cleanup, was put in charge of keeping the workers and public safe from radiation. Radiation levels were 100 times the lethal dose for humans.

They were trying to dismantle the core for a cost of $1 billion. The reactor had cost $700 million and had operated for less than 3 months. Bechtel was given the contract for the cleanup. Largest privately owned construction empire in the world and friends with Ronald Reagan who was president. President Reagan’s staff were on the board of Bechtel.

Nine feet of radioactive water on the bottom of the basement. Melted fuel core. Radioactive krypton gas inside reactor. Bechtel vents the krypton gas without warning the residents or public. Lake Barrett refused to protect the public or tell them the truth.

Lake Barrett issued propaganda claiming that scaring the public was more detrimental to their health than any radiation. He called their protests “hysterical non-meaningful arguments”.

Steve Bechtel, head of Bechtel Communications, was in charge of the cleanup and cut costs at every turn to maximize profits. They used duct tape as a repair tool. Duct tape does not stop radioactivity.

The facility was so radioactive the cleanup crew couldn’t be inside for more than a minute at a time. Nothing was happening because Bechtel didn’t want to pay for protection for the cleanup crew. In response the government put milestones in place. Bechtel wouldn’t get their money until they reached the milestones. Eventually Bechtel hired Larry King. Larry told them don’t do it fast, do it right the first time. We don’t want mistakes.

First Milestone – Reactor Building Polar Crane

Polar crane is needed to remove the reactor core and fuel rods. Polar crane was irradiated. Everything had to be replaced. Bechtel didn’t want to replace any of it because they didn’t want to spend the money. There was supposed to be documentation for all repairs. There was none. No repairs. Bechtel hadn’t done any of it. Then when the milestone came, they rushed staff to make repairs not following safety protocols and with no documentation.

If the polar crane broke while lifting the core and dropped it, it would crack and create a Chernobyl level nuclear meltdown.

March 1983, two weeks before polar crane reactor lift

General Public Utilities (GPU) asked government permission to restart unit 1 in the Three Miles Island Nuclear Power Plant. Public said no.

Protests began and the government harassed the protesters. Government staff wrote down their license plate numbers and followed them. They tapped their phones too.

Governor Dick Thornburgh says in an interview that GPU would need an extraordinary burden of proof that this was safe before it would reopen.

Bechtel kept behaving irresponsibly, so Larry, Ed Gischel, and Rick contacted NRC. Lake Barrett shut them down. Barrett didn’t even look at the complaint. Barrett then told Bechtel Rick was one of the complaintants. Bechtel fired Larry King because he refused to sign off on the unsafe polar crane. They ordered Ed Gischel to a psych evaluation. They tampered with Rick’s car battery and planted marijuana in it. Barrett was trying to discredit every single complaintant. They demoted Rick.

March 17, 1983, 5 days before polar crane lift

Billie Garde, Government Accountability Project (GAP)

Rick called Billie for help. He showed her all the documentation proving that Bechtel had never examined the polar crane for safety and were using it anyway. They made their decision solely on greed.

November 1974 Crescent, Oklahoma

Karen Silkwood was a lab technician at the Kerr-McGee Cimarron Nuclear Facility in Crescent, Oklahoma. Employees kept getting exposed to radiation, so she told a reporter. She was murdered and exposed to plutonium by Kerr-McGee.

March 18, 1983, 4 days before polar crane lift

Billie convinces Rick to speak to Tom Devine, head of GAP. If the polar crane dropped the reactor it would make the entire east coast uninhabitable. Bechtel and General Public Utilities were trying to silence Rick.

After Rick picked up his two sons and went home, he saw the front door ajar. Someone had ransacked his home looking for all his paperwork. So he went public to protect his two sons.

Episode 4

March 20, 1983, 2 days before polar crane lift

The local police didn’t do anything, so Ted Levine called the FBI and they came to Rick’s home and helped him move.

March 22, 1983

Billie hand delivered Rick’s affidavit to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Ted Levine held a press conference.

The NRC voted to not use the polar crane.

Rick Parks had to keep moving him and his sons.

Congressional hearings and a federal grand jury found that Three Mile Island falsified safety reports to continue operating the nuclear facility. Metropolitan Edison had falsified data and destroyed documents showing failures so they could continue to operate.

Metropolitan Edison was charged with criminal misconduct. US Attorney General reported that both Metropolitan Edison and the NRC were ignoring safety protocols and violating the law. The company lied the first day of the accident when the public was exposed the most.

1:15 pm Day of Failure

There was a loud explosion that the company never explained. They had released hydrogen gas into the containment. It resulted in an explosion. This created fuel damage. They knew exactly what they’d done and what was happening. They called this the hydrogen burn. Lake Barrett lied and claimed it was insignificant. The hydrogen burn meant the core was in meltdown and significant radiation was being released. They covered it up.

July 24, 1984 Polar Crane Lift

They tested the polar crane. It dropped the test reactor.

Bob Arnold of Bechtel was forced to resign. Lake Barrett of the NRC was forced to resign.

May 1985

GPU tries to restart Three Mile Island again. The NRC supported them.

The NRC voted to permit GRU to restart unit 1 at Three Mile Island. They literally let criminals who’d shown disregard for human safety put the public in harm’s way yet again.

One of the residents was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, a disease of the thyroid. The doctor asked if he lived near Three Mile Island because it’s a result of radiation exposure. His youngest daughter had a thryoid tumor. Several of the residents were diagnosed with various cancers that did not run in their families and were caused by radiation exposure. Rick was diagnosed with throat cancer. The cancer rate in that area is 3 times the surrounding area. Metropolitan Edison and General Public Utilities never paid for injuries to the residents or public. They are still operating unit 1 at Three Mile Island.

6/10 stars. I’m sure the director wanted to include both sides of the story, but including any commentary from Lake Barrett or any of the other criminals in this case was a mistake. They should be vilified, not given air time to perpetuate their lies about the nuclear energy industry. Kudos to Rick Parks. Thank God he went public.

First Energy owns Metropolitan Edison.

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