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Three Mile Island

  1. Oct 11, 2004 #1
    I'm doing a school project on the Three Mile Island nuclear accident (1979). One of the requirements is to take a poll of people's opinions, so I'm putting this up here and a couple other places. Please answer these questions, and if you want to know more about what happened at Three Mile Island, go to this URL for some info. http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/fact-sheets/3mile-isle.html

    Poll
    ------
    How old are you?

    Are you male or female?

    Do you think that nuclear power plants are safe?

    Do you live near a nuclear power plant?

    If you were alive during the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, (1979), did you hear about it?

    After the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, other power plants built by the same company were shut down for several years. Do you agree with this decision?

    During the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, some radioactive gasses were released into the atmosphere. The government said there wasn't enough radiation to cause problems with the surrounding area, but several lawsuits were filed because people believed that it had caused various birth defects, including one case of Down Syndrome. Do you think that these birth defects were caused by the nuclear accident?

    -----
    Thanks for taking your time.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 11, 2004 #2

    russ_watters

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    Staff: Mentor

    28,
    m,
    yes,
    yes (20 miles from Limerick, but I used to go to school ~5 miles away),
    yes, but I was young,
    no.

    For the last question, I don't have a real high regard for lawyers, especially personal injury lawyers. Down Syndrome is one of the most common birth defects, so its an easy target and no scientific evidence is required to win a lawsuit (just inuendo that the jury/judge buys or scares the power company enough to settle). A study was done recently tracking cancer rates nearby for the 20 years after the accident. It found no anomolies. So the answer to the question is a long-winded no.

    Welcome to the site.
     
  4. Oct 11, 2004 #3

    enigma

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    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    26,

    m,

    yes,

    yes, a very small research reactor on the NIST campus. Most people don't even know its there.

    yes, but I was very young and overseas. I remember Chernobyl. They were telling us not to eat the grass...

    no. It wasn't the reactor which caused the problems, it was human error. Proper training would have prevented it entirely. That training would not have taken years.

    No. Ditto Russ's comments. If the lawyers want to go after something, they should go after coal plants and asthma cases. They're much worse than any nuclear reactor accident, except possibly Chernobyl.

    You may want to add another question asking what the responders do for a living, idonthak.
    I'm an engineering graduate student. Russ is an engineer.

    Welcome to PF! :smile:
     
  5. Oct 11, 2004 #4

    Chronos

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    Science Advisor
    Gold Member
    2015 Award

    I played outdoors when a child [>40]
    m

    yes [I helped build 3 of them]

    within a hours drive

    I was working at another nuclear plant at the time. Needless to say, we heard about it rather quickly including details that never made the news.

    Shutting down the other plants was prudent. The duration of shutdown was ridiculous, though politically expedient.

    The level and amount of emissions was trivial. Actuarial risk was calculated to be statistically insignificant at the time. This prediction was confirmed by studies of actual incidence rates over twenty years. Of course this won't stop lawyers who are more interested in fees than facts. It did, however, bring the nuclear power industry to a screeching halt. All new facilities not already under construction were cancelled after TMI, which ended the careers of a quite a few people I happened to know, including me. [I subsequently lined up a job at NASA... just before the Challenger disaster... and learned the meaning of the term 'hiring freeze']. You might say I am more familiar than most with the effects of fallout from TMI.
     
  6. Oct 12, 2004 #5

    selfAdjoint

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    Staff Emeritus
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    Dearly Missed

    71

    male

    yes

    no (used to)

    yes

    no. 1 year would have been sufficient. The companies need to revise their operational methods.

    no. Compare incidence of Down's syndrome in a randomly selected population of similar size, demographics, etc. Is incidence in exposed population significantly higher, in the statistical sense?
     
  7. Oct 12, 2004 #6
    18
    Male
    Yes, when properly maintained (the recent Japan incident comes to mind).
    Yes, there is one on my campus as well, Georgia Tech, it has been shut down since the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
    I was not alive.
    No.
    I'm pretty confident that if there were a problem, the government would have evacuated all of the people.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2004
  8. Oct 13, 2004 #7
    That would have been a good idea if I hadn't already gotten most of my responses :P

    But thanks anyways.
     
  9. Oct 14, 2004 #8
    Welcome to PF

    1. I am 81and have been substitute teaching since retiring in 1982.

    2. Yes, I'm sure that nuclear power is safe. You possibly are unaware that the accident at Chernobyl was with a graphite moderating design that had once been designed in Hanford and ultimately abandoned because of fear that the graphite, being a dense form of charcoal bricks would ignite with high heat.

    3. Yes, I think nuclear power is safe.

    4. I do not live near nuclear power plant but I did live for 50 years "44 - '94) in and around Los Alamos where "yellow smoke" that resulted from the spontateous ignition of explosive shocked depleted Uranium that served as a shockwave barrier in almost every experiment that my group tested. At that time the yellow smoke was not known to float for so long. Incidentally, there was an undocumented but very high incidence of cancers among longtime residents including mine and that which killied my wife; neither of our families has a single incidence of cancer history.

    5. One of the first power reactors was constructed in another part of the building where my duties were still involved with Critical Assemblies of Plutonium weaponry. It was interesting that the "Fast Reactor" heat transfer fluid was liquid Sodium that transferred it heat without the danger of Steam damage into a steam boiler that turned a turbine.

    6. Shutting down TMI was SOP as was pausing other activities; a couple of months would have been suficient. The press went overboard about the gigantic gas bubble in the water that had been neutron radiated. The Hydrogen in the bubble didn't explode but gradually neutralized the hydroxyl ions that had been left in the surrounding water.

    7. Radiation sickness that is the result of the gamma-ray flash of a bomb is insignificant at TMI. The primary public health issue is due to air-borne fission fragments: 1) Strontium-90,half-life of 29 years, replaces its sister element, calcium , thus affecting lactation and bone structure of victims; and 2) Iodine-131, 8-day half-life, that can find its way into the health problems of the thyroid glands of the victims.

    Cheers, Jim
     
  10. Oct 26, 2004 #9
    Poll
    ------
    How old are you? 48

    Are you male or female? m

    Do you think that nuclear power plants are safe? more or less

    Do you live near a nuclear power plant? 50km,50km,50km (6 reactors in total)

    If you were alive during the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, (1979), did you hear about it? yes (at the reactor course I attended! focus was on probabilites then!)

    After the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, other power plants built by the same company were shut down for several years. Do you agree with this decision? yes

    During the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, some radioactive gasses were released into the atmosphere. The government said there wasn't enough radiation to cause problems with the surrounding area, but several lawsuits were filed because people believed that it had caused various birth defects, including one case of Down Syndrome. Do you think that these birth defects were caused by the nuclear accident? maybe
     
  11. Nov 14, 2004 #10
    58 M
    Do you think that nuclear power plants are safe?
    Almost but regulation needs to be tightened and the present administration is going in the opposite direction.
    No
    Yes

    After the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, other power plants built by the same company were shut down for several years. Do you agree with this decision?
    Yes, the company was very reluctant to inform the public.

    no
     
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