Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Activists Mark Three Mile Island Accident with Arrests Protest Includes `New Generation'

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Activists Mark Three Mile Island Accident with Arrests Protest Includes `New Generation'

Article excerpt

MIDDLETOWN, Pa. -- Five activists were arrested yesterday as they trespassed onto the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station to mark the 20th anniversary of America's worst commercial nuclear accident.

The five crossed a set of railroad tracks onto the property of GPU Nuclear Corp. to close a predawn rally and were arrested without incident.

The vigil marked the moment about 4 a.m. on March 28, 1979, when mechanical problems and human error caused more than one-third of the reactor's uranium fuel to melt.

The company and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said only insignificant amounts of radiation escaped the plant during the days following the accident, but activists contend monitoring was inadequate and the actual amount is unknown.

More than 100 people gathered in the rain outside the plant to light candles and speak against continuing reliance on nuclear power.

"Half the crowd here was not alive when TMI happened," said Eugene Stilp, a veteran anti-nuclear activist with No Nukes Pennsylvania. "We're turning this over to a new generation."

Speakers described the frustration of fighting the 1985 restart of the Unit 1 reactor and their mistrust of industry assurances that the nation's aging nuclear plants will remain safe.

TMI CHRONOLOGY

Twenty years ago, America witnessed its worst nuclear accident: a partial meltdown of a reactor core at Three Mile Island in Middletown, Pa. Here is a chronology of key events:

September 1974: Three Mile Island Unit 1 nuclear reactor begins running.

December 1978: Unit 2 comes into operation.

March 28, 1979: A breakdown in a pumping system sets off an automatic shutdown of Unit 2. Later equipment problems and operator mistakes allow cooling water to drain away, causing the radioactive core to overheat and start to melt. About one-third eventually melts.

March 30, 1979: An exodus begins with Gov. Richard Thornburgh's advice that pregnant women and young children get at least 5 miles from the plant. …

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