2019 Smart Talk Top Stories — Three Mile Island 40th

The 2019 top stories on Smart Talk series concludes Tuesday with conversations on the program this year focused on the 40th anniversary of the accident at Three Mile Island — the worst accident at a commercial nuclear plant in the nation’s history.

On March 28, 1979, a combination of plant design, an equipment malfunction and human error led to a loss of cooling water that resulted in the partial meltdown of TMI’s Unit 2 reactor. But it wasn’t until years later the full scope of damage at the plant was known. At the time in March 1979, there were many guesses, estimates and unknowns.

There also was a lot of fear. Thousands of Central Pennsylvanians living near Three Mile Island left the area. No official evacuation was ordered but then Gov. Dick Thornburgh suggested that pregnant women and families with young children leave.

Tuesday’s Smart Talk takes a look back at what happened at TMI and behind the scenes with William Dornsife, a nuclear engineer with the state at the time of the accident. Also on the program are David Solleneberger, a radio reporter at the time, and Eric Epstein of TMI Alert who talked about the accident’s legacy.