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Timely release of Netflix documentary on Three Mile Island nuclear accident

Christina Macpherson <>7:18 AM (10 hours ago)
to me

 Netflix’s Three Mile Island documentary highlights the real issue with
nuclear power: people. Three Mile Island has also been thrust back in
public consciousness, although mercifully this has nothing to do with a
crisis of global import. The more prosaic reason is the release of a
Netflix documentary series telling the now 40-year-old story of the
accident and what happened afterwards. It could scarcely be more timely.

Nuclear power is in the spotlight again as western nations seek to find new
sources of energy with a view to reducing their dependence on Russian gas,
particularly in Britain, where Boris Johnson has loudly trumpeted his
support for a new generation of nuclear power plants. There’s a certain
irony here.

The one form of Russian energy US president Joe Biden hasn’t
sanctioned is the Russian uranium used to fuel its 55 nuclear power
stations, which provide nearly a fifth (18.9 per cent per the US Energy
Information Administration) of his nation’s electricity.

The documentary
exposes the critical problem with this form of power. And it’s not
nuclear energy itself, even allowing for the knotty problem of radioactive
waste, the vast cost of getting nuclear power plants off the ground and/or
the complexity involved. It is people. The first (and obvious) problem is
their reaction to the profit motive. I see you with the sage nod at the

This contributed to the poor messaging, even misinformation,
witnessed in the early days of the disaster, when no one really knew what
was going on and how dangerous the situation was, and there was a
reluctance to make it clear for fear of the impact it could have on the
industry (to which it ultimately dealt a severe body blow). It also played
a key role in what critics described as corner cutting during the clean-up,
exposed by whistleblower Richard Parks, very much the star of the show and
a compelling interviewee. He lost his job and his relationship as a result
of his determination to expose what was going on, in addition to enduring a
nasty scare when his apartment was burgled, by people apparently in pursuit
of the documentation he possessed and had stored elsewhere.

There are those
who would maintain, despite all this, that the profit motive is fine so
long as the industry is properly regulated. Again, the Three Mile Island
affair calls this into question. Regulators tend to be appointed by
politicians. Even if they have an apolitical remit – such as, you know,
keeping people safe – their leaders tend to play close attention to
political priorities. If the political priority is to encourage nuclear
energy as an alternative to importing hydrocarbons from unreliable
partners, then they will pay attention to that.

 Independent 14th May 2022

May 16, 2022 - Posted by | media, UK

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