Penn State Harrisburg to mark 40th anniversary of Three Mile Island accident

Aerial view of Three Mile Island

Penn State Harrisburg will hold “TMI 40: Honoring the Community and Legacy of the Accident at Three Mile Island” to mark the 40th anniversary of the accident on Wednesday, March 27.

Credit: Wikipedia Commons

Forty years ago, on March 28, 1979, there was a partial meltdown of a reactor at the Three Mile Island (TMI) Nuclear Generating Station in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, marking the most serious U.S. commercial nuclear power plant accident to date.

Penn State Harrisburg will hold “TMI 40: Honoring the Community and Legacy of the Accident at Three Mile Island” to commemorate the event in the library Morrison Gallery from 3 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 27.

“The historic Three Mile Island accident is woven into the fabric of the surrounding community,” said Holly Angelique, professor of community psychology and interim director of the School of Behavioral Sciences and Education. “It set a precedent for understanding nuclear risks, security and safety. It also informed research and provided a catalyst for social change.

“This event features many diverse voices and points of view from community members, scholars, a medical researcher, journalist, artist, and a former nuclear industry insider. It features participants from the local community, Gettysburg College, Penn State Hershey Medical Center, Stanford University and Fukushima Prefecture, Japan. This one-day conference marks a very important moment in the history of this community.”

Heidi Abbey Moyer, coordinator of Penn State Harrisburg Archives and Special Collections, will welcome attendees with a tour of the Three Mile Island archival collection at Penn State Harrisburg. The exhibition, titled "From the Archives:  An Exhibit Commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the Accident at Three Mile Island" and co-curated by graduate assistant archivist Raven Haywood, will be displayed from March 26 until May 31 in the Penn State Harrisburg library.

Arnie Gundersen, a former nuclear industry executive and founder of Fairewinds Energy Education Organization will open the event with a keynote address, from 3:30 to 4 p.m.

Panel presentations will include:

A community panel titled “Art, Journalism, and Activism” from 4 to 5:30 p.m. The panel is chaired by Angelique, and includes panelists:

  • Eric Epstein, chairman of Three Mile Island Alert, Inc. presenting “How Many Times Are We Going to Bail TMI Out?”
  • Paula Kinney of Concerned Mothers and Women presenting “Forty Years of Activism”
  • Hiroko Aihara, an independent journalist from Fukushima, Japan presenting "Current Situation in Fukushima: Invisible Nuclear Disaster"
  • Yasuyo Tanaka, artist of “If the Wind Blows” Disaster and Self-Reform exhibit at Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop in New York City.

A panel discussion titled “Health, Action, and Public Policy: Academic Contributions” from 6:30 to 8 p.m. It is chaired by Hannah Spector, assistant professor of education, and includes panelists:

  • Dr. Darrin Bann of Penn State Hershey Medical Center presenting “Altered Molecular Profile in Thyroid Cancers in TMI Vicinity”
  • Marci Culley of the College of Coastal Georgia presenting “Citizen Participation After Environmental Disasters”
  • Kyoko Sato of Stanford University presenting "Living in a Nuclear World: The Politics of Knowledge on the Effects of Radiation."
  • Kaoru Miyazawa of Gettysburg College presenting “Ethnographic Research and Education in Post-Disaster Fukushima”

A candlelight vigil will be held at 3:30 a.m. March 28, at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant. Although the Three Mile Island accident did not result in any deaths, the vigil is held to remember the impact the event had on the community.

For additional information, contact Katie Martin at [email protected].