Penn State Harrisburg to mark Three Mile Island accident's 35th anniversary

Three Mile Island

The Three Mile Island Unit 2 reactor, near Middletown, Pa., partially melted down on March 28, 1979.

Credit: Penn State

To mark the 35th anniversary of the Three Mile Island (TMI) nuclear accident, Penn State Harrisburg will host the conference TMI @ 35: The Three Mile Island Nuclear Crisis in Perspective – Analyses, Stories, Policies on March 27 to 28 in the library Morrison Gallery. The conference opens at 3 p.m. Thursday, March 27. 

Distinguished keynote speakers include Dick Thornburgh, who served as governor of Pennsylvania during the 1979 accident, and Harold Denton, former director of the Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (USNRC) and President Jimmy Carter’s personal adviser during the incident.

The conference features a total of 35 speakers. Other keynote speakers include:

-- Arnie Gundersen – chief engineer at Fairewinds Associates
-- James Loy – former deputy secretary of Homeland Security
-- Mark S. Singel – former lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania
-- Robert Walker – former Pennsylvania congressman

Led by Alexander Siedschlag, professor and chair of Homeland Security at Penn State Harrisburg, the event will feature discussions on the TMI accident and how it set a precedent for nuclear security and safety, as well as how it informed research and provided a catalyst for social change. Experts will also discuss the complexity of catastrophic events in the nuclear sector and beyond, and how this relates to homeland security.

Panelists will represent academia, former lawmakers and agency officials, industry experts, activists and the public.

An exhibit on Nuclear Expressions, featuring memorabilia and documents from the 1979 accident and local culture, will be opened at a March 27 ceremony during the conference and will remain on display in the campus library for several weeks.

The event is free and open to the public, however, registration is required. For more information and to register online, visit

Event sponsors include Penn State Harrisburg Schools of Public Affairs, Behavioral Sciences and Education, and Business Administration; Penn State College of Medicine; and Penn State World Campus - Inter-college Master of Professional Studies program in Homeland Security.