Smart Talk: Media coverage of TMI accident was part of the story

  • Merideth Bucher/WITF

WITF continued its coverage of the 40th anniversary of the accident at Three Mile Island nuclear power plant Tuesday on Smart Talk by discussing how the media covered the event and its aftermath.

The nation’s worst commercial nuclear accident on March 28, 1979 was a seminal moment for most Central Pennsylvanians — many can recount where they were and how they reacted to the news. The same can be said of journalists who covered the story.

Reporters with little knowledge of nuclear power were given information that was often confusing and contradictary — if they got useful information at all from plant operator Metropolitan Edison. Even state government officials, including then Gov.-Dick Thornburgh, complained about the information that was disseminated.

It wasn’t until the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Harold Denton was dispatched to TMI at the behest of President Jimmy Carter that media and officials were given clearer explanations of what happened.

Appearing on Tuesday’s Smart Talk were three former journalists who covered the TMI story — Dick Hoxworth of WGAL-TV, WHP Radio’s Dave Sollenberger and Linda Miller with the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association.

Key points:

:06 – The TMI Project

2:35 – What happened the morning of March 28, 1979

13:15 – Public fear

20:32 – Call from listener (Joe)

40:30 – The hydrogen bubble

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