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The Ionian

The Student News Site of Iona University

The Ionian

‘Meltdown; Three Mile Island’ showcases the story of a historical nuclear power accident

The Netflix Documentary “Meltdown; Three Mile Island,” released in 2022, revolves around the Nuclear Power Accident that took place on March 8th, 1979, in Middletown, Pennsylvania. 

The four-part docu -series starts out with interviews with Middletown residents, who lived through the accident in 1979. A key character that is introduced in the beginning of the series is Rick Parks, a nuclear power plant operator. Parks brings the audience through the events that took place before, during and after the accident and how it affected the public.  

 The public was not informed right away after the issue started with the nuclear reactors. It is not until a live television clip is released, when a member of the radioactive staff reveals that traces of radioactivity had been detected at the gates of the plant. However, clear instructions are not given to the public, who up until this point have believed that they are completely safe. They have been sending their children to school and letting them play outside. 

 Interviews with the residents prove that they did not receive clear instruction and were often given conflicting pieces of information about their safety. In the week following the accident, residents were told that they should evacuate, however it was not mandatory.  

Although Rick Parks did not work at Three Mile Island when the meltdown occurred, he wanted to help with the clean-up since he was such an avid believer in nuclear power and what it could do for America. He explains that he volunteered himself and his two sons to go help with cleanup, a dangerous, yet what he believed would be a fulfilling job.  

Parks’ hope was soon diminished as he started to see plans for the upcoming cleanup of the plant. He noticed major design flaws in the blueprints, which could have potentially made the accident much more dangerous and affected a much larger area. When he attempted to bring this up to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Parks believed that his claims were ignored and that he started facing troubles at work. He looked for legal help to protect himself, as well as get the point across that the cleanup crew was cutting corners to a dangerous extent. This affected his relationship, career and life entirely.  

Eventually, with the help of many others, Parks was able to get the cleanup crew to change their plans and take a safer route to stabilizing the plant. Although another tragedy was averted, this had a huge effect on Parks’ life and all residents in Middletown who lived through it. They claim at the end of the documentary that they now have issues trusting anything they are told and that some of them believe their health was impacted by the incident. 

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