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The Ionian

The Student News Site of Iona University

The Ionian

‘Meltdown; Three Mile Island’

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 we meet 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.
We learn that after the issue started with the nuclear reactors, the public was not informed
right away. It is not until a clip on live television is released, when a member of the radioactive
staff reveals that traces of radioactivity have 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.
We learn from interviews with the residents that they did not receive clear instruction,
and were often given conflicting pieces of information about their safety. Ultimately, in the week
following the accident, residents were told that they should evacuate, however it was not
mandatory.
Although Rick Parks didn’t 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
clean up, a dangerous, yet what he believed would be 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 seeked legal help to protect himself, as well as get the
point across that the clean up crew was cutting corners to a dangerous extent. This greatly
affected his relationship, career, and life entirely.
Eventually, with the help of many others, Parks was able to get the clean up crew to
change their plans and take a safer route to stabilizing the plant. Although another tragedy was
averted, this had a huge effect not only on Parks’ life, but on all of the 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 that their health was impacted by
the incident.

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Connor Coppola
Connor Coppola, Arts & Entertainment Editor

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