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NoME Part Three: Chapter 7: Session 848, April 11, 1979 4/34 (12%) tornadoes nuclear reactor exterior Mile
– The Individual and the Nature of Mass Events
– Part Three: People Who Are Frightened of Themselves
– Chapter 7: The Good, the Bad, and the Catastrophic. Jonestown, Harrisburg, and When Is an Idealist a Fanatic?
– Session 848, April 11, 1979 9:21 P.M. Wednesday

[... 15 paragraphs ...]

(Pause.) The various potions taken faithfully by the public were now often found to have very unfortunate side effects. The chemicals used to protect agriculture had harmful effects upon people. Such situations bothered the individual far more than the threat of nuclear disaster, for they involved his contact with daily life: the products that he bought, the medicines that he took.

[... 4 paragraphs ...]

The leader of Jonestown was at heart an idealist. When does an idealist turn into a fanatic? (Long pause.) When can the search for the good have catastrophic results, and how can the idealism of science be equated with the near-disaster at Three Mile Island, and with the potential disasters that in your terms exist in the storage of nuclear wastes, or in the production of nuclear bombs?

[... 10 paragraphs ...]

1. A few miles below Harrisburg. Three Mile Island, with both of its nuclear reactors off line, or inoperative, sprawls on its island in the Susquehanna River like a wounded behemoth. Engineers are guiding the disabled reactor of Unit No. 2 toward a “cold shutdown,” the state in which the temperature of the water in the reactor’s primary cooling system drops below the boiling point, pressure is reduced, and the risk of a meltdown of the uranium fuel rods in the reactor core is eliminated. But it will be at least many months before the unit’s highly radioactive containment building can be entered for an assessment of damage. In the meantime, Pennsylvania’s governor has announced that it’s safe for children and pregnant women to return to the area.

The severity of the “event” at Three Mile Island has spurred antinuclear protesters into action in many areas of the country; and the proliferating state, federal, and industry investigations into the accident promise to generate a collective fallout of a kind that’s bound to have far more impact on the nuclear power industry, and society, than anything that’s come from the crippled plant itself so far. Jane and I believe that eventually this worst accident yet will be seen as a most fortunate occurrence, emphasizing — indeed, as it already has — the great dangers inherent in the growing worldwide emphasis upon nuclear power at this time. We’re following the whole affair involving Three Mile Island with the greatest interest, and my clipping file on it grows daily.

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