AUTHORWalker, J. Samuel
TITLEThree Mile Island: A Nuclear Crisis in Historical Perspective
PUBLISHERThe University of California Press
CITYBerkeley, CA

This informative, readable volume presents the 1979 accident at the nuclear power plant at Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania in its historical context. The book analyzes the technical, social, and political aspects of the accident. It begins with the United States government's role in nuclear safety prior to the accident and an examination of the debate on nuclear power in the early 1970s. The detailed narration of events that led to the accident provides a fascinating story, as does the account of the reactions of government at all levels. Five central chapters cover the crucial days of March 28th through April 1st, days characterized by much confusion and fear. In the aftermath the public perception of Three Mile Island did not always accord with the facts. The book closes with a presentation of the effects of the accident. Unlike the Chenobyl accident seven years later, no lives were lost and the effect on public health was at worst slight. Nevertheless, the accident had a profound impact on the civilian nuclear power industry with no new plants built since then. J. Samuel Walker's portrayal of the technicians, managers, government officials and reporters provides a human dimension. The author is the historian of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC); the book represents his views, not an official position of the NRC. Walker wrote two previous books on the history of regulating civilian nuclear power in the United States spanning the years 1946 to 1971.

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