Harrisburg, Pennsylvania is the home of a large, efficient, and
threatening nuclear power plant, Three Mile Island. Nuclear power plants have
the awesome ability to create large amounts of power with very little fuel, yet
they carry the frightening reality of a meltdown with very little warning.
Suppose you live in Harrisburg and you here that the nearby nuclear plant had a
partial meltdown, how would you react? When most people here the word meltdown,
they automatically think radiation, cancer, and death. Now suppose your living
in Harrisburg and you here the nearby power plant experienced a “normal
aberration”, you would probably react differently.
Even with the highly proven safety of nuclear power, there is still fear
from citizens and the chance of an accident. The nuclear power industry uses
misleading language, and words understood by nuclear employees only, or
euphemisms and jargon, to mislead the public and make them believe that there is
nothing to be afraid of and that there is no possibility of a major accident.
They take the public’s biggest fears, meltdowns and contaminations, and make
them into “events” and “infiltrations.” This use of doublespeak is misleading to
the public and may make them believe that a major accident hasn’t happened, or
the accident was a normal event or minor incident.
In 1979 a valve in the Three Mile Island stuck open, allowing coolant,
an important part of the plant, to escape from the reactor. An installed
emergency system did its job and supplied the reactor with necessary coolant,
but the system was shot off for a few hours due to employee error. Corrective
action was eventually taken, and only a partial meltdown occurred. The plant’s
containment building was able to hold most of the radioactive products from
entering the local environment. Only a small amount of activity escaped, that
activity was carried by coolant water that had overflowed into an auxiliary
building and then to the environment. Though the event didn’t pose any extreme
harm to citizens, this one billion dollar incident wasn’t an everyday event or
normal occurrence, as the industry’s doublespeak makes you believe.
In 1986 a similar but more serious event occurred in the USSR. A nuclear
power plant at Chernobyl exploded and burned. The explosion was caused by an
unauthorized testing of the reactor by its operators. Radiation spread rapidly
forcing 135,000 evacuations within a 1000 mile radius, and more then 30
immediate deaths. This event was more severe then an “energetic disassembly”
with “rapid oxidation”, it was a severe incidence.
The nuclear power industry is opposed by many groups, organizations, and
congregations. The industry recognizes the fears of people and they realize the
danger of an accident. Instead of comforting and calming their fears with
straight facts, they choose to deceive and mislead them with doublespeak. This
may settle the concerns of the public, but it hides from them the possibility of
danger, and the reality of what a meltdown can cause. This is dangerous for the
citizens, and dishonest of the industry.