MIDDLETOWN, Pa. (WHTM) — Many Midstate residents will never forget the day of the Three Mile Island meltdown. For those of us who weren’t born yet or were too young to remember, we will never forget the stories we were told about the day.

A clear memory I have is seeing Three Mile Island straight ahead while my family drove through the little city of Goldsboro to meet my grandparents at the public boat landing. The towers would puff out fluffy water vapor into the sky.

My grandparents own a river cottage on an island directly across from Three Mile Island. The tight-knit community of Beech Island has been through a lot, between the meltdown and many devasting floods.

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My grandma explained that on the day of the meltdown, my grandpa and she were both working at the Army Depot in New Cumberland. My dad was in daycare while my grandparents were working, and my grandparents were very worried about his safety once they heard the news of the meltdown.

After my grandparents were able to leave work, they picked up my dad. They later evacuated the area, along with my great-grandparents, to Lewisburg.

During the historical event, my grandma mentioned how scared everyone was. There was a lot of uncertainty she said, and stories kept changing as to what had happened or what was going to happen.

Eventually, residents began returning to Beech Island, as well as surrounding islands. Residents had the well water tested for radioactive contamination. My grandma mentioned how the results came back negative.

Some residents sold their cottages and never returned to the island.

This year, 2023, marks the 44th anniversary of the meltdown of Three Mile Island. This meltdown is known as America’s worst commercial nuclear accident. Dangerous radioactive gases were released into the air.

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The event was a result of both human and mechanical failures, which ultimately led to the evacuation of around 140,000 people.

Currently, the remaining Unit 1 Reactor is owned by Constellation, which is working on dismantling the unit. Constellation separated from Exelon last year, according to an employee with Constellation.

The team in charge of decommissioning the Unit 2 Reactor, the reactor that had the accident, has released this statement regarding the anniversary of the accident:

“On behalf of the EnergySolutions/Jingoli TMI-2 Decommissioning Team, we want to acknowledge this day in the history of the nuclear industry.

Forty-four years ago today, the TMI-2 accident occurred impacting this community and the nuclear industry.

As a project team we are proud and honored to be safely and efficiently completing the decontamination, decommissioning, and demolition of TMI Unit 2. Safety is our core value, which means that all work is completed with the highest regard for the safety of our employees, the public, and the environment.”

David Del Vecchio
TMI-2 Project Director