The shocking real-life “meltdown” behind the new Netflix show ‘Three Mile Island’
(Credit: Netflix)

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The shocking real-life “meltdown” behind the new Netflix show ‘Three Mile Island’

Humankind has withstood the test of several disasters, ranging from natural calamities to nuclear explosions. After years of agony and suffering, the devastation wreaked by such disasters is recorded in bits of memorabilia that are found in the ruins and scatters of such places. Like the 2019 show Chernobyl, the latest 2022 mini-series on Netflix, Meltdown: Three Mile Island upholds the horrors of the titular catastrophic event that took place years back. 

The limited series takes a deeper look into the unthinkable destruction caused by the nuclear disaster and the whistleblower who spoke up to protect the residents of the area. One of the worst nuclear accidents in the history of the United States, this near-apocalyptic event is recorded via interviews, archival footage and other controversies as recounted by insiders. 

A perfect record of media frenzy, incompetence of government officials and overall corruption, this opinionated series is based on true facts. To talk about the real-life shocking event that took place, one must wind back in time to Pennsylvania in 1979. The Three Mile Nuclear Generating Station had two reactors, TMI-1 and TMI-2. Now closed, this nuclear power plant was located in Londonderry Township. 

At 4 am on March 28th, 1979, the water coolant pumps in unit 2 began to fail and led to the overheating of the system. Due to the operator’s obliviousness, the cooling water escaped and when they shut down the pumps, the reactor began to overheat, even more, leading the radiation levels to skyrocket all over the facility to an alarming degree. 

To prevent a deadly explosion, the engineers released the steam into the atmosphere, exposing the residential community to harmful radiation, several times over the next two days, unbeknownst to the people. While the plant has now been shut down, the incident bears testimony to how the government downplayed the entire incident despite knowing the potentially harmful implications it could have and the hazards it could lead to. 

Apparently, on March 28th, the lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania, William Scranton III said that they had the situation “under control” and there was no imminent “danger to public health or safety”, while engineers released radioactive steam into the air. 

Two days later, they tried to assure people by dissuading evacuation. However, exactly a few hours later, the governor, Dick Thornburgh (an appropriate name) advised children and pregnant women to evacuate, closing 23 schools. He did not ask others to evacuate but people eventually did, fearing the worst. 

The whole situation was finally under control on April 2nd, 1979, after unit 2 eventually began to cool. Although the incident did not lead to long-term illnesses, casualties etc., it instilled in the locals as well as the people of America a general distrust of the government. They were also sceptical of nuclear plants and power, leading to a stagnance in the industry for some time. The 1986 Chernobyl disaster and 2011 Fukushima disaster added to their terror. 

The first unit was shut down in 2019 due to heavy financial losses, leaving the entire Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station a shell of its nuclear past, supported by two eerie, abandoned cooling towers, as seen in the creepy Netflix posters. 

Meltdown was released on Netflix on May 4th, 2022. Watch the limited series on Netflix now.