Newspaper: The Sentinel
Date: April 11, 1979
Article: Now we know, what will we do?
Author: Neil C. Hopp
At the pinnacle of the crisis at Three Mile Island, CBS News Anchorman Walter Cronkite termed it “a day the world has never known before.”
To thousands of Central Pennsylvanians, it was a living nightmare, the repercussions from which will be felt for decades to come.
Whatever final conclusions are reached about the nation’s worst commercial nuclear power plant accident at an island just 23 miles from Carlisle, its events already are changing the course of nuclear power in America.
The magnitude of this local – and global – story requires a special effort by journalists, those who watched, and waited, and told the complex story to an anxious world.
The efforts of The Evening Sentinel are presented in this special edition, “Crisis at Three Mile Island.”
There is much more to be said in the days ahead; hearings and investigations by the score will be held; blame will be assessed; the costs must be assumed; people, animal and plant life will be closely studied for perhaps 20 or 30 years. It will take that long to make the final determination of Three Mile Island.
But we begin today, not only with a journal of those fateful hours when an incredible series of events brought Pennsylvania and the nation to the brink of a nuclear catastrophe, but with a more far-reaching purpose as well: the obvious, and perhaps not so obvious, questions about the future.
There were warnings that went unheeded.
There were ironies that are hard to believe.
There is an ominous history of Three Mile Island’s Unit 2 that must be reckoned with.
There are the people: those who fled, those who stayed, those who believe in nuclear power and those who do not, those who devised and sweated over the ultimate test of any civil defense plan and those who have returned to live again in the shadows of the giant cooling towers.
Beyond Goldsboro and Middletown – those towns that are now household words – how did the rest of the nation react? We’ve attempted to analyze that too, along with the critical role played by the press.
Finally, our own story, because it must be measured by the people we serve. It is a testament to young journalists who, faced with the most crucial story of their lives, remained firm in their dedication to seek the truth despite the inherent dangers.
“Crisis at Three Mile Island” also is a tribute to those men and women who volunteered in the face of fear and the unknown to plan for the safety of their fellow citizens. All of Cumberland County is in their debt.
The spectre of Three Mile Island is ours to dispel. Although the events of a few days ago will be described as a chilling chapter in American history, perhaps they can also serve to make mankind safer from that which he has wrought.
Neil C. Hopp
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