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Dinner, museum display, book talk will mark 40th anniversary of Three Mile Island accident

By Dan Miller


Posted 3/13/19

There are a number of events scheduled in the community leading up to the 40th anniversary of the accident at Three Mile Island.

“Tell Your TMI Story” is the theme behind one such …

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Dinner, museum display, book talk will mark 40th anniversary of Three Mile Island accident


There are a number of events scheduled in the community leading up to the 40th anniversary of the accident at Three Mile Island.

“Tell Your TMI Story” is the theme behind one such event to commemorate the anniversary, to be held by Middletown Area Historical Society at the society’s museum at 29 E. Main St. from 7 to 9 p.m. Monday, March 25.

Society trustees say the event will be an opportunity for guests to offer “an impromptu recounting of their life on those 11 fateful days from Wednesday, March 28 to April 8, 1979, when Three Mile Island put Middletown unwillingly on the map — worldwide,” according to the historical society press release.

The event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.

Three Mile Island is known around the world for the accident on March 2, 1979, in which Unit 2 suffered a partial core meltdown. Unit 2 has been closed since then while Unit 1 still operates.

In addition, the society has also set up an exhibit of items related to TMI in the museum.

The exhibit includes such items as a Three Mile Island board game, a book of recipes by The Women’s Club of Middletown “that helped us survive Three Mile Island,” and a photo of Jane Fonda and her then-husband Tom Hayden, when the couple came to the area to attend an anti-nuke rally at The Radisson in East Pennsboro Township in April 1979.

The photo was taken by Jeannie Dunaway, a society volunteer at the museum who has her own vivid story to tell regarding her experience living in the Middletown area during the TMI accident.

The society is looking for more items that can be donated to the TMI exhibit, such as the “I Survived TMI” and “We Stayed Behind To Save Yours” T-shirts, as well as any other slogan-themed T-shirts, mugs, trinkets or “doodads,” as the society puts it.

The TMI exhibit will remain in place at the museum at least into June, society Trustee Jenny Miller told the Press & Journal.

All items donated to the society for the TMI exhibit will be returned when the display is retired. However, the society will gladly accept any items that the donor wishes to be permanently archived at the museum.

Besides during the March 25 event, you can check out the TMI exhibit every Wednesday morning, when the museum is open from 9:30 a.m. to noon.

The museum will also be open to the public Sunday, March 24, from 1 to 4 p.m.

Other events in Middletown include:

Survivor dinner

At 4 p.m. Saturday March 23, the watchdog group TMI Alert will hold a “TMI Survivors’ Dinner” at the American Legion Post 594, 137 E. High St. in Middletown. The cost of the dinner is $20.

To buy tickets, call TMI Alert at 717-233-7897.

TMI Alert as part of observing the 40th anniversary is also partnering with health care and other professionals to design two new surveys to collect information about the health effects of the TMI accident, as well as of the ongoing operation of the TMI plant in Londonderry Township.

The surveys are to collect information from those who survived the TMI accident, and also from the next of kin of those whose deaths are thought to be attributable to the effects of radiation from the accident or plant operations, according to the January 2019 TMI Alert newsletter.

Penn State Harrisburg

At 3 p.m. Wednesday March 27, an event commemorating the TMI accident anniversary will be held in Morrison Gallery on the campus of Penn State Harrisburg.

The event will include a presentation by Arnie Gundersen, who is a nuclear engineer; a community panel, and an academic panel.

TMI Alert will hold a vigil at the TMI plant gate at 3:30 a.m. Thursday March 28.

Book discussion

At 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 28, artist and Middletown native Andrew Hurst will preview material from his forthcoming book project titled “Boy and Island.”

The book weighs in on the TMI accident and its effect on local citizens, “unveiling the previously untold story of his family’s incredible journey in search of sanity and justice on the frontline of a nuclear nightmare,” according to a press release.

The event will be held at the Tattered Flag Brewery and Still Works,  1 S Union St., Middletown.

Hurst was 6 when the accident occurred in 1979, while his father, James Hurst, was a founding member of People Against Nuclear Energy.

PANE’s efforts to hold TMI’s owners and operators accountable went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“In waging this war the Hurst family found themselves in an astounding series of circumstances that uprooted their lives and led them to seek refuge in strange places, leading to encounters with remarkable people,” according to the press release.

“I want to focus on the human element of this story, honor the strength of individuals who stand up for what they believe, and to pay tribute to my mother and father, and all the mothers and fathers of the area caregiving for us children under the extreme circumstances that the accident at TMI created. Now as an adult I want to pay my respects by telling this story as it has never been told before,” Hurst said.

He will screen a mini-documentary previewing archival material that he has unearthed in his research. A question-and-answer session and reading will follow featuring excerpts from his progress on the book.

Hurst is an artist, musician, and writer based in New York City. He is a 1992 graduate of Middletown Area High School. He received a bachelor of fine arts degree with teacher’s certification from West Virginia University in 1997, and a master of fine arts degree in painting from Pratt Institute in 2001.