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tv   Three Mile Island Collection  CSPAN  January 22, 2017 8:39am-8:51am EST

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that is and how the system works. much of what we think of as the law consists of rules and regulations written by bureaucratic agencies, by bureaucrats who are not elected by anyone and who served for decades. >> on c-span's q&a. >> american history tv is joining our cable partners to showcase the history of harrisburg, pennsylvania. visit c-span.org. we continue now with our look at the history of harrisburg. >> author robert mcdonald archive. the is the depository for the
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public records of pennsylvania, particularly those from state government. we have some responsibility for county records. we hold about 70,000 cubic feet and that is 250 million pages of material throughout the storage tower. we are looking at some material from the archive holdings regarding the nuclear accident at three mile island. the accident started on march 28, 1979. there was a partial marked out of the core of the reactor in the facility. it is located south of miles.urg, about six the facility is on an island in the susquehanna river. that is where the name came from. i was a freshman at messiah college.
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my recollection is that information about the accident was coming out in bits and pieces. itple became concerned about , about their children. many families decided to get in the car and leave the area. the accident occurred on wednesday. on thursday, college professors and students started leaving. friday, the majority of the campus was empty. i did not go home. i lived in york and it was the same distance as the college. there was no purpose in going home. campusf us who stayed on were called into the dining hall. professorsphysics explained what was going on. most common people were not aware of what nuclear energy was.
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a lot of people were concerned with the release of radiation. that's why a lot of people left the area. they were afraid there would be too much radiation. significance, the state archives has materials related to the accident. there are three major collections the house the bulk of the material. we do have papers from a governor thornburgh. there are a subset of papers related to the three mile island incident and the days after that and the work he did in office. he established a commission to investigate the accident. that was a state commission. the state archive holds the original archive. who recently, harold benton helped deal with the accident
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donated a collection of his papers related to his involvement at three mile island. stick thornburgh was in office during the time of the accident. one of the things that came from the commission was this chronology of the events surrounding the accident. it is minute by minute what was happening starting at 7:02 a.m. on wednesday, march 28. notifies officers the plant has been shut down. it continues from there who is being notified. notify a.m., they lancaster county. he gets a call from president carter. he agrees with the evacuation decision. at the same time, the president says harold denton will be his personal representative on the incident.
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30, the governor had a press conference from the media schoolst which time the were to be closed. among the papers we received from elinor thornburgh are telegrams and letters regarding what people thought should be done to deal with the accident. there are some very interesting suggestions. someonea telegram from who was with the manhattan project. he telegram the governor to say to prevent melt down, if safety rods are inoperative run borax solution into damaged nuclear reactor if the accept -- access port is available. a letter came from terry richards of kansas city. he has lots of advice for the governor. what's interesting is he drew sketches of how he watched the
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problem. there were people who were opposed to the use of nuclear energy and were concerned about the accident. there was criticism of what was happening at the time. this is a telegram to the governor on march 30. it says dear sir, it's the greatest moral sin for you to state there is no danger to children or pregnant women in harrisburg at this time. it seems a prudent man would rather err on the side of safety. the children should be evacuated immediately or be cursed by those who will be maimed, deformed, and mutilated. you have no alternative.
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you must act now. senator andent to a to president carter at the white house. governor thornburgh had a press conference on friday, march areas. among his papers we have a transcript of that press conference. here are some things he said. no evacuation order is necessary at this time. my recommendation that preschool children stay out of the area within five miles of the plant site will remain in effect until sometime tomorrow or we expect further advice. advice to people living within 10 miles of the plant site try to remain indoors will expire at midnight. in his efforts to keep the public informed, he had a state wide televised address on april 6. it was a report to people on the
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three mile island incident. he says my fellow pennsylvanians, very soon i hope to have the pleasure of telling you you can go home again. i shall treasure that moment for as long as i live. i believe it will mark the end of the most dangerous days of a any governorion has had to make. there is a rover designed to deal with nuclear accidents such as the one at three mile island. into the could go containment building without having to send humans inside to deal with the meltdown. the rover on display in the state museum was used for training. it's like the one that was used to clean up the reactor at three mile island. harold entenmann's sent by
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president carter to be part of the response to the accident. his papers included a file of letters and cards from schoolchildren thanking him for his role in that. here are a few examples. these mostly come from an elementary school class in york. one of our favorites is this one, there is a nice flower. the student says i was very scared. we would have been dead. radiation got me upset. some of these cards have nice drawings of the cooling towers. governor thornburgh received this huge letter.
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this came from sheffield elementary school, prepared on friday may 4, 1979. they shut down all nuclear power plants. had the years, we have researchers come into the state archives to look at these collections. some people come to remind themselves what happened. other people come to study the state government response. records to look at what has happened in the past and apply those lessons and thoughts to issues dealing with nuclear power today. wax we're featuring the history
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of harris, -- harrisburg, pennsylvania. you can learn more on our website. you are watching american history tv all weekend, every weekend on c-span3. >> author robert mcdonald explains why thomas jefferson was a polarizing figure. and why his actions and writings led him to be revered by his contemporaries or portrayed by -- as dangerously radical and un-american. this is about an hour and 15 minutes. robert: of all the founding fathers, thomas jefferson was the most controversial and confounding. loved and hated, revealed and reviled during his lifetime, he served as a lightning rod for dispute. even today, he serves as a lightning rod or dispute.

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