tv Washington Journal 03312019 CSPAN March 31, 2019 7:00am-10:03am EDT
the nuclear accident in fukushima japan. you can join the conversation on facebook and twitter. washington journal is next. ♪ host: good morning. from the issue of sexual assault in the military to the future of nato, a busy week of congressional hearings. the house and senate both in session and we -- in the week ahead. this speech yesterday by beto o'rourke in el paso. it is sunday, the 31st of march as we wrap up the month. in the second half of the program we will look back on what was the worst commercial nuclear accident in our history. the events of three mile island, 40 years ago this month.
we begin with an issue shaping the 2020 race. should the electoral college be abolished? join in on the conversation. outline for democrats, (202) 748-8000. , our line for republicans. if you are an independent, (202) 748-8002. don't forget to join us on twitter or facebook, twitter @cspanwj. we want to begin with the debate over the electoral college. a number of editorials we found this weekend, including this from "the columbus dispatch," reaching be on the base." not they were trying to check mob rule, prop up southern power, preserve power come to atates, or necessary arbitrary constitutional contra nights -- compromise.
the one thing it would not do -- from "the columbus dispatch" on this sunday morning. let's take a look at what makes up the electoral college and how it resulted in the election of george w. bush and donald trump. the states are allotted electors, the number based on the congressional delegation. there is one for each member of the house and to end for each senators. there are a total of 500 and 30 80 electors and it takes 200 and 70 to be elected as president of the -- 270 to be elected as president of the united states. "e opinion of mike huckabee, the founders feared the tyranny of the majority and created a constitutional republic for good reason, so that any candidate would have to win broad support
across a nation, not just a handful of heavily populated cities." campaign trail event, there was this from a elizabeth warren, a democrat running for the white house. [video clip] >> we need to make sure that every vote counts. i want to push that right here in mississippi. because i think this is an important point. come the general elections, presidential candidates don't come to places like mississippi. places -- theyto don't come to places like california and massachusetts. right? we are not the battleground states. well, my view is that every vote matters. the way that we can make that happen -- [applause] is that we can have national voting.
and that means get rid of the electoral college. [applause] moran, one ofh many democrats saying it's time to abolish the electoral college. we want to know what you think. should the system stay in place as but together by the founders, or should it be of -- abolished? have been five circumstances in which the popular vote did not result in the election of the president, but the electoral college. beginning back in 1824, john to andrewms losing jackson. 1876, the hayes tilden dispute, rougher -- rutherford b. hayes lost to samuel tilden. john quincy adams and rutherford b. hayes went on to serve as president. benjamin harrison losing to grover cleveland by 96,000 votes in 1888. bushtly in 2000, george w.
losing by 540 4000 votes. i'll go to elected president. and of course donald trump, losing by nearly 3 million votes to hillary clinton but winning the electoral college vote. willie is first up, democratic line. what do you think of this? first of all, i think the electoral college should be completely abolished and what you just said is good reason. also, with the cyber warfare and everyone talking about russia, that would make it much harder for them. by 3 million loses -- wins by 3 million and still loses, that's ludicrous. i think it should be abolished. not by an electoral college started by dixiecrat democrats who now control the republican party. yes, i do think it should be abolished completely. host: thank you. good morning, randy.
collects good morning, good morning. we definitely should not abolish the electoral college. our founding fathers could see up ahead what would happen, where right now if we didn't have it, you would take the high populated areas like california and new york, they would be elected our president all the time and the rest of the country would not have a say in who is elected president. the electoral college, every state, it's the united states. it's not california new york that votes for the president. it's the united states. every state has a vote. the people, who they vote for. area,s a high populated they still have so many electoral votes. it's the most fairest way to elect a president. host: randy, thanks. north carolina, democratic line, what's your view on this? i'm totally against the
electoral college. i lost twice and we got the wrong president from the electoral college. it's a headache. host: going to bob, tyler, texas. good morning. the cognizance of the constitution, the guarantee that you talked about was a republican form of government. the states elect the president for suit -- certain enumerated .owers, there's like 30 of them we have got to get back to the constitution. that electedates the president. they formed the government for certain enumerated powers. the main one was protection from invasion, right after the guarantee of a republican form
of government. i don't know, nobody is following the constitution. everybody needs to know it. teaching those building blocks at liberty.org. bob, thank you. another editorial from "the pittsburgh post-gazette." "this constitutional barnacle applies only to the presidential election and more distressingly, states moreving power than individuals. think about it, if you voted for hillary clinton in pennsylvania, your vote was essentially negated by the electoral college. ofre is no apportionment those votes between those states for mr. trump and those for mrs. clinton so for those who voted for hillary clinton, they had their votes essentially over -- overruled.
ed is up next from connecticut. the morning. i would like to make a few points about the danger of abolishing the electoral. first of all, this will promote third parties and such were someone could become elected with a extremely low plurality. the other is it that if there is a close election, you would need a runoff in all 50 states. the other is that if people believe that there is a change to popular democracy that is abolishingsuch as by the electoral college, it would make sense for a lot of people to abolish the senate. the senate, really, involves disproportional powers. host: thank you for the call. want to share from you, from david at the alexander hamilton institute, he expressed his
views focusing on the electoral college. let's listen. [video clip] i think the arguments -- and i could give other examples if we have more time. perhaps it will come up at some point this morning in the panel. i think the most powerful arguments for retaining the -- first,college are it's requirement for a more geographically distributed majority or plurality or coalition. the danger of a president elected largely by a couple of sections, whether we are talking about most likely a bicoastal president under a direct vote ,ystem, conceivably one who areas., metro how you define them is not always so clear -- but we face
the very real prospect, i think, if the electoral college were to be abolished of a president elected by the two coasts, which of kos -- of course are blue, they are democratic. or likewise major metro areas. same story. full event is available on our website from the alexander hamilton institute. if you are listening on c-span radio and joining us on serious 120 four carries this program every sunday morning and we are asking you about the electoral college. our phone lines are open. (202) 748-8000 for democrats, (202) 748-8001 for republicans. a lot of tweets coming in, including this --
host: bob, you are next. ,here it all began philadelphia. good morning to you. caller: thank you for taking my call. good morning, c-span. have the shubin on the other foot, had hillary clinton been the winner in an opposite way, had she won the electoral college and lost the popular vote, this wouldn't be a debate. but because the democrats have learned to scream and cry the loudest, this has become an issue. if you -- if we went to a straight vote, literally three or five metro areas
would decide the election. they are, by the way, all overwhelmingly democratic. you tell me the fairness in that. if the rest of the country would be subject, ok, to the whims of four or five gigantic metro areas who are democratically past theou can't get genius of the electoral college instituted by our founding fathers. nobody wants to talk about that. they only want to scream when their candidate doesn't win. or when donald isn't impeached, ok? but when it comes to fairness, i don't think they really understand it. the: bob, thank you for call. from manchester, connecticut, independent line. caller: has any one of our people in our nation noticed something that isn't there to be noticed? we have learned over time that people running for office make
deals before running and they benefit from it when they lose their seat. and they always have a friend to take their place if they stand a chance to lose the seat. well, with that knowledge that they can be influenced by money, anyoneand greed, has ever thought about our founding fathers during the writing of our constitution? they want to trade with the king of the british after we fought the british office dirt in order to be ruled not by government, but by our vote. host: that is something that sean hannity talked about in his witham, we will share that you in just a moment. this headline from reuters, "the u.s. ending aid to el salvador, guatemala, and honduras over the issue of migrants. of the details.
"the u.s. is cutting off aid to those countries known collectively as the northern triangle after the president blasted those countries for sending migrants to the united states. the state department said it with engage with congress the acknowledgment that they would need lawmaker approval to .nd the funding the estimate is that $730 million in aid would be effective -- affect it. the chair of the committee said that the move was a moral. the president threatening on friday to close the border with mexico next week if mexico doesn't stop immigrants from reaching the united states, a move that could disrupt billions in illegal border crossing and potentially billions in trade. back to your calls. douglas, good morning. caller: good morning, how you doing? host: we are fine, thank you. caller: i have no problem with us having the electoral vote.
but i do believe that once you beyond a million votes, that should supersede the electoral vote. it's out -- outrageous that you can still become president when you lose by 3 million votes. that's all i have to say. host: thank you. henry, south carolina, good morning, independent line. caller: good morning. yes, my name is henry. i was calling in reference to i we reallyt of times need to look at history before we just off-the-cuff make statements about the electoral college and what we believe is happening now. when america was created, blacks were considered less than 3/5 of a human being. we could not even vote.
it was until the 1960's until we could vote. the same technically applies to women. so, when the electoral college was created, it was basically for white men who owned land. it was a political power move. true democracy would do away with the electoral college and allow for one vote for one person to really, really speak to what the nation wants. i hear all of this about east coast and west coast being democratic and whatever, but when we go back to why the electoral college was created, it was for political power for white landowners, men, male, because blacks, women, and others could not technically even be involved in our political system. host: henry, thank you for the call. ned has this --
host: the actual total was 2.8 million, but thank you for the total and thank you for your tweets. c-span wj last week, there was this from sean hannity. [video clip] >> the electoral college is a product of the system giving the states the power to conduct elections and choose the president. as a result, each state holds some power in determining the executive branch. let me explain, without the electoral college, and our framers knew this, small areas with dense populations, california, new york, new jersey, they would monopolize the keys to the white house. look at how all four of those states have been destroyed by the people in those states that elected liberal socialist politicians. everywhere else, and other
words, all of red america would be ignored. listen to what obama's former campaign manager had to say about this. >> from a campaign manager standpoint, we would never go to a small state that if there was no electoral college. you would not go to iowa. you would go to montana or new hampshire. proposal about getting rid of the electoral college, i understand the concern, and the concern is real, we have had two withoutts get elected winning a popular vote, but i agree with charlie that it's not going to happen. in other words, power would be totally consolidated. as one of the reasons, look at the line from thomas jefferson. he hated cities, saying that they were awful. he was smart, way ahead of his time. for hundreds of years, yes, the electoral college played a role
in keeping the united states united. think those red states would stick around and be in the united states if they kept losing? i tend to think not. from sean hannity, his perspective on "the ."ectoral college president donald trump once called the electoral college a disaster, now he is backing it. melvin, from fort lauderdale, florida. good morning. yes, good morning. it's kind of amusing in some instances, these people talk about the constitution with respect to voting. with the majority of these people calling in, if they were back in 1789 they couldn't vote. you had to own a certain percentage of land to vote. that was at a time when the constitution was put into effect those states, it was normally 3% to 4% of the population that
only voted who could vote. these people talking about a constitution, it was written because it maintained that the what wase men control going on in the country. nothing else, they controlled what went on. that's why it was written that way. host: thank you for the call from florida. another story from "the new york a surge"spring bringing of migrants, stretching ."cilities beyond capacity company by pictures of what it's like for those fleeing to the u.s. "facing a record influx of migrant families, in recent weeks the numbers have begun to escalate substantially thanks to the surge before the arrival of the summer heat and for months federal authorities knew that the spring was likely to set records but only now is it becoming apparent how big the numbers will be.
apprehensions dwarfing the ago, when five years the arrival of the first migrant families from central transformed the nature of immigration along the southern border. the influx, according to "the new york times," has stretched ,very agency along the border from border patrol to ice." more details at nytimes.com. on the issue of the electoral college, your views this morning. good morning. caller: good morning, steve, how are you? host: we're fine, how are you? caller: we are doing fine. first of all, we keep on going to the 1781 constitution. we must remember that the 13 original states were under the articles of confederation, where each state was its own country.
if you go and read the papers madison,as jefferson, all of the original founding the wordyou will hear country. and then in 1781, when they got put into the constitution, the thing they feared is exactly what one of the callers mentioned previously, the centralization of power through the federal government. that was the whole argument. the establishment of 1781. that's why the states didn't even go to participate. they had a hard time getting everybody to even go there because of the argument. collars, to "washington journal," we must emphasize our beginning and what it was. representation, we
must remember that every conflict has a political and economical and sociological, psychological aspect to it. host: thank you for the call. this from philip, his view from "the washington post." recently passed away at the age of nine duck, but senator birch by kim at closest we ever had to abolishing the electoral college. this from an interview during the debate in 1969. [video clip] >> i understand your subcommittee has recently concluded hearings. what actually do you believe will be taken on directly popular elections? >> it's difficult to amend the constitution, which i found out when we work on the 25th amendment. i think it's fair to say that we have a better chance today to
get this revision in our electoral process than we have ever had before. most people are aware that the present system is dangerous, outdated, archaic, it needs to be revised and made responsive to the needs of today's electoral problems. reform should meet a three-point criteria. the people should be personally involved, everybody's vote should count the same. in the final analysis the man who wins is the man who gets the most votes. there's only one proposal, the one that i have made that has been endorsed by the labor organizations to let the people directly vote for the president the same way they vote for all other occasions. from that interview is 1969. "theocus on our podcast, weekly," available on the free c-span radio app and online at c-span.org, we take a deep dive into the history of "the electoral college." weekly" tune in, "the
is available on the c-span radio app. we will look at the five presidents who won the presidency without winning the popular vote as rob joins us from michigan. good morning. the discussion is moot, if you take a constitutional amendment that would have to be ratified by three quarters of the states. you are asking these states to disenfranchise themselves. it's a cute discussion topic. it's a waste of time and it's not going to happen. would your show host an hour if aoc said let's repeal the law of gravity and have people discuss whether we should repeal the law of gravity? it's a silly undertaking. thank you. we will go to gerald, next. good morning, c-span. how are you all on this wonderful day? host: we are great, how are you?
if it was any better, i would be greedy. first of all, the republican from pennsylvania who says the democrats are crying? were they just verbally emulating the republicans? the republicans cry they do that. secondly, the east and west coast of the republicans put taxes thanpay more the republicans in those flyover states and they get less money now, as far that money. now, as far as the electoral it was a few years ago the republicans wanted to abolish it, then they decided they love it when they started to eat out the winds. america, keep up the good work. you for the call. we carried this speech live and
re-aired it this morning, beddoe or rourke in texas, kicking off his campaign just blocks from the new mexico border. here are the details, "beddoe or rourke" in the multiple -- better or rourke blot -- beto o'rourke challenging donald trump's immigration policies." mentioning immigration is one of the key reasons they were supporting him. he's 46, a former congressman, the first el paso politician to seek the nation's highest office and the only candidate in the race who lives on the u.s. mexico border. here's a portion of his campaign announcement speech. [video clip] this is a campaign for america. for everyone in america. like so many of you here, like so many more across the country, at this defining moment amy and i want you to know that we have done everything within our power for this country.
it's a sacrifice to our family, especially to our kids. we also know thatldre and the generations that follow them are depending on us now at this moment. this is our moment of truth. [applause] s ou moment of truth and we cannot be found wanting. the challenges before us are the greatest of our lifetimes. an economy that works too well for too few and not at all for too many more. a health care system where millions are unable to see a doctor or be well enough to live to their full potential. and the last best hope of averting the catastrophe that would follow additional climate change, fading before our very .n action
we must overcome these challenges. but we must first ask ourselves wealthiest, the most powerful country on the face of the planet, the most powerful country that world history has ever known has found itself in such a perilous position. for too long in this country, maintainedl have their privilege at the expense of the powerless. used fear and division that our current president uses fear and division. these other differences between us. race, ethnicity, geography, religion, to keep us apart, to make us angry, to make us afraid of ourselves and of one another.
[applause] money and influence has warped the priorities of this country. it has corrupted our democracy. it has invited the distrust and disengagement of millions of our fellow americans who see their very own governments in thrall to those who pay for outcomes. political and economic, that's the only check against this inertia of power. the only way to free our institutions of the capture and corruption by any means in which we can lift the voices and the lives of our fellow americans. from this is a story againsto," "railing
unprecedented concentrations of wealth and power." kelly, thank you for waiting. good morning. caller: yes, the electoral college was established so that each state would have a voice in the election. forget about democrats and republicans. ,ike i said, if you abolish it the low population states wouldn't really even have a voice in electing a president. we will go to melania, in new orleans. good morning. caller: i'm calling against the electoral college. when you look back in history, the last three presidents i have heard about, andrew jackson was elected by the electoral college look at what he did with the indians on the trail of tears. bush was made president by it
the electoral college -- by the wectoral college and what, never did find those weapons of mass destruction and we have a war in a rack it lasted forever. now to the president donald trump, i have never seen in my 77 years such division and hatred in this country. thank you very much. you for the call. this is the headline from "the washington post." resisting health care pipit, offering no new plan." "republicans have no intention of heating trumps plans to replace the health care plan for the political -- for the affordable care hoping that he will soon drop the idea. that according to interviews with numerous gop lawmakers, staffers, and aids.
for taking the call. of this talk about history, if the framers had wanted us to remain in the 1789, they wouldn't have given us the power to change the constitution. have aptlylers stated, things have changed. the urbanization of the population is a fact. people that don't like it, you know, they will have to accept it. and to continue to disenfranchise the majority of the population, their needs and their wants, is not a very good way to run a country, i think. i also agree with the people who said that abolishing this senate -- i don't agree with abolishing it, i think the senate should be apportioned by population. not by state. the misrepresentation of having
two people from these huge areas where no one lives anymore, where the population is declining, is a terrible way to run a government. host: james, i will leave it there. thank you for the call. from "the washington post," elizabeth warren wants to abolish the electoral college. here's how it could happen, sort of. "getting to 270. the compact short of full adoption, provided the states would give the electoral college to those who in the popular vote or go you can read the full story on "the washington post" website. mechanicsville, good morning. caller: thank you for taking my call. i had a few thoughts, something that people in the electoral college as it was originally set the voting founders didn't
trust the commoner to make wise decisions and that they could be easily influenced. i think that's the reason for the electoral college. i think that if you fast-forward to the civil war, it's the populations of the north and the south. if the south had had a majority of people, slavery could easily have been extended much longer simply by the popular vote. finally, i guess somebody did propose a solution. at least it would mitigate things a little bit. instead of a winner take all policy like we have now with the electoral college -- electoral college, my state, new york, there's a definite rift between upstate and downstate. if the electoral vote were meted out county by county -- we have 62 counties in new york state. if for example upstate went for trump and downstate went for
hillary, instead of the winner take all policy, they could apportion the electoral vote according to the county. host: i think you mean congressional district? eveny by county would be more difficult, but allocating it based on who won the congressional district. caller: thank you, i'm sorry. but in any case, that would be more of a democratic process. i think there would be less of a rift over the electoral college. the founding fathers put it in the constitution and they were some of the smartest man in the history of the world and it's an institution that they thought enough of it, so should we. thank you for the call. and our conversation with alan cesar this week, part of our weekly podcast, he indicates it to theast-minute add-on constitution. you can listen to the podcast by downloading the free c-span
radio app. jack, champaign, illinois, independent mine, good morning. caller: making it quick, i don't think it should be abolished. i like the idea of being able to have smaller states have some of the say in the voting power as the large and that larger states. that was it. thank you. host: thank you. the founder of the popular vote project appeared on "washington journal," with his plan. [video clip] >> it gives the states the power to decide how to award their electoral votes, saying that each states will appoint in the manner that the legislature may direct. let's keep in mind that the , them that we have today winner take all laws, that was not debated at the
constitutional convention and it is not in the federalist papers. it was only used by three states in the first election of 1789 by was quickly repealed 1800. is in theand-true way constitution, action by the state legislatures using the powers they have under article two, section one of the constitution. this headline from "the denver post," "the national popular vote, conservatives to overturn it. we will give the electoral college votes to the person who wins the popular vote or co- -- vote." the care, good morning. caller: democrats are cheating and doing what they can to win at all costs. the electoral college is not going to be repealed.
to mark within long enough to understand what's going on. one of the things that he brings up, and i remember this from my history class, the 17th amendment needs to be repealed before -- repealed. before the 17th amendment you had the state legislatures picking the two senators and that's how it should have been. the 17th amendment now allows for a popular vote for the senate and look at the mess we got in the senate right now because of this. so, you democrats, you are going to try and she but it is not going to work this time. we have had it with you people. bye. weekly, "after the mueller storm lifts, the clouds -- the sunshine's on national sunes -- sunshine's -- the shines on the national issues p or phone ron is next.
manchester, good morning. caller: mi on the air? host: you sure are. worth, it two cents may be that if all the states were to apportion their electoral votes according to the folks, instead of a state giving all of their votes to the winner , they should apportion it. maybe this is a good idea, i don't know. to theseing listening folks. you've got some good people talking this morning. host: well we are glad you phoned in. ron, from michigan. this is the outlook section of ."he washington post sam, good morning, you are next. i would just like to say
that when i was watching the election, on all the states -- i seen a mapi or earlier of the blue states and red states that hillary got. but what i saw on the map during the election, it was where the voters were coming from in the districts. they had that in red and blue. thein the blue what you saw states were circling major cities, like los angeles, san diego, and new york. but the entire rest of the united states was red, from the rural communities where the voters were coming from. and so, i mean that tells you right there what they have been democrats, you know, taking over in a small minority taking over. even with almost 3 million votes , it was 3 million of inner cities.
another view, "in defense of the electoral college it is a stabilizing force for democracy, even if you didn't like the results of the last election." you can read that online at .com.ngtonpost after a brief break, "saturday night live" was back last night and this was the opening skit. >> and now robert mueller finishes the report, william the report,zes donald trump tweets a reaction to the summary. [applause] >> dear attorney general barr, officials at the justice department, and esteemed members of congress. .> hey, william barr here you might want to sit down for this one.
guess what,ss what, guess what, daddy is about to freak. these 300 80tting pages. >> i am writing almost four pages. >> i am reading zero pages. [laughter] read it,hannity has but he was so excited that he texted me and a plant. -- eggplant. [laughter] >> we have not drawn a content -- definitive conclusion on obstruction of justice. >> i have. trump, clean as a whistle. >> free at last, free at last. [laughter] >> as for conspiracy and collusion, there were several questionable incidents involving the president's team, but we cannot prove a criminal connection. >> no collusion, no dignity, no bounce. [airhorn] [laughter] host: that -- [laughter]
that from snl last night, the full skin is available on "the saturday night live" website. nato is now 70 years old and we will get the perspective of stephen flanagan and what it means for the u.s. and allies across europe. the partial nuclear meltdown of the reactor in pennsylvania. a reminder, this program follows gerryashington journal." connolly explains why the house continues the investigation into the president, despite the phot -- findings of the mueller report. [video clip] >> we are deeply concerned and have been since the president was inaugurated with details of conflict of interest and the emoluments clause. conflict of interest are not only about financial practices here in the united states, but entanglingout relationships overseas.
these properties in the philippines, the autocratic resident of the philippines was named right after donald trump was elected. his business partner in the philippines was a special envoy. what could go wrong with that? we know that despite what the president said, according to michael, and he continued to pursue the possibility of building a trump tower in moscow during the campaign. he didn't put it on ice, as he said he did. again, could that have influenced how he views vladimir putin? and the statements he made about russia? rejection that he engaged in terms of his own intelligence community? those are all very relevant topics. this isn't some narrow gotcha investigation. this is a much broader look at this picture in trying to fill in lots of blanks. question,a yes or no
if you find that he violated the emoluments clause, is it an impeachable offense? >> yes. it's a different question of how, when, and will congress pursue impeachment if that's the full issue in front of us. it is concerning because emoluments is a matter of the constitution, not a matter of statute. it was written by the founders i think in some ways to deal with situations like the one we face with donald trump. our guest, congressman jerry, lake, on "newsmakers" airing at 10 a.m. eastern time. also on c-span radio. you can listen to it on the freeseas and radio app. we welcome stephen flanagan. they want to focus on nato, but first some background. founded 70 years ago with 29 member countries. the headquarters is brussel.
the process based on unanimous consent and military decisions implemented by oversight in the north atlantic council. as it met expectations. -- has it met expectations? guest: it has shown that it has stood up against aggressiveness. in the 1990's it could adapt. the only time with the collective defense provisions of the north atlantic treaty have
been invoked were in response to the attack on the united states. across the middle east its engaged in many areas to defend nuclear interest. i preface this by saying that the european union is a trade alliance, but as we watch the developments as it continues the brexit process, are there any lessons with regards to nato? host: nato is a -- -- guest: nato is a political and military alliance. consultation for the united states with many key european partners who participate in aspects of nato deliberations. we don't have a seat at the table at the european union and
nato remains an important venue for us to discuss obviously not , but keyissues strategic issues it's an important forum for us. is going to have an impact on the european union. it's not clear the impact it will have on the alliance. there are some that think it will free up certain european assets to support nato missions more robustly. i don't actually think that's the case. the u.k. remains a stalwart ally . it has many challenges in maintaining its current defense capabilities, but is committed to continuing being a strong contributor to the alliance and it doesn't have -- it's not involved in that many european union missions that are going -- going to then be free if brexit doesn't happen as envisioned. with regards that the amount that nato allies pay into the fund, are they paying their fair share, notably?
this has been a key point since the beginning of nato. when president truman announced he would make a commitment to the security of those countries he said he wanted to wait over time to see how they were doing in providing for their own defense, but in any event over the last decade after the end of the cold war there was a 20 year sort of decline in european defense spending that hardly reflected the fact that the threat was greatly diminished. there was no threat from russia or any other major country. there was a concern about terrorism that the europeans and u.s. had, not always with military intelligence and other kinds of police work. , sincee last four years the invasion of the russian seizure of crimea and the invasion of eastern ukraine, allied spending has come up in response to both the perception
that the threat is growing and they need to step up their game, but also in response to political admonition going back really to the george w. bush administration and the obama administration. secretary gates twice was remembered for very robust speeches he gave urging the allies to do more. trump has certainly made this a focal point. it's not a country club. it's not a dues paying organization. the united states provides about 25% of the collective cost. the united states spends 25%. the united states has global commitments. some of those commitments benefit of the europeans. but in terms of what is spent in
defense of europe, it's something less than 5% or 6% according to independent estimates. let me share what the audience is saying with you, they set about brussels last year with regards to the north atlantic treaty organization. [video clip] >> i told people i would be unhappy if they did not up their commitments. the u.s. has been paying a tremendous amount, probably 90% of the cost of nato and now people are going to start, countries are going to start upping their commitments. i was surprised you didn't pick it up, it took till today, but yesterday i let them know i was extremely unhappy with what was happening. and they have substantially upped their commitment, yeah. we we are very happy and have a very powerful, very strong nato. much stronger than it was two days ago. host: explain the reaction among
nato leaders in europe. >> they have committed to stepping up their game. germany not quite as much as the u.k.. germany currently spends about 1.5 percent of gdp but they have the largest gdp in europe and in the world. has committed to moving towards an increase in defense, but not quite at that same level. there is a real concern, though, that the 2% is a measure of input. it isn't an effective -- it's a measure of seriousness of commitment, but not a measure of effectiveness and capabilities. there are other measures that were put forward including making 20% of your defense budget available for innovation to improve your capabilities. one of the things that has been a problem over the last two decades is that the united states has continued to advance and develop sophisticated really -- military technologies where allies have lagged behind and
these with us. yes, it's important for allies to keep meeting that goal. germany is probably unlikely to meet that goal, but if it did meet the goal, for example, it would be spending about as much as russia on defense to give you an idea of magnitude and there not sense of whether or they could spend that money wisely. nevertheless i think that angela merkel is committed to doing it in that direction. host: stephen flanagan is with us, he's with the rand corporation. let's listen to what angela merkel said in a recent interview. "i experienced a part of germany controlled by the soviet union and i am happy today that we are united in freedom as the federal republic of germany. we decide our own policies and make our own decisions, which is very good."
the contention is that nato is dictating their military policies, not germany. host: that was just in -- guest: that was just an effort to suggest that it can't be a demand. the north atlantic treaty itself recognizes that notion, that these are sovereign decisions and states have to make the decision about what they can provide, but there is the expectation that they will take measures to provide for their own defense and contribute to the common defense and germany has certainly done that. afghanistan, the cold war, they had a very robust establishment. it took a real spending pause after the cold war, but they remain an important contributor to the alliance. i hope they will move forward in that direction, but i understand what she was suggesting, implying somehow that the united states should dictate what germany spends on its own defense.
our phone lines are open, (202) 748-8000 is the line for democrats, (202) 748-8001 four republicans. if you are an independent, (202) 748-8002. is there any sense at all that this administration would push to get out of nato? i hope not. there was real concern in europe and the president refused to confirm explicitly that he was committed to the collective defense provision of the north atlantic treaty. he subsequently made a statement with -- in a meeting that he made the commitment. nonetheless there have been reports that there has been a serious discussion within the white house about possibly withdrawing from the alliance if the allies do not increase their , or the senseng that this is too much of a bargain for the europeans, which i think is mistaken.
that has caused a problem in the alliance and the sense that a leading ally, the notion that for the first time, american president is questioning the united states commitment to the defense of our european allies, that caused a crisis in the alliance. it is not over yet and i hope this meeting, the nato foreign ministers will be having this week and the commemoration will put that concern to rest. host: including a hearing, the house foreign affairs committee taking up the 70th anniversary of nato. you can check out our schedule at c-span.org. let's go back to article five of the treaty that says an attack against one nato member shall be considered an attack against all of them. it was first used after 9/11 and has yet to be invoked again. guest: that reflects the success of the alliance.
the alliance has successfully deterred a number of actions and disruptive terrorist attacks over the last 20 years. there is no question that the alliance retains an impressive overall military capability despite the shortcomings of some of our european allies and the -- it dwarfsrt is russia's overall capacity in almost all measures. the alliance has shown it has an effective deterrent. potentialerred any aggression that russia would , that they might try another attack to undermine the security of the baltic states. there were other concerns of some of the kind of confrontation that might take that itt nato has shown has an effective capacity to
deter a broad range of action. host: signed in 1949, the original nato members included belgium, canada, denmark, france, iceland, italy, luxembourg, the netherlands, or trickle, the u.k. and united states -- portugal, the u.k., and the united states. guest: there was a recent invitation that was a long time coming, north macedonia, one of the provinces of former eunice: loss -- former yugoslavia. they agreed after long political negotiations, some of which were facilitated by the united states. macedonia, assuming that the negotiations are finalized and all the member states ratify
an amendment to the treaty, then north macedonia would become the 30th member of the alliance. host: what is the job of the nato secretary-general? guest: he is an international civil servant. he works for all the member countries. he is the convene are of a number of meetings. -- he is the senior international civil servant. he is akin to the secretary-general of the united nations. the member nations are of the deciders but he has an important role in leading the alliance and beginning to play the role that always been envisioned that he is the public face of nato, someone who is empowered to reflect the collective will of the alliance.
many countries outside of nato want to go to brussels and meet with nato and often times that meeting is not with all of the member representatives but with the secretary-general. nato's chieft ambassador for a number of foreign governors -- governments. been has an american secretary-general because it seems to come from similar countries. tradition has been that the supreme military commander is american and the secretary-general is european. with lisa from las vegas stephen flanagan of the rand corporation. that trumpconcern is will pull out of nato. he keeps threatening it and he likes to blow things up. i am concerned because he aligns himself with authoritarian
regimes and then we are going to give nuclear technology to the saudi's. i am horrified. i share your concern and i do hope the president does not move in that direction. there have been signals to the contrary and many people in the whatistration say focus on the actions are, not what the president's tweets are and if you look at the actions, this administration has quadrupled our spending on defense in europe since it came to office. it has not removed but has in fact augmented our military presence in europe. it has continued some of the initiatives begun by the obama administration in 2014 after the seizure of crimea. this includes other exercises, a
number of naval vessels in spain and increased engagement with european allies in being ready to deal with a full range of threats from limited kinds of aggression that might test the alliance's resolve. host: our guest is a former staffer for the national security council and the u.s. senate select committee on intelligence. joe is next from new jersey, republican line. caller: good morning to both of you. stephen i have three questions for you. mentioned that president trump was upset about the commitment of other nations and their defense budgets but realistically, weren't they more --cerned that by making nato that a conflict could happen and that is why the united states went too deep into eastern europe with nato members and --t is the real reason,
guest: i don't actually accept the senior believe military planners and the secretary of defense are fully committed to the defense of our european allies and the increase of our commitment. as far as the decisions nato made to augment the presence in several states in eastern europe that were seen as under the three baltics and poland, the aired states had a small presence and we now have three battalions as part of the so-called enhanced nato forward presence. it is not up to the russia border, and certainly the russians don't like it but it is by no means a presence that could be seen as anything that is going to threaten russia. it is much too small to have offensive capability. question toecond
stephen is, i believe last month or this month, the pentagon ran battleter simulation of -- battle, possibly world war iii where china would hit us in the pacific and russia would hit us in europe. is that true? i am not familiar with that specific game. we at the rand corporation have run a variety of wargames where there has been a challenge, particularly a study published in 2015 which showed that not so much that the united states was incapable of defending the united states but in terms of the defense of the baltics, that it was a difficult military challenge because of the time-distance problem. we don't have that many forces deployed forward as i alluded to , in the baltic states and the russians are very close.
there is no doubt that some of the rand gaming suggests we would need more robust presence there to effectively deter a russian aggression against the baltic states. i am not familiar with that specific wargame you mentioned. host: your final question? caller: the missile thing in poland. is that still going through? guest: yes it is. that is continuing to develop. there is already a site that is operational in romania. with potentiall ballistic missile threats from iran. they are not robust systems despite many claims by the russians that they are somehow the beginning of an effort to try and undermine their deterrent capabilities.
they are far from being capable of making any kind of dent if russia wanted to launch a serious missile attack against europe. host: world war i came to an end in 1935 and then four years later, nato was formed, signed by the secretary state and supported by president truman. [video clip] >> for us, war is not inevitable. we did not believe that there are blind eyes of history which sweep men one way or another. in our own time we have seen brave men overcome obstacles that seemed insurmountable. vision canurage and still determine their own destiny. they can choose slavery or freedom, war or peace. i have no doubt which they will choose. the treaty we are signing today is evidence of the path they
will follow. if there is anything certain today, if there is anything inevitable in the future, it is the will of the people of the world for freedom and peace. [applause] host: stephen flanagan, was the creation of nato a difficult sell? guest: it was in fact. president truman, a number of it wascans felt that time for american troops to come home. made a strong speech, a for ao congress in 1949 fairly large military systems program to help europe recover.
he did say that eventually he was going to look back and see how the europeans were doing and providing for their own defense. that this should not be a perpetual commitment of america providing for the bulk of defense for europe. today, that is not the case as i have tried to outline. europe does quite a bit in its own defense. it is a collective effort. each of the european governments provide all of their initial capabilities and are provided with commitment to reinforcements under various nato plans should they confront a question greater than they can deal with with their own defense capabilities. host: we welcome our viewers on the bbc parliament channel which carries this program on sunday. you can shoot -- you can join in 202-748-8003. good morning mike. caller: good morning.
our question has to do with battle -- my question has to do with our battleships and aircraft carriers. truman is an aircraft carrier that has to be recharged and trump and putin want to not recharge it. we have 12 of these aircraft carriers. does the u.n. plan to take these over under the u.n. flag as we mothball our destroyer groups? if it is mothballed, it would save three and a half million dollars. they may revisit that. guest: i would be surprised if that happens. i think many in congress will be questioning that. i don't know exactly -- it is true that all of our carriers that are nuclear powered have to go back every number of years
reactorcoring of the and it is a very costly process that can take upwards of a couple years. i have not heard of any notion that the u.n. would take over any of these vessels. the u.n. does not have an operational military capability. host: why is brussels the headquarters? guest: it. was not the original headquarters the original was in paris -- it was not the original headquarters. the original was in paris. when general de gaulle hinted that he may withdraw, though the french military still cooperated very closely with nato allies, they did rejoin the military 1990's,e later, in the but at the time when it looked like france might withdraw, it was decided to move to brussels. there was a hospital being built that was not quite ready and
they were able to move in quickly to a bunch of hospital buildings that were repurposed on the outskirts of brussels. now nato has just opened a beautiful new headquarters. it was expensive but a long time coming and the earlier facilities still looked a lot like a hospital that had been repurposed. host: we will go to steve in ohio. my question is around turkey. what happens when we have a situation like what the kurds and turkey, where we have allies on both sides? question is very much a topic that has been a real area of tension between the united states and turkey and other nato allies. turkey abused the kurdish forces
, the so-called -- people's protection unit we have been fighting with as part of the defense forces as an arm of a terrorist group that has been waging an insurgency in turkey over the last four decades. ways totried to find manage this difference with the turks, to show that it is not going to allow, once -- now that isis is defeated, to create a buffer zone so these forces are not arrayed along turkey's southern border because of the fear that they might launch attacks into turkey. the united states has tried to work, there have been a number of plans implemented by this turkishration to allay concerns and make commitments that were -- and keep commitments that were made during the obama administration that they would not leave a situation where turkey might be
threatened by these actors. now negotiations are going on with the turks to see how much the turks could do to provide residual security in northern syria and also help deal with any research and elements of isis. there are many isis fighters while the core of their fighting capability has been destroyed. it is important that we retain some cap ability -- retain some capability. the united states is working with that. u.s. turkish relations are in a difficult place. there is some hope that in the next few months, particularly after the turkish local elections that there might be the prospect of putting them on a better course but i am not sure whether some of the fundamental tensions out there will remain. host: what about u.s.-german
honestns and your assessment of angela merkel and her relationship with president trump on the issue of nato? merkel's relationship with president trump has been strained. of little -- in terms of the relationship between the two governments, i don't think that strain has caused any erosion of our ability to work together with the german government both in defense and foreign affairs. differencesrtant over the aggregation of walking away from the iran nuclear deal. germany was not happy with that, nor were any of the other countries who were the lead in developing that. i don't think i would say that u.s.-german relations are in a bad state. they are not in as good of a state as they could be. i recall back when i worked in
the bush 41 and administration was the relationship enormously close and i think we can hopefully get back to that point because germany remains a vital and key ally and one of allies inapable helping promote growth and international security. host: our next caller from new jersey on our line for independents. caller: good morning. why doesn't somebody tell nato that -- has been dead and has been for decades. east: some of the central european countries that joined nato at the end of the cold war, they did receive foreign assistance under what was called the support for free european democracy act but that funding
ended back in the early 2000's as they began to flourish and make their transition to free-market democracy. host: from your standpoint, do you think the u.s. is getting a financial bargain from nato? are we paying what we should be paying and is it money well spent? guest: we benefit from the overall capacity we have. we would be in afghanistan by ourselves if we did not have allies. it is not clear who would have committed to stay with us these 19 years in that mission. we would have fewer partners in helping combat international terrorism. fewer partners in dealing with russia's more assertive behavior. our allies provide enormous capacity in augmenting our forces. it is not a gift that we provide to them. even after the end of the cold war when there was no threat, our presence in europe, having
two heavy combat brigades, they were frequently deployed to afghanistan and iraq to provide us a jumping off space that was less costly than operating those forces from the united states and the european governments, as do our korean allies and japanese allies, provide offsets to the presence there. i think it is a bargain. host: what is the native secretary-general's background? guest: he was just renewed for two more years, very highly regarded. he has been a most effective representative in helping to shape the agenda and shepherd it through a difficult period in response to increased russian aggression and the turmoil caused initially by some of president trump's comments about the u.s. commitment to nato. host: his reflections on the 70 year anniversary of nato?
[video clip] this year's anniversaries are cause for celebration. at the same time we cannot be complacent. we cannot squander the hard-won gains of those who came before us. they knew that history does not just happen but that it takes courage and conviction to shape our world and defend our values. in 2019, just as in 1949 adapting to nato is a more complex and unpredictable world. the is what has made us most successful alliance in history, faced with the greatest security challenges in a generation. we are increasing the readiness of forces, investing more in collective defense and modernizing our alliance. we are doing more together with
more partners in more places isn ever before and that actually a paradox because what we see now is that questions are raised about the strength of the partnership on both sides of the atlantic. those questions are asked as the same time as we are doing more together than many years. the u.s. is not decreasing its presence in europe but actually troops,ng, with more more exercises, more funding for the u.s. presence and more investments in infrastructure. we are doing more together in , adapting and strengthening the command structure and exercising more and our european allies are stepping up. the reality is that we are strengthening the transatlantic bond and it comes to security
and defense. andre doing more together actions speak louder than words. we see the strength of the we need aust as strong transatlantic bond to respond to a more uncertain world. host: those comments from the former norwegian prime minister, now the nato secretary-general on this, the 70th anniversary of the formation of the nato. roger from new york city, thank you for waiting. ander: i called in 2013 said we are at war with russia and since then, i feel when russia invaded syria, they were covering their southern flank. have felt that their goal is to take over europe. it would appear to me that the generals seem to be holding our
whole -- our positions quite well and that vladimir putin has backed off on his position. guest: i do think you're right. i don't believe russia wants to go to war with europe. i do think they want to try and extend their influence both in europe over the countries that were formally part of the soviet union. said any times that the loss of those countries was the greatest tragedy in russian history. i don't think we are at war with russia. we are in an ongoing struggle, certainly an intense competition but i don't think russia wants to have war. it is using other means, as we have seen all too starkly. they are doing that in spades in countries in central and eastern europe that are much more vulnerable than we are. ferment trying to
unrest. they have been very active in extending their influence and reach by their intervention in syria which gives them an additional foothold in the middle east where they have a base in tarsus. ,ussia is trying to play somewhat above its capacity by acting very nimbly and quickly with limited force to try and in gainings hand influence in the middle east and continuing to keep europe off balance. host: you can follow the work of stephen flanagan on twitter. bill in maryland, good morning. caller: good morning. i will take my answer off the air but i have a simple question. looking at the list of countries that are part of nato and i see montenegro. i just don't believe it is credible that the united states would go to war to defend montenegro since most of us
don't even know exactly where it is on the map. montenegrin is a country that most recently joined the alliance -- montenegro is a country that recently joined the alliance. nato made a commitment at the end of the various wars across kosovo and the baltics that it was important. those countries did not want to devolve into turmoil. they wanted the sense of security addressed by a collective organization and their economies would become more integrated into the wider european economic space. it was a drool -- a dual track effort to provide for security and that security may provide for economic transformation. to take their politics out of looking at each other and to look more at the collective capacity to provide for their own defense. montenegro is certainly a small country. it does not add much to the
overall defense capabilities of the alliance but i do think it is important that the united states holds that and other important commitments. estonia only has a population of 1.1 million but for 50 years, we stood strong in not recognizing the incorporation of estonia and the other baltic countries into the former soviet union. the notion that we would go to defend them today remains very credible because we see it as a collective interest that we cannot allow russia to advance its interests by use of force or to change the borders of europe, having seen what that leads to in world wars before. host: a quick question from florida with stephen flanagan. caller: i am interested in knowing the funding of the rand corporation which has been around for a long time.
i am very impressed with mr. flanagan's responses but i would like to know the funding and purpose of the rand corporation. guest: rand is an independent nonprofit nonpartisan corporation that was founded initially in support of the air force in the late 1940's. it is also celebrating an anniversary. it's funding comes from a variety of sources. it has funding from government notsors, not only to -- only the department of defense but a number of state and local governments and other parts of the federal government. it receives money from private foundations to conduct studies.nt we have offices in cambridge, england, australia.
rand.org website is with more information including the funding. stephen flanagan who serves as the senior political scientist, we appreciate you being with us. it was 40 years ago this month, the worst commercial nuclear disaster in american history. we will spend the next 90 minutes looking back at the events at three mile island, including our guests eric epstein and samuel walker. "washington journal" continues in a moment. ♪ >> get to know the freshman members of the 116th congress, monday on washington journal. learn more about the most diverse group of lawmakers of history. >> i am real, authentic. i am not going to be your politician. >> i am a small town lawyer from
lexington. >> captain of the national guard. >> a mcdonald's franchisee for over two years. >> i have a fascination with this idea of finding answers to questions that nobody else could find. >> it is a new event for me. i have been at physician -- i have been a physician for my entire professional life. >> watched c-span's washington journal at 7:00 eastern every morning. was simply three giant networks and a government supported service called pbs. in 1979, a small network with an unusual name rolled out a big idea, lit viewers decide what was important to them. c-span opened the doors to washington policymaking for all to see giving you unfiltered content from congress and beyond. in the age of power to the people, this was true people power.
the landscape has clearly changed. there is no monolithic media. c-span's big idea is more relevant today than ever. no government money support c-span. it is nonpartisan -- it's nonpartisan coverage is funded by your cable or pro -- cable or satellite provider. c-span is your unfiltered view of government so you can make up your own mind. >> "washington journal" continues. march 28, 1979, the events just outside harrisburg, pennsylvania. the next 90 minutes on washington journal in american history tv, we look back at the three mile island accident which was a partial meltdown of a reactor at the facility in dauphin county, pennsylvania. leeccurred 40 years ago, incident rated a five on the seven point international
nuclear event scale. unfold,tory continue to here is how ed bradley of cbs news covered it. [video clip] >> please stay indoors with your windows closed. >> this is not a community that scares easily. major floods and hurricanes have come here and the town has survived. month,ost a week last the people of middletown, pennsylvania lived in fear of an enemy they could not see, hear or feel. radiation fear was following the partial meltdown at tmi. most seriouse nuclear power accident in the history of the u.s. we will look back at the events that occurred. eric epstein is joining us live, the chair of the three mile
island alert which is what? alert three mile island is an organization founded in 1977, two years before the accident. we are a nuclear watchdog group that monitors susquehanna, three mile island and peach bottom. host: you were there 40 years ago. what do you remember, both when the news first broke and as the story continued to unfold? interesting, you covered mr. bradley's comments and we had a bifurcated response from our family. we had a family furniture store and we had a door that survived three floods, a fire and. we were hunkered down. we delivered a dine -- and we were hunkered down. we delivered a dinette after evacuation. like a lot of folks, it was
confusion, anxiety, chaos. the company was providing disinformation as you could tell by the governor's comments on thursday, the day after the accident. friday, they issued a per cautionary evacuation. approximately 140 4000 people evacuated from about as far as 50 miles. at the time we were not prepared for an evacuation. i am not sure we could do one now. the relocation centers were outside the 10 mile zone. when you declare an evacuation, people leave. they left and a lot of people left not knowing if they were coming back. it was a psychic terror. because this is an agricultural community, a lot of people stayed to take care of livestock and animals.
a lot of people were conflicted. this was not the age of the 24/7 new cycle. the big issue was a black trust and what made it even more --ficult and confusing was folks did not have a baseline knowledge of nuclear power. thatdnesday, we learned 40% of the core melted. we did not know the damage until 1982 when amateurs reached 4800 degrees but we had two phases of the accident. and folks two prongs had to respond based on little to no knowledge and the company did not help. they intentionally misled the governor as to the severity of the accident.
host: we heard from that cbs report, keep your windows shut. with that have made any difference at that time -- would that have made any difference at that time? guest: ed bradley captured the uncertainty and unpreparedness of the company, the government and the community. i interviewed people who were told to go home. they were kids in elementary school with a book over their head, and hold their breath. these per cautionary instructions we got would have little to no impact on mitigating the effects of radiation exposure. evacuation the accord, it was an unreasonably warm day. you just had chaos. some people had kids in elementary, middle and high school, picking up kids, getting gas, not knowing if they are coming back.
the community suffered from chronic elevated psychological stress. you can see the cooling towers behind us are haunting. from march 28 79 until 85, it was shut down for refueling. that plant was shut down and there was a fierce battle about whether or not we should start the plant -- restart the plant. people's responses were confused and it was not helped by the fact that the company misled the governor. the accident began on wednesday with evacuation on friday. president carter came on sunday. people but a lot of the real hero was the mayor who stayed behind. he is still here. common people had uncommon courage during that time and i think this community is no exception. here, we areved
not going anywhere. we survived floods and fires. unfortunately a core meltdown is not something you expect to have to survive. unit two was de-fueled. it has not been decommissioned or decontaminated. this plant was supposed to operate for 40 years. we still have a high level radioactive waste site that may never be cleaned up. in a sense the accident still continues. host: our guest is eric epstein, chair of the three mile island alert. we are dividing our phone lines regionally. -- if you'resident a resident of the area in pennsylvania, you can call (202)-748-8002. what happened 40 years ago? guest: i don't know if you want to call it an accident. an accident is when a deer runs in front of a truck and gets hit. -- indicated on the
channels that it had closed when it had not closed. thousands of gallons of water were lost and it was not until there was a shift change that the valve was closed. we found out through the department of energy that temperatures were about 4800 degrees which was significant and a core melt accident which led to the fuel rods being exposed and interacting with oxygen creates hydrogen. that created the hydrogen bubble scare. a lot of us did not know what that meant. we did not have a baseline knowledge of nuclear. it was a fair of the unknown, china syndrome the background. governor ande commissioner agreed to do a per cautionary evacuation. the hydrogen bubble issue
gradually receded and the plant was put into a cold shut down. happenede things that was a loss of trust. this is a very conservative republican bible belt area. i was one of the people that thought this was a great thing, a magical technology. this was the future. it was hard to believe that not , but we wereail misled. once you lose people's trust in this area, it is hard to get it back. host: let's get our phone calls. virginia.ning us from caller: good morning. i appreciate c-span having this piece. note that while three mile island was absolutely , no substantial
fission products were released to the environment. it was all contained as designed. the radiation levels were minor to almost nothing in the general area around the plant. no one was hurt. no bad health effects occurred. test of the design to absolutely mitigate and contain the worst-case accident. host: we will get a response. guest: that is an absurd assertion based on bad science. that was breached could have been anticipated. iny had a similar incident 1978, a valve had failed. it had a 10% failure rate. the man is misinformed.
clogged, monitors could only absorb low-level amounts of radiation. if you look at the dose inventory, the amount of radiation released which is still controversial because we did not have exact measurements, looking at anywhere from 10 million to 20 million curies . the health study last year found increased thyroid cancer. the facts on the ground demonstrate that people were harmed by three mile island. at least four different surveys of people who lived in the nexus of the pathway of radiation exposure, they reported the same thing. folks around here don't lie. nausea, taste, vomiting, all consistent with exposure to radiation. to date has not change
released. of curies if no one was hurt you would have to ask the company why they of $100claims upwards million. three mile island is an increase -- is an interesting island. it is 2.2 miles. we're the closest nuclear power plant to an airport. you can't fly over disneyland but it is ok to fly over three mile island. we are about 12 miles from the capital but we are very close to the amish. isyou go to the east, it difficult to contact people who don't have a phone to evacuate. to the west is york county. this was going to be an energy park. you had three mile island behind us, bruner island to the west, a
small hydro dam. us, ammunity across from future,- this is the this was great and it is great waterskiing and fishing. i was pro-nuclear and things change. heartland of conservative republican bible belt pennsylvania. host: let's go to andy from north carolina. caller: good morning. question, i have a comment to make about your 30 day call in rule. i have a bone to pick with you. you have a caller who calls and from north charleston, south carolina and i know you know who he is. you guys chat it up.
he has a very distinctive voice and he called in january 18, february 5, march the second. he has called four times in 66 days. i have left comments on your comment line at least two times for sure because i recognize his voice. is.ow you know who he host: julie noted. we will do a -- duly noted. we will do a better job to make sure he does not come in. guest: i think he needs to be banned -- caller: i think he needs to be banned. old whenrned 24 years three mile island happened. since it is so close to hershey, i have heard that it is not safe to buy chocolate made in that area because of the fallout. host: thank you. guest: that is a good question.
area wherehis is an people came to visit. we are right next to the amish, lancaster county. people came here for hershey and the gettysburg battlefield. we were within a whip of losing all of that. this was a place you wanted to go to. after the accident we became a pariah. this was a place you wanted to avoid. hershey is interesting because -- they froze their chocolate for about 90 days and then used it again. that was one of the pushback she got after the accident was that tourism went down. you still have hershey park, you still have hershey chocolate. they did purchase milk and froze it and used it later.
being born and raised here, i love living here. i feel fortunate to live so close to hershey and encourage people to come here and i know to a certain degree, there is a certain amount of dark tourism of people who want to snap pictures of tmi. i still think hershey chocolate is a superior product. host: we will go to a caller in the lancaster area. caller: all i can november is -- father was clutching his coin collection. i thought he was going to pass out. i lost two classmates and they theythat they believe that lived in bainbridge, downwind and they died from cancer and they think it was due to tmi.
-- i guessemembers they took a barge across. my father was born in 1916. i don't know if they would take a tractor but he said it was a cornfield. islandcalled three mile because it is three miles from the center of middletown. before. have heard that three mile island had a host of names and we are stuck with three mile island but she raises a good issue. one of the things i would encourage people to do is go to the tmi survivor facebook. they discuss the experiences and health effects they have.
-- fourdone for surveys , if anybody is interested we are still doing surveys. you can get them online at tmia .org. there has been a significant uptick in thyroid cancer and that is why hershey medical conducted a study last year that indicated an increase in thyroid cancer for folks near three mile island. they will continue to look at it. unfortunately three mile island has no health or cancer registry for the workers unlike the department of defense. the commonwealth of pennsylvania no longer attracts the incident so it is up to citizens and i would encourage people to go to the facebook page or our webpage. we have a press packet for the 40th anniversary.
host: eric epstein, you mentioned the film the china syndrome which was released a couple weeks before the three mile island accident. here is a trailer from that movie. [video clip] >> the china syndrome. people, people who lie and people faced with the agony of telling the truth. wells, ake kimberly television reporter pay to smile, not to think. >> a few words about a veterinarian who makes house calls. >> richard adams, a cameraman who never learned how to play by the rules. >> get that radiation all over that cute little body. >> jack caddell, an engineer who knows too much to tell the truth. >> anything that man ever does, that is why we have what we call defense in depth. >> and cares too much to lie.
it will start with a tremor any nuclear power plant. where it will end depend on three people. >> i would say you are lucky to be alive, the same for the rest of southern california. >> jane fonda. >> you did not get this job because of your investigative abilities. >> jack lemmon. >> there was a vibration. >> michael douglas. >> accident is not the right word. host: that trailer from the china syndrome. put that into perspective. guest: the one quote i would extract from that is the quote that said safety in death. redundancy systems. seen a large scaling back of -- when they inserted what is known as the reactive oversight
process. training has improved but i think we are falling back to where we were in 79. i seet thing safety, older aging plans that are not working as well, that are not staffed to the levels they need to be. refueling outages that used to be 12 months are now 18. that issue sometimes -- the other thing that was chilling about the china syndrome is the spokesperson was eerily reminiscent of the spokesperson for metropolitan -- which only compounded the fear and exciting. as the story continue to unfold in middletown pennsylvania, barbara joining us in new jersey. good morning. argue with us? -- are you with us? we will try one more time. we lost that call. at how the back
story unfolded. what were people telling you? were they telling you in the spring and summer? guest: people that opposed nuclear power at the time were marginalized and on the fringe. volunteering -- a lot of the information that hard,t, back then, it was you had rotary phones, it was difficult to communicate. people were basically observing what workers were doing. if workers were sending their families away, they went away. if you were focused on the information you were getting from the company, you were confused. you had no idea what was going on.
people had to get information on the run. there were some people up until recently that still had high executive levels -- high executive levels -- hi anxiety -- high anxiety levels. i am not sure that good information always gets vetted properly or filtered properly. a difficult time in terms of communication. not many scientists or environmental reporters. the new york times people came in with different skill sets but initially, folks in the media trying to get information really did not have the background that would have been helpful. host: is the plant in any way operational today? guest: unit two has a possession only license. it will never operate again.
the problem is it is in what is post fuel monitored storage. it is abandoned. we extracted most of the fuel in 98. that fuel was loaded and taken to illinois or idaho. thereoblem with tmi 2, was no decommissioning fund. we had them but -- we had to bail them out. build. $700 million to the people in this area have spent $3 billion to build a plant that only operated 90 days. people never really got the energy. the people that owned and operated the company were based in pittsburgh and new jersey. tmi 2 is not going to operate again. i don't know if it is going to be decommissioned but we have not had a human in the basement in 40 years. scenario.t
sincehas been operating 71. lost $300 million in the last five years. when thisier point, plant was sold in 99, we had 800 four employees and we are down to 520. we will transition one way or another. i think most of the people there at unit one will work on decommissioning but folks need to know that an accident that over in 79 may not be until the 22nd century. host: ron in san antonio, texas. good morning. caller: hi eric. thank you for all of the information. it just seems like yesterday. a quick question on decommissioning. how much is that going to cost? is there any nrc plan to
actually do that? the nrc offers three options. the immediate decommissioning which is a protocol the industry is doing now. i am a little concerned about that because a third party comes on site. the other is where they store it for up to 90 years and that is where tmi is. the other option is entombment where you in tomb the reactor -- entomb the reactor. estimated that it will be $1.2 million to clean the plant up. paid tors build -- build the plant, to fuel the plant and to decommission the plant. tmi has a decommissioning fund. both plans are cost -- are estimated to cost about $1 billion.
, i don't know and it is a bizarre history. a fourth wayo find to decommission the plant. it is owned by a different company. this is really a bizarre scenario where one plant may be decommissioned and this one may not be. owned by two different owners. employees,has 520 this one has zero. host: our last caller from philadelphia. caller: i am originally from pittsburgh and i have been to that area a few times. i talked to a woman who said they nearly averted an accident there that made the local papers. i am wondering how often these near misses.
your guest has been excellent in talking about the history but he mentioned something about a steam release system and with that contribute to near accidents and what are they doing to keep track? host: i should point out we have been looking at the scene beat -- steam behind you. that is the steam being released correct? unit two,you look at you will see the bottom has been dismantled because it caught fire three or four times in the 90's. a cooling tower is basically a nesting ground for swallows. a high-level radioactive waste site, unit one has 12 hundred metric tons of high-level radioactive waste. .his is one of the last plants plants were power not designed to be high level radioactive waste sites. this is a waste product with no
forwarding address that has to be monitored for at least 500 years. when you talk about cleaning up a nuclear power about cleaning p a nuclear power plant, this is a pau situation where a stay on hands to for 500 years. even if this plant shuts down, it will not be 2020 until we conducted dry tests and start moving from the spent fuel pools. i will take the time's a, folks, if you live near a nuclear reactor, what we should do is find way to get rid of the nuclear waste. i do not know anybody who will leave a toilet and a front yard and will say hey, i will come back 40 or 50 years later. the toilet is here, the yard is here, the waste is here. where is it going to go? host: chairman of the three mile
island alert, thank you for being with us. you are watching c-span. we will continue our look at three mile island. it has been 40 years ago this month. coming up in a moment, samuel walker, author of the book "three mile island: a nuclear crisis in historical perspective ." we will be looking at the events of 1979. later, edwin lyman is with us, nuclear safety project at union of concerned scientists your first, we will look at how walter cronkite cover the events in 1979. [video clip] walter: it was a nuclear step. government official said a plant is of metalli at an atomc the worst reaction today.
nuclear safety group said radiation inside the plant is at eight times the deadly level, so strong that after passing through a three-foot thick concrete wall, it can be measured in miles away. gary reports from harrisburg. gary: the accident occurred here at the three mile island nuclear power plant a dozen miles south of harrisburg. two water pumps that help to cool shutdown. officials say something 2000 some 50,000 gallons escaped, steam escape into the atmosphere, and radiation was effective at least a mile away. at least 50 workers, and perhaps twice that number, were at the plant when the accident occurred. a spokesman admitted some may have been exposed and may have been contaminated, but he claims no one was injured. all were given extensive checks
with geiger counters. reporters were not admitted into the facility today, but this is what the control room looked like last september when it was undergoing testing. it went into commercial service only three months ago. cbs news coverage in march of 1979, a live view of the mile island. joining us in our studios is samuel walker, the author of "three mile island: a nuclear crisis in historical perspective ." thank you for being with us. guest: thank you. it is nice to be here. host: walk us through the timeline of these events as they unfolded. guest: wednesday, march 28, 1979, things are going routinely. it was midnight shift, the shot shift, and shut-eye suddenly at 4:20 a.m. in the morning on wednesday, there was a cut off to the speed loader of what was called the secondary system, which raised the pressure, which caused, according to design, a valve to
open, a pressure-operated and when that opens, it opened so it would relieve the pressure that had built up in the reactor, and that was according to design, so things were going fine about up until that point. the valve was open 10 seconds or so. it should have closed, and it did not. the result of that valve not stickingthe valve open, water started to rush out, the cooling water used to maintain the temperature of the water in the reactor, started to watch out, and within a fairly short time, you had all the makings of the worst incident, the worst kind of accident you can have in a nuclear power plant, a loss of coolant accident. the control room, the alarms were going off, 100
lights in the control panel or blinking, so operators knew that something was happening that was not good, but they did not know exactly what it was. one of the lessons learned from the accident is that you did not have any instrument on a huge control panel that showed the plant was showing a loss of coolant accident. there was no instrument like a gas gauge on a car that showed that water was evacuating from the cooler, so it was not clear to the operators that they were facing a loss of coolant accident. according to design some of the emergency court cooling system came on, but the operators were more concerned about the pressurized, which is an important feature of pressurized water plants, too much water in the pressurize r. and that is what they were trained carefully to avoid, and they were more concerned about the possibility of going solid
than they were about a loss of coolant, so they shut off the emergency cooling systems. was shute pumps completely. the other was close enough to stop the cooling water flowing to a trickle. within a couple of hours, the fuel rods were badly damaged, and within a couple of hours after the valve stuck open, you had a major lost coolant accident, and we found out much later you had a meltdown. of march 20orning 8, 1979, had a massive core meltdown. carter visited later. he was a nuclear physicist, had trained at the nuclear academy, and visited on a carrier. you are from this part of the state and your brother served in the house of representatives elected just years before. guest: yes and yes.
yes, i am from the area, so i a great deal of empathy for the area, and i still do. was onnt carter's visit sunday, five days after the accident occurred, and his visit was extremely important in reassuring the population that things were not in terrible shape. hat pointew that t that the plant had suffered a meltdown, but his visit was important in letting people of pennsylvania know that tongs would be ok and exaggerate the confidence that people felt on that morning about things being under control, but the fact that he would come there, visit the plant, and go into the control room was a major reassurance for people of the area that things, if they were not under control, would be taken care of mother was he would not have shown up. host: here is what president
carter sent back in 1979, a few days after the accident occurred. [video clip] the president came to the plant for one very simple reason, to assure the people that if the president of the united states and the governor of pennsylvania were standing there together, right at the plant site, that obviously there was no reason to believe that the whole thing was going to blow up any minute. obviously that would reassure the population that we are going to have plenty of advance warning if we have to get out of here. >> and back to middletown, the localent praised officials, and then without actually using the word, refer to what everyone here has been thinking about for days -- evacuation. i would like to say to people who live around the three mile island plant that does become necessary, your governor, governor thornburgh,
will ask you and other dignitaries to take appropriate action to ensure your safety. if he does, i want to be sure that these instructions are carried out calmly, as they have been done in the past few days. host: that is coverage of the events that happened 40 years ago. could it happen today? guest: we learned a lot from the accident at three mile island. the major lesson that was learned is that not enough attention had been paid to what recalled human factors, as a cause of a nuclear plant accident. what we learned after three mile island is that the operators should have been trained better. we also learned by the instrument panel had to be redesigned so they can provide useful information, which the operators were not getting as the accident precedent. we also learned that we had to be a lot more attention to emergency planning. and we also learn that we have
to, we being the country, we too learned that we have concentrate more on plant management, because too many utilities that owned nuclear asnts at that time saw it just another way to boil water and did not really pay much attention to what needs to be done to make sure plants were sa fe. not mean that an accident is out of the question, but it does mean that it is much less likely that it was 40 years ago. host: if you're from dr. county or from the area around three mile island, we encourage your dissipation. for those in the area, (202) 748-8002. let's go to dave joining us from armstrong creek, wisconsin. caller: thanks for taking my call. if the design of this plan is fukushima,the one in japan, and also, to my
understanding, these facilities were basically uninsurable, too expensive to insure, so the government has to backup if there is an accident. and i correct in those assumptions? host: thank you. we will get a response. your firstanswer to question is the design of three mile island with different than the design of fukushima, and a lot of questions have been raised about that. but the basic problem at fukushima, as i understand it, siting of the plant in a very poor place, and people have asked why would you site powerplant so close to the ocean? so in that case, what happened at fukushima is quite different than three mile island. in terms of ensuring the clive anderson act, which was passed
early in the history of nuclear power, was passed, was to make sure that there was enough coverage for people if there was a major accident at a nuclear power land, and is simply turned out that there were not any insurance company is that had r enoughonfidence o orse-case insure a w nuclear power plant. so, if you 1987 or have a major nuclear power accident, if you have a major release of radiation, the costs of injuries and lies to be much anyer than the ability of insurance company to cover. and that is why the government offered liability insurance for which owners of power plants had to pay in.
so that is right, the government did step in and stepped in both as a way to reassure people and to help to stimulate the growth of the nuclear power industry, which was viewed as in important national objective at that time, but also to protect people who might be affected by a nuclear power accident. host: we were in the area recently. we were able to get some drone aerial footage to give you a perspective of what it looks like. ken is joining us from ohio. good morning. caller: good morning. , gentlemen. well, i was teaching science at the time that three mile island happened, and i heard your guest talk about the human element being something, and of course the human element has not changed a whole lot in 40 years. i was wondering if he could hold forth a little bit on the need, personu have the ucs coming up soon, i believe their nuclears neutrality on
power plants according to design, and i was wondering if you could talk a little bit iout what design elements, know the plans are very expensive, which is why probably they are not being built at the moment, but i believe, is that a french design or design for smaller nuclear plants, which reduce the possibility of, i suppose, a major accident. talk about that and any other changes we would see other than obvious he a warning light for the loss of coolant or something like that. host: ken, thank you. guest: yes, there are lots of new designs, some that have been tested experimentally, and some that are still on the drawing boards. i do not know much about them. the original designs, and plants operating now, are based on early designs from the 1950's for submarines, so it is very possible that new designs could
be put into place that that would be safer, that it would create less radioactive waste, and it would have major advantages over the current designs. i do not think there will be , other than the four or five that are being built right now, of print design, so if we want nuclear power to be part of our energy mix, i think we will have to find new designs and test them and make sure they were, as they should. brother, robert walker, has just begun his second term in the house of representatives, and he is from central pennsylvania. thet: yes, he is from district where the boundary is just south of three mile island, and he spent a lot of time in middletown and the area. the acute days, of crisis, there were five days after the accident occurred where nobody knew what was happening, and it was great concern, understandable anxiety
on the part of the people of central pennsylvania but also our hosting makers, officials, and in the government, both the state and the federal government, and one of those officials with my brother, bob, and he was up there every day trying to find out what was going on and what the risks were and what the challenges were if there was going to be major release of radiation. he lived in east petersburg, which is in a 20-mile radius, and he found out later that his neighbors were watching him at his house -- they have their cars packed, and they were all ready to go, and they thought if he and his wife left suddenly, that they were going, too. it did not turn out that way, but at least that was their way of preparing for the accident, was to make sure that they were ready to go, their cars were gassed up, they were packed up, and if he left, they were going, too. host: and you look a lot like
your brother. sharing a picture of him. we will share that with our audience. guest: [laughs] host: we will go to aubrey. good morning. caller: hi. my name is aubrey, and i live in the harrisburg area, what is called tmi. my parents urgently called the school, removed me from elementary school, and we packed up and headed to pittsburgh, where we are from. most of my siblings have sickle cell anemia and after the event ironically experienced bone marrow suppression, so we've not havinso neither of them had enoh to last more than a week or two with regard to their condition. i always had a question with radiation or radiation in the air, if you want to turn it it that. term
what should we be discussing from the immediate effects? lens of arough the scientist but also the mass casualties, whether the bombing in japan or chernobyl. what is it we have ever been able to discern with regard to immediate effects, and specifically with bone marrow suppression, specifically sickle cell anemia, or anyone, for that matter, has been a likely sort of effective what ca happened. host: before we get a response, how are they today? guest: my sister is deceased, unfortunately. that happened in 1988. my brother is alive, living in harrisburg. address thee general question first, and that is the amount of radiation that were released. it is certainly true that there were not a lot of monitors on
the morning of march 28 come of the day of the accident, the utility that operated the plant, metropolitan edison, had 20 surroundingnitors the plant to come i think i'm out about 12 miles, and that was enough to be sure how much radiation escaped, but it is largerue that if amounts of radiation had escaped from the plant, it would have shown up. after the first day of the accident, there was -- there were helicopters that took part, energy was operating, the trace the plume, there were theurements being done by eva, the fda, by the state of pennsylvania, and if radiation and large amounts escape, it would have shown up in , ifstuffs, in the water large amounts of iodine 131, it would have shown up in milk. so you cannot hide radiation.
if there are large amounts, they would have shown up. thatpidemiological studies have been done, there is controversy, and there is some conflict, but the best of those studies, the study that has the best data, that has the best base for understanding what happened in terms of illness of studied ation, uh, cohort of more than 32,000 residents who lived around the plant within a five-mile radius, studied them for a period of 20 years. and in those cases, those 32,000 people had been interviewed by the state department of health for previous exposure of radiation, where they were during the accident. so it was a really split database, and that study has cancer orncrease in
above normal rates. and i'm sorry that i cannot address your specific question, and i am sorry for the illness of your family. there is no guarantee, and we would never know exactly what causes those kinds of illnesses. the chances that it came from radiation that escaped from the plant are unlikely. host: our guest is samuel walker, a former historian for the u.s. nuclear regulatory commission. he is also author of the book "three mile island: a nuclear crisis in historical perspective ." walt is joining us from pittsburgh. good morning. caller: good morning. yes, i was in ohio in 2002. it is not just the accident, it is the greed involved. one out there caused a huge blackout, and what happens is we have brownouts here and there, a largee shut down area, that is the greed of the plant manager and the people
involved trying to make themselves look good. the other one up in ohio was the nuclear plant, the same company. they were not doing anything. they waited until the last minute. fortunately, there was not a lot of damage done. 220 $50 million. the guy running the plant getting the same stuff and not getting it fixed, that is what i steeleen, and i worked in mills. i would rather work in a nuclear plant than a steel mill. 1970's,lls back in the 1980's, and 1990's are way more dangerous than a nuclear plant. host: thanks for the call. guest: there still are problems, and that is why we need strong regulation, and the industry is doing a much better job, a much stronger job of regulating itself, especially company management.
but we also learned that we have to be humble, because nuclear plants are large, and they are complicated, and they are hazardous, so we have to live with that. there is no guarantee, and there was never any guarantee, even back in the early 1950's when the nuclear power industry was first getting. no one was saying, at least no one in a responsible position, was saying an accident is impossible. they were saying it was unlikely. but no one in their right mind was saying you cannot have an accident. times, less recent than 40 years, i am a historian, so anything less than 40 years is recent times for me, things still go wrong. host: we welcome our viewers on american history to become a 48 hours of history every weekend on c-span3. the fullheck out
schedule on her website. let's go to robert in las vegas. good morning. caller: good morning. , gentlemen. mr. walker, i look forward to reading your book. what a who went to this. i was with jim nelson and michael douglas. we made the movie "the china syndrome." are you familiar with that movie? guest: oh, yes, yes. i start my book with that movie. [laughs] what a terrible coincidence. the movie, when we released that, three days after it was released, the nuclear physicist was on television. he said the chances that we were thinking in that movie was one and 100 million or more. a total of 10 days, we heard about what was going on there. all nuclear power
plants all over the world, and now we are trying to deal with here inhe waste, like nevada, if you are familiar with where they are trying to do about that. host: hey, robert, let me jump in really quickly. explain specifically in your role or involvement in the film "the china syndrome." did all of the research on nuclear power plants, and to be honest with you, i think they should be shut down and just go to other kinds of all, because ,here is never a catastrophe like in japan, with all of the radiation and the weather and the fish that became sick. it is just, to me, we have got so many other ways to go.
one to say,am not but it would be a lot safer -- now, i noticed on the screen you are showing "the china syndrome ." hello,st wanted to say and i appreciate the fact that you are on here discussing it therehe people, because is a serious -- look at chernobyl, and when that happened, horrible, too, so that is all it wanted to say, and i appreciate you, gentlemen, bringing all of these facts to the public. host: robert, thanks for adding your voice, again, going back to that film that came out a week and a half before. guest: it came out a week and a half before, and it it was still being shown into the errors in the harrisburg area, and they put on extra showings on friday
and saturday nights, which were the most tense days, anxiety-filled days in the five days of crisis after the accident occurred. on those two nights, the two theaters in harrisburg on extra showings of "the china syndrome ," and apparently the theaters were packed for those extra showings. host: let's go to linda and minneapolis. linda, go ahead. caller: good morning. i have a couple of questions. i think they are pretty quick to answer -- maybe. the first one, and perhaps the most important, for the more important one, is -- i wondered if there was any information about how this problem of nuclear waste can be safely solved. i mean, is this in solvable, unsolvable, solvable? i mean, it seems like it never goes away.
what to do with the waste. and then the second one, that is connected to it, what is the status of the hannaford plant in east washington? host: thank you, linda, we will get a response. guest: those are great questions. i did write a book after radioactive waste sometime after my book on three mile island, and the information is in there. it was all handled by the commission, the nrc's and the scientists, these are good scientists, they that there is a technical solution. it is reasonable. you will never get a solution that satisfies everybody, but the political equation or the political problem might be, it more solvable than the technical issues. hanford is still undergoing a large cleanup. the hanford plants, the aec and
its succesiv agencies, at least for a long timee -- its success of agencies, at least for a long time, did not handle hazardous as well as it should have. it is being cleaned up. i do not know what the status of it is now. it is better than it was 25 years ago, and it still have a long way to go. host: joslin from arizona, good morning. you're on with sam walker. walker.hi, mr. i want to know if they lack of hadr in the reactor anything to do with the problem. host: thank you. water? if the lack of water had anything to do with the reactor itself. guest: the lack of water had a lot to do with the fact that the water melted down. what it does is to keep the water cooled.
at least the pressurized water reactor is 600 degrees. and if you lose the coolest, then you have a problem, and that is exactly what happened when that valve stuck open. of anything else having to do with the water, no, i do not think so. feed water,lot to and that was the initial event that caused the valve to open, which then did not close. host: this plant was brand-new. guest: it operated for a total of about three months. host: and so the lesson from that is? guest: the lesson from that is build it right. [laughs] were lots know, there of questions raised, and there were a lot of investigations done after the accident occurred, both by the nrc, by the presidential commission, by the state's pennsylvania, by congress, and lots of other people, and they say why was
this plant licensed? were there things that were not clear? and those were valid questions because the utility, it turned out, was not well equipped to operate that plant. but according to all of the licensing parameters, it meant those standards, and that accident came as a huge shock to everybody, because it did meet standards, and yet you did have a major, major accident. host: the book is titled "three mile island: a nuclear crisis in historical perspective." our guest, samuel walker, former historian for the u.s. nuclear regulatory commission. thank you for joining us, and our best to your brother. guest: thank you. host: if we continue our look back 40 years on the crisis at three mile island, he is the acting director of the nuclear safety project at the union of concerned scientists. he is also the author of
the book "fukushima: the story of a nuclear disaster." we have also been talking about the china disaster, and "saturday night live" taking aim at that. we want to show that with you. [video clip] [beeping] [phone ringing] >> right, right. hey come up with that stuff away, the president is is coming. >> right. >> this is the main control room, mr. president. [laughter] i am familiar with nuclear facilities. you know i am a nuclear engineer. >> and a damn good one. >> thank you, sweetheart. tell me what happened. >> this was the chief engineer when the "surprise" occurred. >> ok, chief, tell me what happened. >> the pressure was critical in
pump number two and the negative function in the control panel prevented us from preventing the minor explosion, which occurred in the main house. >> it sounds to me like a pepsi syndrome. were there any soft drinks in the control room? >> ok, you got me. are too smart for me to it spilled a large coke in the control panel. >> there you are, mr. president. >> all right, jimmy, you figured it out. let's get out of here, please. >> just a couple more, sweetheart. i don't get to do this everyday. right now, what is the level of containment for the vessel? >> we don't know. out alle coke knocked of our monitoring systems, and we have not been able to go into the room. >> i would like to check it out. i have never seen the coolant to a reactor.
>> mr. president, it may be dangerous in there. >> oh, jimmy, why don't we go visit the hershey factory? >> please, i think i know how to handle myself in a nuclear facility. besides, i am protected. i have my yellow boots on. courtesy of nbc outside three mile island, harrisburg, pennsylvania, in the central part of the state your joining us in the studio's edwin lyman, author of "fukushima: the story of a nuclear disaster." he is also the nuclear safety director at the union of concerned scientists. we have had a couple of calls about the regime appeared happier been any lessons from tmi and fukushima? guest: yes. we've found that there were lessons that should have been learned at three mile island that were not, and as a result, that made accidents like mishima more possible.
host: how so? guest: after three mile island, there were hundreds of recommendations about how to improve nuclear safety. do a comprehensive review of all the safety vulnerabilities, and then act to close those vulnerabilities. but then it became too timid, so there were certain accidents that happened at fukushima, which was a complete loss of electrical power. they did not take the steps to make sure that the plants would be able to deal with that appropriately, and japan, like other reactors, operators already the world will what happened at three mile island and change their own policy, so they did follow the lead of the united states. nucleart's look at
power in the united states, because there are nearly 100 power plants operational across the country. how significant is it in terms of our overall source of energy and electricity? guest: it is roughly 20% of the in the united states, and nuclear power is a traditionally low carbon energy source. host: people have talked about nuclear power as a way to deal with climate change. . draw the connection guest: certainly nuclear can play a role in mitigating climate nuclear energy has its own peculiar risks, asked three mile island and fukushima have shown us. and you have to expect those just rushause if you headlong into an expansion and nuclear power in the world without an understanding of trying to reduce them, then we thosee risk of repeating
accidents and maybe making nuclear power completely untenable. host: in layman's terms, can you explain how nuclear power is generated? what is the process? guest: as mr. walker said, it is a fancy way of boiling water. it is based on the property of nuclear fission, so certain s, nuclear rise datums are unstable, and they can split and release energy. so the power plant is harnessing this nuclear fission process by trying to do in a controllable and sustainable matter. lessons from tmi some 40 years later, are they building new plants and applying those lessons?are we using completely different technology? guest: in the united states the mother are only two nuclear plants under construction, and those have an evolutionary
variants on whitewater technology, so there are similarities to reactors like tmi but also some differences, and those differences have not costn to be a significant savings that the utilities originally thought they would be. host: what is fukushima like today? guest: well, the site is still a mess. there were three reactors that melted down. the course actually melted through the reactive vessels, and like what happened at tmi, there were hydrogen explosions, which led to, accelerated the dispersal rate of activity. they have contaminated water that is accumulating at a very rapid rate everyday. they have to keep pouring water into those damaged core tos keep them cool, but that is making the water radioactive itself, to there is no where dispose of it, so they are building more and more tanks. they have a commission decades
long and the surrounding area still is contaminated with radioactive isotype's. leastterminants are at $200 billion of economic damages for the cleanup. host: $200 billion? guest: that is right, and that is probably an underestimate. host: if you live in pennsylvania, (202) 748-8002. edwin lyman is our guest. robert is in port charlotte, florida. good morning. caller: good morning. how are you all doing? very valid points brought up by everybody. aspectthe load causing also. i was a nuclear inspector in the department of defense on our submarines and aircraft ensured that we there were redundancies, and there were lessons learned from three mile island that are very applicable. as an christian bernard's first
heart transplant, he was back in 18 days, but he is a miracle, right? so redundant systems have been built into it since we have learned from three mile island, and do not forget, every one of well, notout there -- everyone, but most of them, most of them are nuclear powered. host: thank you for the call. guest: it is true that redundancy is a very important factor in nuclear power safety. adversity and redundancy. if you have a failure of one system, you have a backup you can rely on, but unfortunately, that cost extra money, and today, the industry is under financial pressure to try to cut costs, and part of that is the backup in redundancy, and that is motivated by a that anncy or a belief accident like tmi or fukushima is very unlikely to happen again
, and why spend a lot of money paying for extra systems that we may never need? that is, i think, one of the problems going forward. host: our guest currently with the union of concerned scientists and a former president of the nuclear control its a instituted here in washington, d.c. in mount vernon. thank you for waiting. caller: you are welcome. thank you for the show. are there other elements that can be used besides uranium? is ae heard that thorium possibility, and i wondered if on the nuclear powered stuff, if it is uranium that is used as a source. thank you. host: thank you. thet: yes, uranium is source of the fuel for the naval reactors at this time. there are other types of elements that could be used with nuclear fuel, as you pointed
out, but uranium is the one that is most well-established. there is the longest history with it. the universal fuel is based on uranium, and switching to a fuel like thorium would possibly introduce other problems and convocations. even though there is a lot of louisiana some in some quarters for a fuel like thorium, it is actually not that straightforward to use it. host: joining us from tampa, florida, go ahead, please. caller: mr. burns here. i was a professional actor in a screen actors guild awards working on a tv movie at the time, a tv movie in manhattan, and my girlfriend was from middleton, and she was supposed to go there, and then the thing happened, and i saw the panic in the streets of new york city. host: was there a lot of panic? inst: well, i was actually ninth grade in new york city at
that time, and certainly there was concern. so -- butt far away, the uncertainty, the news and not knowing what to believe, a discussion about the hydrogen bubble and other possibilities of course led to great uncertainty. as it did happen, because tmi was not the worst accident that could have happened, we did not see a mass amount of radioactivity, but that does not mean that there could not have been. in fact today, the nuclear power plants, the waste that is stored in those plants, most of it is very densely packed waste. my colleagues at princeton have were aed that if there fire and the spent fuel pool reactor in pennsylvania called , that could impact areas as far away as new york city and even boston with weather systems, so it is not
without question that it can affect many communities. host: after three mile island, how long did it take to know that another nuclear power plant ? guest: in the united states, a couple of decades. there were many projects that were under development at that time. three mile island was one factor, but only one factor in why many of those were canceled, but a couple of those actually and thell viable, reactor was completed in 1986, which was the first one completed after that waste. from palm city, florida. charlie, good morning. go ahead, please. caller: thanks to c-span for having this guest line. i used to work on capitol hill for a number of years, and people do not realize we had something like over 40 major
excursions where we have had near meltdowns on nuclear reactors. i was wondering for a couple of questions, if the guests could talk about that. theave questions out of energy left, all kinds of fluoride stored at research facilities, like in paducah, oak ridge, in portsmouth, ohio that is at risk. and the other thing is the cost. we have had 32 reactors that were planted that were going to come olnline, and after fukushima, they were all canceled. was going to finance basically with ratepayers, and the cost of paying for it through the rates, and that basically canceled it.
it is amazing to me that we still rely on mostly coal-fired power in the united states, and we have not come up with a viable alternative, although if you go out west, a lot of. wind power has started up. the other problem is we lose a was 50% of our power when it is generated at a power plant by the time it gets to our house because of the al qaeda network that we have in transmission of power, so i would just like to transfercause of the network that we have in transmission of power, so i would like to talk about that, and we cannot depend on coal for ever and ever. wind, it takes something like 20,000, 30,000 wind-generating towers to generate electricity oal-firedandard c plant could generate. the latest stuff from
tesla, elon musk where he put a solar power over the entire roof, is that the answer? guest: yes, well, i am not going to pretend that i am an expert in renewable energy policy. my focus is nuclear. my what i can say is organization does believe that alimate change is serious threat, and there has to be a radical transformation of energy policy, both in the united states and abroad in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, which would be a global temperature rise of about 4.5 degrees celsius. in order to do that, there has cartelization.ed we have to get rid of coal altogether. make that up with low carbon sources. so there are a range of options, worth whereally society puts its r&d dollars
with development in nuclear policy. safety and security are nonnegotiable. unless we solve these problems adequately, it may take nuclear power off the table, and then there are also many other renewable sources like wind and solar, and i think once, if society is able to value the price of carbon and the externality of putting carbon into the atmosphere, the nuclear and renewables will have to compete with each other. so there are a lot of options. host: with one resident calling disaster," this headline from the pennsylvania state capitol, looking back at the 40th anniversary of three mile island, saying "we were told the nuclear accident was as likely as a meteor falling from the sky." back to your phone calls.
jackie from arizona, good morning. caller: hi. i have a two-part question. predicteduld you have this accident because of sri lanka? could sri lanka have been related to this incident? guest: uh, sri lanka. host: calle you need to explain. tsunami anduse of tectonic plates. and put it may be be because of the way you treat human beings on earth? guest: are you talking about fukushima in particular? caller: absolutely. guest: to address the issue, and mr. walker brought this up, he thought the main problem with fukushima is it was sited in the wrong place. i do disagree with him with that. although that site was viable
there was little evidence that they had occurred at the height as it did in 2011. in fact, in the united states, all the power plants, 98 reactors, all of them were designed to standards in mind we do not understand what the current risks to be. in fact, the current risk in the experiences once that are greater than they were designed for. to acquireded not what is there today. so i would agree, that is the safety and security of the commission and boiled down to how they respect public health and safety. host: let's go out to hawaii. al is on the phone. good morning. caller: good morning.
my call. for taking ironically, i was involved in the anti-nuclear movement back in the period after three mile island, and it motivated me to get into solar and renewables. hawaii was original solar thermal. my question is that the costs, as people are laying out, there have been studies, and we seem to be trending toward renewables in terms of the dollar per megawatt cost for renewable projects, especially when you include the massive cost of decommissioning, even if the project does not feel like -- diablo canyon, which actually has may be similar problems to fukushima, these are things that , you know, i am kind of jumping around. i know you know what i am talking about. but the reality is the dollar renewables now,
ineaking of generation an hawaii is so cheap. utilities scales is the big push, but where we have never metering, distribution, solar on house, solar on-site with no batteries with just the power allowing it to be exported to the grid, the power that was not used, you just made it, and you same buy back power at the rate. the trend is, because of the company that makes it for the utility scale, they have actually been successful in lobbying the public utility commissions into phasing out that meter. that will of course be -- it is a detriment, because it makes the economics look more primitive. host: thank you. we will get a response. edwin lyman. guest: as i have said before,
there are many options, and unfortunately, energy policy, the way it has evolved, it is very local. it really is a composition of commercial interest on both the local and national scale. there is a coherent approach to energy policy that would actually be consistent and value all the different aspects, and of the problems we're facing. we have the nuclear industry, the fossil fuel industry, a lot of muscle in washington and out of the state level. a lot of these issues are going to be decided based on political power and lobbying. that is really not how we see the way this problem is going to be solved. everyone needs to sit down together, take a common set of facts and understanding, and come up with the best path forward. host: our guest is the author of the book "fukushima: the story of a nuclear disaster." you can see his work on the
website ucsusa.org. and on american history tv, whether or not we should continue the use of nuclear power, 75% say yes, 25% say no. you can weigh in. join us on facebook at facebook.com/cspan. fall all of our coverage on our website at c-span.org. we are be enjoined from farmington, michigan. good morning. caller: good morning. thank you for the show, and thank you for the question. what happens to that nuclear waste? when the spent fuel from naval reactors is used up, that goes to storage primarily in the state of idaho and the department of energy. that waste now is being stored.
it is waiting for the same resolution that all of the spent fuel as nuclear power plants are waiting for. that is a national solution, which we believe has to be a , whereological problem that waste has to be isolated from the human environment over the thousands of years it will that isoxic, and another challenge that our country is facing. hasind a repository that validity and -- host: from south burlington, vermont, larry. go ahead, please. caller: good morning. thanks for taking my call. host: sure. youer: i was curious if were familiar with the situation that happened in ne vermont with the vermont yankee is. . guest: yes, it was decommissioned. caller: a lot of people cheered
the closing. they were happy about that. my question for you is, do you have a comment, if that was the right move to do, could it have been salvaged? do the benefits outweigh any of to damages, of now we have burn more also feels to get the -- more fossil fuels to get the energy we were producing. i will take my answer all fair. thank you. guest: there are some problems faced by aging nuclear plants around the country. was designed to carry water, slightly reactive, contaminated, other types of waste. not intended to be maintained over the lifetime of the plant.
difficult to fix that kind of problem. have some issues where there are some components td issues that are maybe oo complex to fix. that is not the position of vermont yankee, but it was leaking, and it was not clear if that problem could be solved from an economic action. host: we are live from the three-mile island area. you can look at the footage there. go ahead, please. you saidi, mr. lyman, you did not take a position on this nuclear energy, and i have not heard one positive thing about it. guest: well, i do not think that is true. i then talk about its low
carbon, generating potential. there are a lot of cheerleaders. but we need to clarify what the detriments. and the i spent a lot of time in washington nuclear regulatory commission on helping were trying to press the regulator to do the right thing and make sure that nuclear plants are safe and secure, and unfortunately, a lot of things i see are not favorable, the direction of the industry is going in, so i think it is in everyone's interest, whether you are pro-or anti-nuclear power, to make sure the regulators do their job. we saw what happened with the federal aviation administration, the certification of the 737 max 8. there are now concerns that the faa delegated to much authority to blowingctions
itself, the aircraft company, and that is the trend with the nuclear regulatory commission today, that there is great pressure to delegate to the owners to regulate their own plans and not even telling the commissioners about problems that arrive or changes they want to make. if you support nuclear power, you should be concerned about that. a minutehave less than left. virginia, you get the last word, from riverside, california. a quick question. caller: how many nuclear plants are around florida, if i am correct, and how many throughout the united states still in operation? guest: i think today there are 98 reactors at 60 sites. arelorida, i believe there three, but i would have to actually check. lucie arent and st.
the two stations. host: he is the author on a book of foods -- a fukushima. c-span3er for those on american history tv, the program that we showed experts of -- exerpts of, that is up next on c-span3's american history tv. live, thank you for being with us. we are back tomorrow morning with a look at the freshman class of the 116th congress. the washington journal is live at 7 a.m. eastern time, and a simulcast on c-span radio. newsmakers is up next with gerry connolly. thank you for being with us. enjoy the rest of your weekend and have a great weekend. [captions copyright national
cable satellite corp. 2019] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] ♪ >> here's a look at the schedule ahead today on c-span. newsmakers is next. gerald connolly of virginia talks about the mueller report in the top issues in congress including border security, the budget, and democrat's relationship with israel. trump35, president's rally in michigan. hearingst noon, budget on capitol hill, starting with the joint chiefs of staff testifying before the house armed services committee about the pentagon's request.
on q and a. , joan, court reporter talks about her biography of cheese -- chief justice john roberts. >> however john roberts votes now that anthony kennedy is gone, he will determine the law of the land. so, the liberals want him to come over and ensure over a little bit, but the conservatives are trying to hold him back where he always was. meanwhile you have this chief debt -- chief justice declaring there is no such thing as an obama or trump judge. project a bench that is not political when they all have their agendas of sorts. >> tonight at 8:00 eastern on q&a. tv was three giant
networks and a government supported service called pbs. network rolledl out a big idea. let viewers decide all on their own what was important to them. c-span open the doors to washington policymaking, wringing you unfiltered content from congress and beyond. in the age of power to the people, this was true people power. in the 40 years since, the landscape has changed. broadcasting has given way to narrow casting. youtube stars are a thing. c-span's big idea is more relevant than ever. no government money support c-span, its coverage is funded as a public service by the cable or satellite provider. on television and online, c-span is your unfiltered view of government so you can make up your own mind. >> congressman gerry connolly is