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Mike Gray on: The Aftermath
Mike Gray Q: What does this accident leave you with?

MG: One of the people who was the best resource for press inquiries was a former Nuclear Regulatory Commission inspector named Bob Pollard, who had an office here in Washington. And after the accident was over, I was there with a number of other reporters and we were interviewing Pollard about, what did this all mean? You know, it was very close, it looked like, but was it really -- how close was it? Was this really the disaster we had feared? Was the nation in danger? In retrospect, what's your take on all this as one of the leading critics of nuclear technology? And Pollard said, "The serious accidents never occur out of the blue. There's always some kind of a warning. This was a warning." And that's why Ira and I titled our book "The Warning." It was a description of as close as you can come without meeting your maker face to face, as it were. And very close, indeed, but the lesson that we must learn from Three Mile Island is that Murphy's Law is no less immutable than Einstein's Law of Relativity, or Newton's Law of Gravity. And we have created a technology here which is very unforgiving. We learned something from the accident at Three Mile Island and we were fortunate. We don't know how many people it killed because you can never know the total downstream in terms of radiation cancer that may have occurred 20 years later, whatever. But, we do know there was a cost. There certainly was a cost to this poor public utility there in Pennsylvania that got virtually wiped out by this accident. But what does it mean for us now 20 years later? Many of these plants identical to Three Mile Island are still in operation. There is no question that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission learned something from this accident and they no longer have the cavalier attitude about plant safety that they did in 1979.

It's not that another accident could happen, but that it almost certainly will happen because, as Murphy's Law dictates, if something can go wrong, it will.

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