Fear is our national pastime. As a society, we have a long history of getting whipped into a collective frenzy over threats to our health or children that are nearly (or completely) non-existent. No danger is too small or remote to be exaggerated and screamed from the headlines.
On March 28, 1979, what should have been a minor plumbing problem somehow escalated into a reactor fuel meltdown at the Three Mile Island Nuclear Station in Pennsylvania. Within five days, the Governor had ordered the evacuation of all children and pregnant women (fuck you, dad!) within a five-mile radius of the area. Since that time, the name Three Mile Island has been synonymous with nuclear disaster. Hooters even named one of their hottest (and most delicious) wing sauces after it!
But unlike other nuclear disasters, Chernobyl for example, which caused at least 4,000 eventual deaths, Three Mile Island was responsible for a whopping zero fatalities. In fact, there weren't even any injuries. Later tests revealed that the level of radiation people were exposed to in the five-mile radius was equivalent to the amount of radiation a person is exposed to while flying on a commercial airliner. In other words, the danger was nil.
So why all the ruckus? Much like that restraining order Catherine Zeta-Jones slapped us with a few years back, we blame Michael Douglas for this.
Just 12 days prior to the incident at TMI, The China Syndrome premiered. In the film, Michael Douglas plays a television news reporter who surreptitiously films a nuclear power plant crew as a near meltdown is taking place. As luck would have it, the events depicted in the movie almost perfectly mirrored what occurred at TMI. With the movie stirring public debate about the safety of nuclear power, there was no way the incident at TMI occurring just days later would do anything less than scare the ever-loving shit out of people. And that's exactly what it did.
"Hi, I'm a giant asshole."
In 1979, Three Mile Island killed fewer people than ...
Robot attacks. Ford factory worker Robert Williams was killed when a robot hit him in the head, thus outranking Three Mile Island's death toll, 1-0.