This past Monday marked the 32nd anniversary of the accident at Three Mile Island. As Japan deals with its own nuclear crisis, the anniversary seems more apt than usual.

On March 28, 1979, a partial nuclear meltdown occurred at the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. The mishap still remains the most significant accident in the history of the U.S. commercial nuclear power generating industry.

The accident at TMI was created because of a combination of mechanical failure and human error. At the time nuclear power was a newly growing industry, lacking key regulation and the proper plans to deal with such a catastrophe. Following the accident, safeguards were put in place and America saw a decline in nuclear reactor construction. The priority was made to make sure an incident on this scale could be prevented, and mechanisms were put in place to be prepared if the worst-case scenario should occur.

But as Japan still grapples with its nuclear issues, many people are beginning to wonder: Can we really ever truly be prepared? How do we ready nuclear power plants for the unexpected? Are we ready for another Three Mile Island?

The Commonwealth Club gives you the chance to ask these kinds of questions and join the debate with upcoming lectures like Nuclear Power: Setting Sun? Join us for a conversation about nuclear renewable electricity in an era of soaring oil prices and resurgent doubts about nuclear safety.

Also be sure to check out a previously recorded talk on the subject by listing to Nuclear Energy: Fueling the Future? Hear what was being said about nuclear energy in 2008 and what experts were saying about nuclear energy before it was headline news.

And make sure to come to the next Environmental and Natural Resources Planning Meeting to discuss the kind of environmental issues you’d like to see discussed at the next Commonwealth Club lecture. 

–By James Dohnert