TMI watchdog group marks 30th year with banquet in Harrisburg
By Staff Report
Lancaster New Era

Published: Mar 27, 2007 12:42 PM EST


HARRISBURG - TMI watchdog group marks 30th year with banquet in Harrisburg

Three Mile Island nuclear plant watchdog group Three Mile Island Alert will mark its 30th anniversary tonight with a banquet in Harrisburg.

The group of activists formed in 1977 to oppose the licensing and construction of TMI Generating Station's Unit 2 nuclear reactor.

The unit was built and two years later was the scene of the worst nuclear accident in U.S. history.

"After almost 30 years, it's easy to forget what happened at TMI," Eric Epstein, who heads the group, said. "But we are still dealing with some of the same issues we had back then."

To commemorate its 30th anniversary, TMI Alert will hold a recognition banquet tonight at the Jewish Community Center, 3301 N. Front St., Harrisburg.

Epstein said the event will honor two "friends for their exceptional contributions" to keeping the plant safe and ensuring future generations do not forget the seriousness of the partial meltdown that happened there.

One of tonight's honorees is Larry Christian, who, in the days following the Sept. 11 terror attacks, concluded the state's emergency plan &tstr; as it related to TMI &tstr; failed to protect preschool children and other vulnerable populations, such as the elderly. Working with TMI Alert and Gov. Ed Rendell, he is seeking new evacuation rules through the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Also being recognized is Jim Gerencser, a senior archivist at Dickinson College in Carlisle. As head of the school's Archives and Special Collections, he manages the extensive Three Mile Island Alert Collection. The collection includes 128 boxes of TMI-related documents, artifacts and oral histories about the 1979 accident.

Keynote speaker for the event is veteran Ottaway News Service correspondent Robert B. Swift, who covered the story as it unfolded 28 years ago.

In the years since, Epstein said, TMI Alert has "played a constructive role in making the power plant safer."

The group suggested ways to improve security at the plant and has assisted in emergency planning and provided "real-time radiation monitoring," Epstein said.