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"Just" a partial meltdown?

Reader comment on item: [The University of] California [Press] vs. Academic Freedom

Submitted by G. (United States), Mar 30, 2004 at 23:47

Mr. Pipes,

Though I generally find your writing extremely insightful and well-informed,
I nevertheless could not help gagging over the following sentence from your
recent New York Sun piece:

Daniel Pipes writes:
> Other anti-government books expose the Three-Mile-Island "nuclear crisis"
> in 1979 (it was just a partial meltdown)...

Though I agree with the point I believe you were making here (and in the
piece in general) I think you do yourself a disservice by underplaying
the seriousness of the TMI events by placing "nuclear crisis" in quotes,
and saying that that it was "just" a partial meltdown.

As an engineer -- though not a nuclear engineer -- and a strong advocate
of nuclear power, I am firmly in the opposite camp from the nuclear
hysterics whom (I can only guess) probably penned the textbook you're
referring to. The notion that there was some sort of government coverup
of TMI that needs to be "exposed" is pure bologna; just another unfortunate
example of the reflexive, anti-government conspiracy mentality that
appears too often in today's left-leaning texts, unbalanced by more
objectively reasoned views. I believe that was your point, and I agree.

Nevertheless, from an engineering perspective, it is not hyperbole to
refer to those events as a crisis. A core exposure during full power
operation is a very big deal, and it seems unlikely to me that any such
event resulting in core damage -- no matter how "partial" -- would ever
be referred to by a nuclear engineer as "just" a partial meltdown.


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