|President Carter touring the TMI-2 control room, April Fools Day, 1979|
We have done an in-depth report on plant life where we are seeing many mutations… All the birds on the farm disappeared. It looked like winter. And not only did we see complete defoliation, we saw trees that were defoliated at different levels.
50% of the people in this area left. They sold their properties and they went. And you know what happened? They’re just as close, or almost as close to a reactor as where they left here. So it’s futile to think that you’re going to escape this. You have to stand your ground. You have to do your research and you have to challenge your government and say you cannot continue to do this because you’re going to kill this planet.
This population [in the Three Mile Island area] is very passive and very conservative. Most of the people in this area don’t want to talk about it. They don’t want to read about it. They simply know, and they have a feeling of helplessness about their own government. Now, we’re not talking about Russia. We’re talking about the good old USA.
Further information about the work of Jane Lee appears in various reports about the Three Mile Island accident–-a word which the CBC report suggests should be replaced with something that means "an unfortunate event foreseeable because of previously known hazards."
In the article People Died at Three Mile Island, Harvey Wasserman describes how the TMI operator, and the Pennsylvania and US government downplayed the consequences of the accident and reneged on promises to carry out thorough health studies. He states, "… the most reliable studies were conducted by local residents like Jane Lee and Mary Osborne, who went door-to-door in neighborhoods where the fallout was thought to be worst. Their surveys showed very substantial plagues of cancer, leukemia, birth defects, respiratory problems, hair loss, rashes, lesions and much more."
Such research has been routinely dismissed with pejorative connotations by the word “anecdotal.” If hundreds of people in an area report the sudden onset of health problems after a nuclear accident, but the researcher is deemed to be just an unqualified farmer-activist (not participating in officially sanctioned research), the findings are treated contemptuously with such zingers as "the plural of anecdote is not data." Actually, the plural of anecdote in much academic research is data. If you describe your symptoms to a citizen mobilizing her own research project, you are telling anecdotes. If you describe your symptoms to an approved researcher, you’re giving data.
Wasserman also cites the work of Arnie Gundersen, a nuclear engineer who left the industry in order to pursue anti-nuclear work. He quotes Gundersen as saying, "When I correctly interpreted the containment pressure spike and the doses measured in the environment after the TMI accident, I proved that TMI's releases were about one hundred times higher than the industry and the NRC claim, in part because the containment leaked. This new data supports the epidemiology of Dr. Steve Wing and proves that there really were injuries from the accident.” Dr. Wing’s findings have been rejected by many because they were inconsistent with what was believed to be the possible effects of the known releases from TMI. This inconsistency disappears if Gundersen is correct that the releases were a hundred times higher than previously thought.