Sunday, March 29, 2009

Three Mile Island shook our world

I was thinking about the 30th anniversary of the nuclear power plant accident at Three Mile Island, which occurred just up the road a few years before I moved to Lancaster. I used to take my environmental geology classes on field trips to TMI. For the first few years after the accident, it was frankly discussed. As the years went on, it faded into the background of the optimistic discussion about nuclear energy, until it became a footnote only to be mentioned when someone (usually me) specifically asked about it. Of course, we are told that nuclear power is now a lot safer (green, even) than it was in 1979, and an accident like this could never happen again. Hmmm, what do you think was said about the chances of a nuclear power plant accident in 1979?

Anyway, got me to thinking if there could be a connection between a power plant accident and equivalent Richter magnitudes. I want to assure you, in the hour I allow myself to research and produce a blog, this did not eave much time for really thinking this idea through carefully. But I did find an equivalent Richter magnitude for the Chernobyl accident (not TMI) at Wikipedia (ok, not your most authoritative source). Then I made the below graph of equivalent Richter magnitudes. That's all (I've even kept the default Excel graph settings, utterly devoid of good design sense they may be).

Click above for larger image

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