In 2003, I was home on a book tour in York, Pennsylvania. During lunch with my high school friends, I was shocked as they listed classmates and neighbors, who had died or suffered from cancer, neurological diseases like Multiple Sclerosis and brain cancer and tumors.
In September, 2012, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Fortunately, I was very lucky and my surgery was a success.
My younger brother was also diagnosed in a span of seven years with a brain tumor, then skin cancer, and thyroid cancer. Thank God, he is with us today; however, he left York for college as I did and never returned home.
That is the invisible, insidious, and latent nature of ionizing radiation; it presents later, decades later - like what we are seeing now 40 years after the meltdown at Three Mile Island nuclear plant.
This is happening not only in my hometown, but also in the 128 towns comprising the four counties surrounding Three Mile Island.
This picturesque region of Pennsylvania is filled with idyllic, verdant farmlands and dense forests. Originally established in the 1700s, these tiny towns have been home to these virtuous people for generations. These families never suspected such a menacing neighbor in their own backyard when Three Mile Island nuclear plant began operation on December 30, 1978.
In less than three months of operation, Unit-2 was shut down 70 percent of the time.
According to TMI employees, “It was turned ‘ON’ too soon; it was not ready,” but the tax breaks were too good to pass up …
As a crow flies, East York, Pennsylvania is less than 13 miles south of Three Mile Island. The prevailing winds on Wednesday March 28, 1979 averaged 9.4 miles per hour and pushed the radioactive plume south and southeast and also on the five following days, blanketing my neighborhood of Penn Oaks South.
Residents were not told what was really happening until The Report of the President’s Commission on the Accident at Three Mile Island was released in October, 1979. This is available online for free to read.
Its 178 pages were still a cryptic read to find answers. Adjectives rather than scientific measurements were used to describe the accidentally and deliberate releases of radioactive isotopes into the atmosphere, ground water, and the Susquehanna River, the drinking water for 6 million.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission still proclaims: “No deaths or long-term health effects were connected to the accident.”
The media today still continues to parrot their glib assurances as the world watches what is still happening with Chernobyl and Fukushima. All including Three Mile Island are still “hot”.
Unfortunately, a walking tour of my neighborhood and a trip through the pages of my Central York High School yearbook proves the very opposite to be true.
The new molecular medical tests will prove the link between these lives that were lost or compromised by the 1979 nuclear accident at the Three Mile Island.
Dr. David Goldenberg has linked the release of radioactive isotope iodine-131 to the high incidents of thryoid cancer in the heart of Pennsylvania.
Scientific research now has proven that exposure to ionizing radiation does cause latent cancers and other neurological diseases. The Department of Veteran Affairs acknowledges that ionizing radiation causes 21 cancers, neurological diseases, and brain tumors.
In our featue film, MELTDOWN, Based on True Events, the female protagonist represents a survivor’s story and the locals’ reaction to what happened in 1979 and what has transpired since.
In 1979, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission did not admit to a meltdown, and finally did once cameras could be placed inside TMI’s Unit-2 to actually see the “elephant’s foot” - what melted fuel rods look like, finally in the summer of 1982.
The meltdown was not just of the physical meltdown of fifty-percent of the reactor’s core, but also the meltdown of training, safety, and communications plus the meltdown of emotional and mental health of those residents and employees, who lived through the world’s first nuclear meltdown.
Perhaps the worse side effect of all was the meltdown of the people’s health, which presented decades later due to exposure to low doses of ionizing radiation and proven to cause the following: brain cancer, bone cancer, blood cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, bile duct cancer, colon cancer, esophagus cancer, gall bladder cancer, liver cancer, lymphomas, multiple myeloma, ovary cancer, pancreas cancer, pharynx cancer, salivary gland cancer, small intestine cancer, stomach cancer, thyroid cancer, and urinary tractcancer and tumors of the brain and central nervous system plus neurological diseases.
One of my East Coast affiliates, assisting with the development of this film is my friend, Michele Williams, who was 12 when the accident happened. She lived across the street from me on Harrowgate Road.
In 2010, she was diagnosed with MS. Her mother has breast cancer, her father had prostate cancer, and her next-door neighbor died of leukemia.
Of the 80+ homes in our neighborhood, more than half have been affected.
In fact, the creek that is a tributary from the Susquehanna River and flooded my childhood home every spring - including my brother’s bedroom, the 6 homes over and beside this creek - all have been diagnosed with cancer, brain tumors, and neurological diseases including the second generation totaling 19 diagnoses.
Babies should not die of brain cancer.
Strontium-90 and cesium-137 both have half-lives of about 30 years. This is the legacy of nuclear, it keeps on giving. Penn State University and its satellite campus host THON, a dance event every year for 48 hours to raise awareness and funding for childhood cancers.
THON is for their classmates and for their siblings, who are fighting cancer, or who have died. This is indictive that there is a huge problem with nuclear stating that it is “green”, “clean” and “safe”.
There are many more fatalities from the surrounding area on this long list. This narrative, full-length feature film will tell their stories because many did not get a second chance at living. This movie will be their voice.
Our mission is to increase the awareness of the long-term effects of radiation and the necessity to “GO Green!” now.
Currently, I’m writing, directing, and producing films in Portland, Oregon. Since Oregon resembles Pennsylvania, some of the filming could be completed here. Ideally, I would like to go home to film.
We will also film in the snowy Colorado Rockies as I am still an avid skier. I decided to begin the film on top of the Continental Divide because this beautiful visual analogy is a reminder that our earth is a closed system and our water and air are affected by everyone’s actions.
As a former, collegiate alpine ski racer, PSIA ski instructor, and ski patroller, I believe strongly in protecting our environment. I write green’ scripts and run green’ film sets, too. I believe in spotlighting environmental and societal injustices and proving solutions, too so that one person can make a difference with their actions and words.
As a mother, I feel we must make this film for our children and to ensure them a better future.
Thank you for your support,
Jill Murphy Long
Executive Producer & Screenwriter
JML Films LLC
Let’s talk about how we can make the earth a happier and healthier place now.
970 846 1428 (PST)
And then let’s do something.