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Dartmouth Hosts Three Mile Island Symposium

Mar 25, 2014   |   by Bill Platt   |   Dartmouth Now

In the early hours of March 28, 1979, a valve problem in Unit 2 of the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant near Middletown, Pa., launched a chain of events that led to a partial meltdown—the worst nuclear accident in American history. Two weeks later, amid widespread anxiety, President Jimmy Carter empaneled a special commission to investigate the accident. He asked then-Dartmouth President John Kemeny to lead it.

On Friday, March 28, Thayer School of Engineering, the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding, and Stanford’s Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance will hold a one-day event, “Three Mile Island 35th Anniversary Symposium: The Past, Present, and Future of Nuclear Energy.

Joseph Helble, dean of Thayer, says the symposium will bring together experts from government, industry, and academia, some of whom were involved in the Kemeny commission, to review and discuss the past, present, and future of nuclear energy nationally and internationally.

“Energy remains one of two core interdisciplinary areas of focused research and education at Thayer. Understanding the role that nuclear energy can play as a low-carbon source of power is an essential part of this effort,” Helble says. “We felt it was important to co-host this symposium, both to look back at TMI to remind us of the challenges nuclear technology has faced, and to consider the promise of developing technologies.” ...

... Thayer Engineering Professor Charles Sullivan and Associate Professor of Economics Erin Mansure will moderate the final panel, “The Future of Nuclear Energy,” which will include an expert on the Chinese nuclear industry, a leading environmentalist with the Clean Air Task Force who has embraced nuclear power, and a top executive from TerraPower, an advanced nuclear reactor design company financially backed by Microsoft’s Bill Gates.

The symposium runs from 8:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. in Spanos Auditorium at Thayer. The event is free and open to the public.

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