Monday, October 06, 2008
You might be too young to remember Three Mile Island, one of the worst nuclear accidents in recent memory. Permit me to give you a capsule history:
Basically, something went seriously wrong with a major nuclear power plant’s reactor cooling system, resulting in a partial meltdown. A meltdown is when the enriched-uranium nuclear fuel in a reactor gets too hot to be contained in the form of fuel rods, a form which allows the reaction to be controlled, and literally melts down like candle wax into a giant mass whose criticality, that is, rate of reaction, can no longer be controlled. (That’s how the word “meltdown” got into our vocabulary by the way, because of Three Mile Island).
Company and government officials told us that it wasn’t a serious accident. It turned out that it was.
Company and government officials told us that no significant amount of radiation had leaked into the atmosphere. It turned out that it had.
Company and government officials told us that there was no reason to panic. We panicked, silly us.
Company and government officials told us the reactor site would be cleaned up, the reactor fixed and placed back on-line as soon as possible.
That reactor is still off-line.
Do you see any parallels between Three Mile Island, and what’s now going down on Wall Street?