Doublespeak: Nuclear Power Plants

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The article discusses the nuclear power plant in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, called Three Mile Island, which has the ability to create large amounts of power with little fuel, but also carries the threat of a meltdown. The nuclear power industry uses misleading language and jargon to make the public believe there is no possibility of a major accident. In 1979, a partial meltdown occurred at Three Mile Island due to employee error, but corrective action was eventually taken. In 1986, a more serious event occurred in the USSR at the Chernobyl plant, causing evacuations and deaths. The article argues that the industry’s use of doublespeak is dangerous and dishonest, and that the public deserves straightforward facts about the risks of nuclear power plants.

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Harrisburg, Pennsylvania is the home of a large, efficient, andthreatening nuclear power plant, Three Mile Island. Nuclear power plants havethe awesome ability to create large amounts of power with very little fuel, yetthey carry the frightening reality of a meltdown with very little warning.

Suppose you live in Harrisburg and you here that the nearby nuclear plant had apartial meltdown, how would you react? When most people here the word meltdown,they automatically think radiation, cancer, and death. Now suppose your livingin Harrisburg and you here the nearby power plant experienced a “normalaberration”, you would probably react differently.

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Even with the highly proven safety of nuclear power, there is still fearfrom citizens and the chance of an accident. The nuclear power industry usesmisleading language, and words understood by nuclear employees only, oreuphemisms and jargon, to mislead the public and make them believe that there isnothing to be afraid of and that there is no possibility of a major accident.

They take the public’s biggest fears, meltdowns and contaminations, and makethem into “events” and “infiltrations.” This use of doublespeak is misleading tothe public and may make them believe that a major accident hasn’t happened, orthe accident was a normal event or minor incident.

In 1979 a valve in the Three Mile Island stuck open, allowing coolant,an important part of the plant, to escape from the reactor. An installedemergency system did its job and supplied the reactor with necessary coolant,but the system was shot off for a few hours due to employee error. Correctiveaction was eventually taken, and only a partial meltdown occurred. The plant’scontainment building was able to hold most of the radioactive products fromentering the local environment. Only a small amount of activity escaped, thatactivity was carried by coolant water that had overflowed into an auxiliarybuilding and then to the environment. Though the event didn’t pose any extremeharm to citizens, this one billion dollar incident wasn’t an everyday event ornormal occurrence, as the industry’s doublespeak makes you believe.

In 1986 a similar but more serious event occurred in the USSR. A nuclearpower plant at Chernobyl exploded and burned. The explosion was caused by anunauthorized testing of the reactor by its operators. Radiation spread rapidlyforcing 135,000 evacuations within a 1000 mile radius, and more then 30immediate deaths. This event was more severe then an “energetic disassembly”with “rapid oxidation”, it was a severe incidence.

The nuclear power industry is opposed by many groups, organizations, andcongregations. The industry recognizes the fears of people and they realize thedanger of an accident. Instead of comforting and calming their fears withstraight facts, they choose to deceive and mislead them with doublespeak. Thismay settle the concerns of the public, but it hides from them the possibility ofdanger, and the reality of what a meltdown can cause. This is dangerous for thecitizens, and dishonest of the industry.

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Doublespeak: Nuclear Power Plants. (2019, Apr 29). Retrieved from

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