The Near Disaster at Three Mile Island

March 1983 (VOL. 1, NO. 1)

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On March 28, 1979, a serious reactor accident occurred at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (USA). Pregnant women and families with pre-school age children were asked to evacuate a five mile area around the plant. Evacuation plans were developed for a twenty mile radius, although no such evacuation occurred.\r\n\r\nTelephone surveys of adults and a questionnaire survey of high school students living near Three Mile Island were carried out from May, 1979, to January, 1980. The data collected show that living near the plan (absolute or perceived proximity), younger age and lower grade level of adolescent respondent, presence of pre-school age child in the home, lower parent\\'s or adult\\'s education, and evacuation of all or part of the family were all associated with a stronger negative affective response to the accident and with the likelihood of having evacuated the area. \r\n\r\nThe behavior of individuals and families following the Three Mile Island accident parallel those occurring in an actual disaster, and extend the theoretical framework of Kinston and Rosser to include the circumstances of potential disasters.