In late March 1979, unit two of the Three Mile Island (TMI) nuclear power plant near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, malfunctioned, resulting in a partial core meltdown of the Metropolitan Edison (MetEd) reactor. The TMI accident was arguably the biggest accident in the history of the U.S. commercial nuclear power industry. It was certainly the most publicized and most impactful; in its wake, U.S. nuclear construction stopped for 29 years and counting.

The TMI accident is also an excellent illustration of crisis communication principles. Many of the crisis communication “lessons” of TMI were well established before that particular accident. And plenty of more recent emergencies, near-emergencies, and seeming emergencies demonstrate the same lessons. Nonetheless, it is instructive to view TMI through the lens of crisis communication principles. Here ...

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