Saturday, June 22, 2024

New documentary zooms in on events of 1979 nuclear plant accident

Posted by Elena del Valle on February 21, 2024

Radioactive poster and director

Radioactive poster and director

Photo: First Run Features

A new documentary, uplifting, inspiring and distressing, about the 1979 Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania nuclear power accident and the events that followed was released in theaters December 2023. It is due to become available on DVD and via Apple TV and Amazon streaming next month. Radioactive: The Women of Three Mile Island, from Three Mile Productions, shines a light on the “never-before-told” stories of four homemakers who take their community’s case against the plant operator to the Supreme Court as well as the story of a young woman journalist.

The 77-minute documentary consists of archival video and modern day interviews with some of the women who lived in the area at the time and others. The film features activist and actor Jane Fonda, whose film, The China Syndrome (a fictional account of a nuclear meltdown), opened 12 days before the real disaster in Pennsylvania. It also breaks the story of a “radical new health study” seeking to uncover the truth of the meltdown. According to promotional materials, for more than forty years, the nuclear industry “has done everything in their power to cover up their criminal actions” and insisted that “No one was harmed and nothing significant happened.”

According to the film in April 1979 a government commission studied the accident and concluded that although it was the fault of the nuclear operator no humans had been harmed. In the film Mary Olson, founder, Gender Radiation Impact Project, says “Radiation is ten times more harmful to young females than to Reference Man and 50 percent more harmful to comparable females.”

Heidi Hutner, the director, via a publicist, declined to be interviewed or to answer questions about the documentary. According to promotional materials for the documentary it won: Audience Award – Best Documentary at the Dances With Films Festival, New York City; Best Director and Best Documentary at the Full Frame International Film Festival, New York City; and Best lnvestigative Documentary at the Uranium International Film Festival, Rio de Janeiro.

Hutner is also the writer and producer of the film. According to promotional materials, she is professor of Environmental Humanities and Gender Studies at Stony Brook University, and a “scholar of nuclear and environmental history, literature, film, and ecofeminism;” and she is the winner of Sierra Club Long Island’s 2015 Environmentalist of the Year Award.