As soon as I found that out, I tricked my girlfriend into thinking we were headed for a luxuriant bed and breakfast in idyllic Lancaster for a romantic weekend getaway, and then took her an hour past that while she was napping in the passenger seat to this nuclear reactor that made international news before she was born.
You have to realize, what makes this place so special of all the 60-odd nuclear power plants in the U.S. was that this was the worst nuclear accident in American history. I mean, people were almost evacuated on a mass scale. People were almost irradiated in horribly scarring and cancer-causing ways. People almost died horrible deaths. Yup, you heard that right…the worst nuclear accident in American history and zero...people...died. And nobody mutated. This is why there’ll never be a good drama produced about it. Three Mile Island was one of the biggest anti-climaxes in the history of America. And that’s why I wanted to go there. All...about...the...anti-climax. This article is no exception.
Three Mile’s obscenely easy to get to, for those of you so inclined. You can Google Map it using just the phrase “Three Mile Island.” You can even misspell it, and it’ll still know exactly where you want to go. As soon as you get to Middletown, on whose outskirts Three-Mile looms like a...well, like what it is, a nuclear freaking reactor, you can see the towers in the distance, belching huge cumulonimbi of thick white steam. Then you’ll hit River Road, which closely parallels the Susquehanna at the relevant parts. We parked in a neighborhood just down the street, made a joke about the children’s swing set that faced the plant, stepped over three road kills, and snapped the shots below a rise upon which was situated a house that has a great view of the facility. Pissed. I had to travel three hours to see it. They just have to look out their kitchen window.
From my picture here you can only see two of the four towers that make up the facility. There are actually four, with only the two showing working. There were much clearer shots, but I thought this was just the more dramatic angle, I think. For future reference, don't come to O.T.I.S. expecting photography worth a thousand words. Seriously. Just me standing in front of stuff.
I read rumors of a visitors center with very limited hours, but I didn’t see it. Amergen is the company that runs Three Mile these days, and a couple of Amergen buildings are located across the street from Three Mile, but nothing promoting obviously and friendly-like that there’s a visitor center. And “obviously and friendly-like” is pretty much what I need to enter strange buildings for no good reason at all. The bridge entrance to Three Mile does have a few-spaced parking area marked “visitor parking,” but you have to drive past the “No Trespassing” and “Subject to Search and Photograph” signs. More mixed messages than a drunken asphasiac, I know.
We traveled east a bit further down River Road just past the island and saw a dilapidated and probably long-shut-down establishment with a placard bearing the name Radioactive Bar & Grill. I really have no comment on that place other than to mention it; I do absolutely hate ending the article with that observation, though.
But there you go. Three Mile Island. Human-error-caused nuclear accident. And not a single Homer Simpson joke. ’Cause I’ve got comedic self-control.