Three Mile Island. Psychology and environmental policy at a crossroads

Summarizes the research on the psychological stress that was precipitated by the Three Mile Island (TMI) nuclear reactor accident and that could be caused by a restart of TMI's undamaged reactor. The legal background of whether the reactor should be turned on again is explained within the context of case law concerning recovery of damages caused by emotional trauma. Recent court decisions are explored for implications regarding the role of psychology in environmental use assessments that may be required by the National Environmental Policy Act.

Mediating influences of social support on stress at Three Mile Island


Symptom reporting, task performance, and urinary catecholamine excretion were studied in a group of people living near the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant and in control populations. More than a year after the accident, living near the damaged reactor was associated with elevations in all indices of stress compared with control levels. Social support mediated these stress indices such that higher levels were associated with fewer psychological and behavioral symptoms of stress. Biochemical measures showed a different pattern of results.

Health effects of the nuclear accident at Three Mile Island

The real and potential health effects of the accident at Three Mile Island are reviewed in relation to biological effects of low-level radiation and the behavioral response of populations and individuals under stress.