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The Case For and Against Nuclear Power

Totty, Michael. “The Case For and Against Nuclear Power.” Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum. 4th custom ed. for York College. Ed. Laurence Behrens, and Leonard J. Rosen. New York: Pearson, 2011. 338-345.

Terms and Allusions

Three Mile Island

On March 28, 1979, at the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, there was a cooling system malfunction that caused a partial melt-down of the reactor core. This loss-of-coolant accident resulted in the release of a significant amount of radioactive gases into the surrounding environment. It was the most significant accident in the history of the USA commercial nuclear power generating industry.

Suggested Further Reading:

DONALD JANSON: Radiation Is Released in Accident At Nuclear Plant in Pennsylvania: Details Remain Unclear Radiation Released in Accident at Nuclear Power Plant in Pennsylvania Radiation Estimates Increased Congressmen Express Shock. Special to The New York Times. New York Times 29 Mar 1979: A1. (


The Chernobyl disaster was a nuclear accident that occurred on 26 April 1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine. An explosion and fire released large quantities of radioactive contamination into the atmosphere, which spread over much of Western USSR and Europe. It is considered the worst nuclear power plant accident in history,

Suggested Further Reading:

-  News Summary: SATURDAY, MAY 3, 1986 New York Times 03 May 1986: 29. (

- Disaster in Ukraine Is Called Worst Ever By U.S. Task Force: U.S. Group Monitoring the Soviet Nuclear Accident Calls It the Worst Ever By PHILIP M. BOFFEY. Special to The New York Times. New York Times 04 May 1986: 1.(

The China Syndrome

A 1979 American thriller film that tells the story of a reporter and cameraman who discover safety cover-ups at a nuclear power plant. The title is a fanciful term—not intended to be taken literally—that describes one possible worst-case result of a nuclear meltdown, where reactor components melt through their containment structures and into the underlying earth, "all the way to China". The film was released on 16 March 1979, 12 days before the Three Mile Island nuclear accident in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania.

Suggested Further Reading:

- 'Syndrome': Political Power; 'Syndrome': Nuclear Plant as Bogeyman in a Doomsday Thriller.  The Washington Post, March 16, 1979, Friday, Final Edition, Style; Film; B1, 1280 words, By Gary Arnold.

- BEYOND 'THE CHINA SYNDROME'  Newsweek, April 16, 1979, UNITED STATES EDITION, NATIONAL AFFAIRS; pg. 31, 888 words, DENNIS A. WILLIAMS with MARTIN KASINDORF in Los Angeles, GERALD C. LUBENOW in San Francisco and RON LaBRECQUE in Middletown, Pa. (


maligned – adj.  harmful, malicious, evil

proliferation – n.  a rapid and often excessive spread or increase

scrutiny – n. a searching examination or investigation

subsidy – n. a grant or contribution of money

intermittent – adj. alternately functioning and not functioning

warped – adj.  twisted; distorted

wrangling – n.  argument; dispute; quarrel

interim – n. temporary

rogue – n. a dishonest person; scoundrel

rationale – n. a statement of reasons

wean – v. to withdraw (a person, the affections, one's dependency, etc.) from some object, habit, form of enjoyment, or the like

renaissance – n. a renewal of life, vigor, interest, etc.; rebirth; revival

surreptitious – adj. acting in a stealthy way

magnitude – n. greatness of size or amount


Vocabulary Exercise

Choose the lettered word or phrase that is most nearly similar in meaning to the word in capital letters.


(A) indifferent  (B) obvious    (C) neutral (D)  secret  (E) restrained


(A) revival  (B) fortune (C) pretense (D) combination  (E) agreement


(A) decrease  (B) blame (C) solemnity (D) praise    (E) greatness


(A) fashion  (B) farmer (C) scoundrel (D) famous     (E) wealthy person


(A) length  (B) liability (C) drawback (D) reason     (E) evidence


(A) examine carefully    (B) disregard   (C) overcome    (D) abolish  (E) abandon


(A) wrapped    (B) distorted     (C) regular (D)  childish  (E) contrary


(A) unsteady    (B) constant     (C) intimate   (D)  merry    (E) good-natured


(A) beneficial (B) opposite (C) harmful (D)  weak    (E) stylish


(A) proper  (B) temporary (C) talkative (D) violent     (E) stubborn



1. D     2. A     3. E     4. C     5. D     6. A    7. B     8. A     9. C      10. B