Help me find two CBC radio specials on 3 Mile Island
October 12, 2019 11:28 AM   Subscribe

Years ago I heard two CBC radio specials on the Three Mile Island disaster, or possibly one with two parts? Could I get some help finding them? I think one or both of them might have been part of the Ideas series.

Years ago I heard CBC radio do a special on the 3 Mile Island disaster. Or it might have been two specials? One was a step by step walk through of the disaster, with explanations of how it happened, who did what, and a lot of the social issues about it, such as The China Syndrome coming out right before hand, and the bad suit worn by the person making the public statement.

The second bit was a VERY detailed discussion of the human engineering that made the problem so hard to diagnose, in that there were hundreds of controls, many of which did not read what they labelled as reading, and the difference between the two things was detailed on little cards attached to each one, that would actually obscure other sensors readouts.

Can anyone find me any information on either of these specials?
posted by Canageek to Media & Arts (6 answers total)
This rings a faint bell for me as well, and I have a bunch of old Ideas podcasts on my computer at home. I’ll see if I can find it on my machine when I get home.
posted by Johnny Assay at 11:50 AM on October 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

It was the Ideas documentary "Counting the Costs: Three Mile Island." I think it originally aired on October 21st, 1986, and it was repeated in Listener's Choice in 2011 (ref here). Maybe you would have to physically go to CBC in Toronto (or maybe Winnipeg or Montreal?) to look into their archives to listen to this? I couldn't find anything online nor by searching their archive sale site (
posted by plant or animal at 12:23 PM on October 12, 2019

Was it "Counting the Cost?" It was a multipart radio documentary.

It doesn't seem like it's on the CBC site at the moment, but I found a citation in this paper:

A CBC Ideas program, “Counting the Cost” (Jan. 5 & 6, 1998), graphically depicted the horrors of nuclear energy failings and claimed that retrofitting nuclearreactors in Canada to make them safe would cost$130 billion.

There's also further mention of it here, but the direct link it provides to the mp3 on the CBC site is dead:

The documentary deals with the Three Mile Island nuclear incident that shook the world in 1979. With the ongoing situation at the Fukushima nuclear power plant after the earthquake in Japan, it seemed like the right time to replay this documentary.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 12:24 PM on October 12, 2019

Thanks, Counting the Cost could be it. Their archives aren't publican accessible like that, sadly, but at least I can tell the person I wanted to know for.
posted by Canageek at 2:28 PM on October 12, 2019

Looks like someone uploaded it to the Internet Archive.
posted by mykescipark at 2:58 PM on October 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

mykescipark: I was about to check that, but you beat me through it! Thank you SO much!
posted by Canageek at 3:39 PM on October 12, 2019

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