In 1983, I was a young lawyer representing the local community group trying to stop the restart of the Three Mile Island Unit 1 nuclear reactor -- sister of the crippled Unit 2. We knew that four years earlier, company officials created the conditions that led to the worst commercial nuclear accident in U.S. history, withheld information about its seriousness while the plant was melting down, and continued to lie even after the accident. We thought the evidence against restarting the plant couldn't get any more compelling. But then it did.
A company named Bechtel had been brought in to co-manage the so-called "clean up" of Unit 2 -- a place so highly contaminated and beyond repair that it was eventually mothballed. But for a few years, workers were sent in to this extraordinarily dangerous plant, the condition of which was unprecedented and complex, to do whatever they could do. I didn't know much about Bechtel at the time, but soon learned that this private company was thick as thieves with the nuclear industry, and was about to initiate one of the most alarming violations of public trust that we had yet seen in this case -- and that's saying something.