“The China Syndrome” is a movie made over thirty years ago. It’s about a nuclear power plant in Southern California that nearly had a major meltdown. It was a very suspenseful movie. Even though it was a made-up story, it was very realistic. There was a real life nuclear accident at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania just after the movie started to play in movie theatres in 1979. The coincidence of the release of the movie with the real accident was very scary. If there had been no coincidence, people probably would not have paid so much attention to this movie.
In the movie, Jack Lemmon plays an engineer at the nuclear electrical power plant. This engineer discovers that there are some serious problems that could lead to a huge catastrophe. The film shows how Jack Lemmon’s character struggles to warn the public about the truth concerning the power plant. If this engineer had not attempted to report the problems to the public and to the proper government agency, there could have been an even worse disaster. The engineer is shot by the police at the end of the film and he dies. If he had not spoken up, he might have survived and continued to work at the power plant.
If the engineer who worked inside the plant had not co-operated, the newspaper reporters who broke the story about the near meltdown at the nuclear power plant would never have succeeded in getting this important warning on the air. They didn’t know enough about the scientific or technological details to understand how significant the tremors were that they witnessed coincidentally in the power plant. They needed expert input to be able to interpret the events and to understand how dangerous things really were.
If I were in the same situation as the engineer, I would have tried to warn people about the danger. Maybe I am not as brave as he was. I think that the engineer and the reporters did the right thing. Sometimes it is not easy to do the right thing. Sometimes it can cost you a lot.
Video trailer for "The China Syndrome" (1979)