TMI film looking for extras and locations
It's been 37 years since the meltdown at Three Mile Island just north of York, but the repercussions of the fallout are still being felt today, according to Jill Murphy Long.
The Oregon-based filmmaker grew up in the east York area and was only 12 miles south of the reactor on March 28, 1979. She and many of her neighbors have been diagnosed with and treated for various cancers in the last decade.
These events spurred Murphy Long to start writing a film about her and the others' experiences, "Meltdown." Although filming hasn't started, Murphy Long and her crew have been working hard to promote it for the last year.
"In a perfect world, I'd like to turn the cameras on in September," she said. "We want to film for 25 days in three states. It's ambitious, but it's possible."
The film should be premiering at film festivals in spring 2017, according to Murphy Long. Distribution of the film starts in 2017.
Murphy Long said she hopes to film a lot of the scenes in York. She is back in town this week to scout locations and recruit extras for filming. She is also working on collecting more stories of people she calls "survivors" of TMI.
Survivors: Kelly Kinard is one of those people. She was diagnosed with Stage 3 melanoma in 2010. Kinard grew up in Red Lion and was 12 miles south as the crow flies from the reactor.
"It's now in my lymph nodes," she said. "It recently went into my brain. As I talk with Jill, I'm more and more convinced that this could have caused it. I've been dealing with this since 1985."
Kinard's diagnosis was upgraded to Stage 4 when the cancer entered her brain. She also has multiple sclerosis, a neurological disorder that causes numbness or weakness in limbs, double vision and tingling or pain in other parts of the body among other symptoms, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Christine Layman, who grew up with Murphy Long, said this is something that's become commonplace with people from that community.
"I lived within a 5-mile radius of it," Layman said. "Most of my friends in that area have died or have some sort of cancer or neurological issue."
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, there are multiple types of cancer that are associated with exposure to ionizing radiation like that which was released when TMI had a malfunction. It can cause issues like leukemia, lymphoma, lung and breast cancer.
Findings: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission states on its website that thousands of environmental samples of air, water, vegetation and soil have been collected by government agencies and very low levels of radionuclides could be attributed to the releases from the accident, the website reads.
“However, comprehensive investigations and assessments by several well-respected organizations, such as Columbia University and the University of Pittsburgh, have concluded that in spite of serious damage to the reactor, the actual release had negligible effects on the physical health of individuals or the environment,” according to the NRC website.
Murphy Long said she is not convinced by these findings, as many of the people she has talked to from the area have also experienced health ramifications such as cancers and neurological diseases.
“Unfortunately, a walking tour of my neighborhood and a trip through the pages of my Central York High School yearbook proves the very opposite to be true,” she said. “I believe there is a strong link between these lives that were lost or compromised by the 1979 nuclear accident at the Three Mile Island.”
Events in York: There are many events happening around York and Middletown to promote the film and raise funding. Murphy Long said she needs somewhere between $20 million and $40 million to finance the movie, especially since she's working to get an A-list actor to star in the film.
"If you want to donate, I want to you know that I'll be frugal with your money," she said. "It doesn't even have to be money. Even if you just follow on social media, that makes a difference."
BrewVino Handcrafted Pizza, 251 N. George St., is hosting a film launch party on Saturday.
"We’ll be looping JML Films 2015 reel and previewing the ‘proof-of-concept’ trailer," Murphy Long said.
Other smaller parties will be held around the area. Murphy Long is also showing her reel and the trailer for "Meltdown" at the Go Green in the City event on Saturday, April 23. The screening will take place from 1-5 p.m. at Creative York, 10 N. Beaver St.
For a full list of events or to get more information on the film, visit meltdowthefilm.com.
— Reach Katherine Ranzenberger at email@example.com.