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FROM THIS EPISODE

Since the nuclear meltdown at Three Mile Island in 1979, the US has not built another nuclear power plant. But the drive to stop global warming has created new interest in power sources that don't emit greenhouse gases.  What can be learned from LA's own nuclear meltdown, a little-known event that occurred exactly 50 years ago today? On our rebroadcast of today's To the Point, Judge Sonia Sotomayor is likely to be the next member of the US Supreme Court. But her confirmation hearings provide a political platform for both parties. We hear about the first day of what could be a week of setting agendas.


Banner image: Sodium Reactor Experiment facility in the Santa Susana Mountains near Simi Valley, California

Main Topic LA's Own Nuclear Meltdown Revisited 26 MIN, 41 SEC

It's been 50 years since America's first nuclear meltdown in the Santa Susana Mountains, between the San Fernando and Simi Valleys. The site was a massive research installation, which tested 30,000 thousand rocket engines over the years and included ten nuclear reactors. On July 13, 1959, one of those —the Sodium Reactor Experimentsprung a leak, and was shut down. But before the problem had been resolved, the reactor was started up again. It ran for nearly two weeks without any kind of containment, like the big concrete domes that shield commercial reactors at San Onofre and other nuclear power plants. To this day, nobody knows how much gas was vented into the air, and cleanup operations still continue. We speak with reporters, environmentalists and a trainee of the facility, who was just 20 years old at the time.

Guests:
John Pace, former worker, Sodium Reactor Experiment
Dan Hirsch, Committee to Bridge the Gap
Bruno Comby, Founding President, Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy
Matt Wald, New York Times (@MattWaldNYT)

Main Topic The US Supreme Court and Partisan Politics 28 MIN

The first morning of Judge Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearings for the US Supreme Court began and ended without her uttering a single word. Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee held forth at length, starting with Democratic Chairman Patrick Leahy.

Guests:
Dahlia Lithwick, Slate.com (@DahliaLithwick)
Philip Howard, Attorney, Covington and Burling
Manuel Miranda, Chairman, Third Branch Conference
Daphne Evitar, Legal Reporter, The Washington Independent

Life without Lawyers

Philip Howard

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