odd 1980's film about a nuclear accident (aired on PBS)?

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I'm trying to find any information about a rather odd film I remember seeing on PBS sometime in the 1980's. I'm not even 100% sure if it was a documentary or cautionary fiction.

It dealt with a nuclear accident at either a nuclear power plant, an experimental reactor, or maybe a government nuclear fuel processing facility.

As best I can recall, it was partially a documentary re-telling of the events, but that was interspersed with a first-person narrative account by one of the workers as he gradually succumbed to the effects of radiation poisoning over a period of several days (via voiceover readings from his diary/journal entries).

Here some other vague recollections which may help:
*The guy lived alone in a trailer, I think.
*The diary sequences were accompanied by a very abstract image of what looked like a lone dark figure on an all-white hill or ski slope. Each time, as the guy's physical and mental condition deteriorated, the figure would be farther down the ski slope.
*The diary sequences were accompanied by various instrumental musical pieces by Brian Eno. I kinda remember one of them being The Big Ship, from Another Green World.

Please tell me I'm not crazy for remembering this. Or, perhaps it's a false memory from an 80's drug-induced fever dream. I hope not.

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johnnyzero2

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Posted 8 months ago

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Vincent Fournols

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HI,

One lead you could start with is to check Brian Eno's name page https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0006061/
"The Big Ship" is not a lead good enough, since it is first registered here in 2004. Nevertheless the other programs might help you.
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johnnyzero2

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Yes, I've already explored the Composer and Soundtrack sections on Eno's IMDB page, with no luck.
Thanks anyway for the suggestion.
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Ed Jones (XLIX)

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Three Mile Island | Nuclear Reaction | FRONTLINE | PBS
https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/reaction/readings/tmi.html
On March 28, 1979 Reactor 2 at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant suffered a partial meltdown. Within weeks attorneys filed a class action suit against ...


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johnnyzero2

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Thanks. But I'm pretty sure my mystery film had nothing to do with the Three Mile Island incident. TMI did not result in any immediate or short-term radiation-related fatalities (that we were told about, anyway).
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johnnyzero2

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Obviously, one way to track down my "mystery film" would be to figure out the real-life incident it was inspired by (if any).

Officially, there are only two known US nuclear accidents which resulted in immediate or short-term radiation-related deaths:

Idaho Falls, Idaho - 1961 (3 immediate fatalities)

Charlestown, Rhode Island - 1964 (1 fatality - worker died in hospital within 48 hours)

But neither of these accidents seem to "fit" the events portrayed in the film, as I recall them.

So at this point, I can only draw two possible conclusions:

1) The horrific death portrayed in the film is one that has not been officially acknowledged by the US government and/or the nuclear power industry (i.e.: government/corporate cover-up).

2) My mystery film was a work of speculative cautionary fiction.

(Edited)
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Vincent Fournols

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I would definitely ignore all options but the last one!
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gromit82, Champion

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Johnny: I found a web page that lists various films and television productions that used Brian Eno's music, but I didn't see any plot descriptions that matched what you were describing. See http://www.enoweb.co.uk/ under the About Brian Eno >> Video menu. (I didn't see a direct URL to the page.)

(Edited)
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johnnyzero2

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Thanks for the suggestion - people are very helpful here.
I explored that page, and didn't see anything either.

If my recollections of this film weren't so specific and distinct, I could almost start to believe in the "false memory" theory. ;-)

This is starting to become a quest. I may consider contacting my local PBS station (WNET New York). I assume they might have programming logs going back to the 1980's.
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Ed Jones (XLIX)

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I looked at the first 4 seasons episodes of Frontline and found no related title.
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johnnyzero2

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Yes. It definitely wasn't Frontline. This film had a much quirkier structure, as compared to Frontline's more straight-ahead doc approach.

But thanks for your effort - much appreciated.
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Abinash Acharya

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Hello There!

The world's worst nuclear disaster, the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, occurred in 1986. It was a big deal even though it happened in Russia, and the news agencies around the world were buzzing with breaking news and articles and what not. The radiation had spread for thousands of miles, and some of the events that you said above match with the actual events of the disaster.

You mentioned a guy who died of radiation poisoning soon after. Sure enough, there were a lot of people who were exposed to radiation in the aftermath of the explosion during the cleanup process, and many died soon after.

Although it is not a US-specific disaster, it was (and still is) the worst nuclear disaster in history(a level 7 disaster), and I strongly believe that PBS must have covered this in the channel at the same time. I mean, why won't they, it sent shock waves around the world, and an entire city called Pripyat had to be vacated due to this. They say the city is still unsafe to visit even today.

P.S: I am not a US citizen, so I have no idea about PBS records. Do check their sites and historical records to confirm if this was the program covered. 
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MAthePA

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johnnyzero2, could it be seen in 2010s, but set in 1980s?
If yes, try back to the future that is the past for today:
https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/return-to-chernobyl/

The tags for PBS may also help: chernobylFukushima.
And this googling as the last resort. (The tags and search are clickable)
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Roy Hull

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Are you thinking of the China Syndrome starring Jane Fonda
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MAthePA

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The China Syndrome => where: "The diary sequences were accompanied by a very abstract image of what looked like a lone dark figure on an all-white hill or ski slope. Each time, as the guy's physical and mental condition deteriorated, the figure would be farther down the ski slope."?