Newspaper: The Evening Sentinel

Date: April 3, 1979

Title: Radiation Release Harmless- Officials

Author: United Press International


HARRISBURG (UPI)-Radiation seeping from the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant accident site has been in relatively small and harmless amounts so far, federal and state authorities agree.

But Harold Denton, chief Nuclear Regulatory Commission official at the scene, said no plans have been made to get rid of extremely large amounts of radiation still sealed up inside the reactor containment room. At a press briefing Monday, he called it a "long-term problem."

Thomas Gerusky, director of the Pennsylvania Bureau of Radiological Health, said at least some of the built-up radiation probably will get out into the atmosphere when engineers attempt to get things back to normal at the plant.

"SOME OF THIS will be released to the atmosphere-no doubt about it-when they're trying to can it up," said Gerusky, who is Gov. Dick Thornburgh's top health expert on the scene and the man who advises the governor about precautionary evacuation concerns.

Denton said radiation levels of 30,000 rems have been measured at the containment building dome. That is equal to about 1 million chest x-rays.

Concrete walls 3 feet thick now protect the public from that radiation.

The massive radiation clean up task has been pushed to one side by the need to halt radiation leaks that have seeped from Three Mile Island since the accident occurred there six days ago.
The latest off-site radiation readings taken by the Energy Department showed a total exposure of 1,000-2,000 man-rems to a 10-mile radius of the plant site, and 10,000 man-rems to a 50-mile radius.

The "man-rem" calculation multiples the number of people exposed by the exposure each received. NRC and state officials believe the most any individual received was 100 millirems, equal to about three chest x-rays.

Gerusky said the 1972 National Science Foundation report, entitled "Biological Effects of Ironizing Radiation," estimated one or two extra cancers could be expected with a 10,000 man-rem dose.

"IF IT continues at this pace, you'll never be able to tell that this plant was there except for all the hysteria, from the heart attacks, and "hypertension," Gerusky said. "Your chances of getting killed in an auto accident are much greater.