Newspaper: The Evening Sentinel

Date: April 4, 1979

Title: Thornburgh Pessimistic about 3-mile Impact

Author: William C. Hoop, United Press International


HARRISBURG (UPI)-Gov. Dick Thornburgh was pleased with the news. He had been told the prospects of a catastrophe at Three Mile Island nuclear power plant-and the prospects of a mass evacuation-were lessened considerably.

But Thornburgh also was worried about the long-range impact of the worst nuclear power accident in U.S. history and about the role rumor and speculation had played during a week of tension.

"When you folks are all gone, we'll be here in Pennsylvania struggling to deal with residual public health problems, environmental integrity (and) the effect that this may have had on the economy of Pennsylvania, including our agricultural economy," Thornburgh told more than 100 reporters at a news briefing Tuesday night.

"Right now I can't tell you what the effects are. This is an unprecedented event with respect to the impact in all three of those areas. It means we have a substantial job to do after we assess what damage may have occurred."

"In my opinion, we stand at the point where the chances of any catastrophic event are greatly reduced. Maybe the worst is over. But I'm not so sure it doesn't mean that we're approaching a much more crucial interval for the future of Pennsylvania from the view of public health, environmental integrity and economic development."

THORNBURGH, who stated during his campaign for governor last year he was in favor of developing nuclear sources of energy, said in the wake of the Three Mile Island emergency he now has reservations about both new nuclear construction and the resumption of operation at existing plants.

"I think we'll have to await an assessment of precisely what happened, whether it can be rectified with appropriate safety measures (and) what the recommendations are from the investigation that President Carter has promised to undertake," Thornburgh said.

"I will certainly say this-that the burden of proof on those who would press for the early resumption of operation of Three Mile Island is extremely heavy."

"I think those who would press for any expansion of the present nuclear facilities in this state have a very heavy burden of proof."

Thornburgh said he felt one of the most serious problems during the nuclear emergency was "the unending flow of rumors hurled at us from a variety of sources."