Newspaper: The Evening Sentinel

Date: April 5, 1979

Title: County Work on Evacuation is Continuing

Author: Deb Cline, Associate Editor


If a precautionary evacuation were called, farmers might be able to return to their farms for short periods of time to take care of livestock.

But county officials meeting with farmers Wednesday night said any provision for them to return to the evacuated area would depend on the level of radiation.

"Our primary concern is your safety," a state official said.

Evacuation of the area around the Three Mile Island nuclear power generating plant is only a remote possibility now as thousands of families who had left the area on their own began returning home Wednesday.

The meeting Wednesday was one of the last of a series of evacuation contingency plan briefings various groups in the county have received since the nuclear accident more than a week ago.

Don Overdorff, county extension agent, said the plan now is that in case of an evacuation farmers from the evacuated areas would assemble at the county extension office on Claremont Road.

"ONCE THE area is cleared, the situation would be assessed by the county as to whether it's safe to re-enter," Overdorff said.

Farmers would be given identification, possibly even before evacuation were called, enabling them to get back into the evacuation area for short periods of time.

Officials did not rule out the possibility of removing some livestock, particularly prize animals from the area once all the people are out.

Officials urged farmers to consider problems they might face in a possible evacuation and relay them to county agents or other officials.

Also Wednesday, county commissioners and emergency personnel met with representatives of the business community Wednesday to discuss problems they might have during a possible evacuation and how the county can help offset long-term negative effects of the plant accident.
A major concern now is preventing tourists and businesses from shunning the central Pennsylvania area.

County Commissioner Chairman Nelson Punt said the decision by five convention groups not to come to the area this spring will have a bad economic impact.

A BUSINESSMAN also told commissioners some western meat packers and other food transporters are reluctant to ship their commodities through the area.

In addition to fear of contamination, these people are concerned about food being left in the area should an evacuation occur.

County solicitor John Broujos, who has been working on the emergency plans, said Wednesday, "We will press for solving that production of what to tell out-of-state businesses. That will be a long-range impact of Three Mile Island."

One way to help avert some possible long-term negative effects of the nuclear accident is to return to an attitude of normality, said Oran Henderson, state civil defense director.

During a visit to Cumberland County Wednesday, Henderson said, "All of us in working together can set this kind of tone, in trying to get things back to normal. Rumors should be squelched at every opportunity."

Henderson said the counties surrounding Three Mile Island now have excellent contingency plans.

After reviewing Cumberland's plan Tuesday, he said, "I know specifically it will work. Although we're not anticipating any kind of evacuation, if something unforeseen happens, Cumberland could manage an evacuation or any other mission it's called on to do."

Henderson said before the Three Mile Island accident, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission required contingency evacuation plans in areas within a five-mile radius of the facility.

He believes the NRC may expand that requirement to 10 miles around the plant.

But he said the chance of ever having to evacuate beyond 20 miles is remote.