Newspaper: The Sentinel
Date: April 7,1979
Article: 3-Mile crisis clouds future of nuclear uses: Thornburgh
Author: United Press International
HARRISBURG, Pa (UPI) - With the crisis ebbing at the Three Mile Island nuclear
power plant, Gov. Dick Thornburgh says he had "deep and serious" doubts
about the future of atomic power in Pennsylvania.
The governor said in an address Friday night that the remainder of his term in
office will be dedicated to making sure that an accident such as the one that
teetered on catastrophe at Three Mile Island "must not happen again."
"Like most of you, I always looked upon nuclear power as one of many ways
to conserve and expand energy resources here in Pennsylvania," he said.
"Like most of you, I always tempered my hopes with an obvious concern about
the safety of this awesome power we have placed within our communities.
"Like most of you, I now have doubts - deep and serious doubts - about opening
the plant on Three Mile Island again, about expanding nuclear power in Pennsylvania
and about assuming that we can't go back to safer things."
ENGINEERS, meanwhile, continued the slow process aimed at bringing the reactor
past the danger point. Final, cold shutdown of the reactor was expected late next
One of two pumps circulating water in the reactor pressure vessel failed Friday
but operators quickly turned on one of three backup pumps and the incident caused
additional harm to the uranium fuel core.
Specialists at the plant on an island in the Susquehanna River have activated
equipment to slow the leakage of radiation from the plant. But Thornburgh's office
said the governor was still advising pregnant women and young children to stay
out of a five-mile radius around the plant. The unborn and pre-school children
are most vulnerable to radiation exposure.
THE GOVERNOR said he soon hoped to be able to tell pregnant women and young children
that it is safe for them to go home.
"I shall treasure that moment for as long as I live," he said. "For
I believe it will mark the end of the most dangerous days of decision any governor
has had to face in this century."
At the plant, engineers Friday activated a gas removal system aimed at significantly
reducing the amount of radiation escaping into the environment.
When the system first was turned on, some radiation escaped and made its way out
of the plant. That leakage was eliminated later and the operation went as planned.
Although reactor conditions were reported stable, a mid-day blast of steam from
the second, non-operating unit at the plant startled observers. The NRC assured
area resident that the steam came from an oil-fired burner and was not radioactive.
In an indication of how things were going, the NRC's chief on the scene, Harold
Denton, announced at a late afternoon news conference Friday that emergency crews
were cutting back on their coverage in the control room. Between midnight and
6 a.m, only a skeleton crew would watch the instruments, monitoring the crippled
He also said the plant resumed dumping mildly radioactive waste water into the
In Washingoton, the White House sought to assure consumers food from the area
"Current readings show nothing to fear from food grown, harvested or produced
in that area," a White House official said.