Newspaper: The Sentinel
Date: April.9, 1979
Article: Thornburgh questions nuclear power
Author: Scott Macleod
HARRISBURG - Gov. Dick Thornburgh, a supporter of nuclear energy during his campaign
for the governorship last year, says in the aftermath of Three Mile Island he
is skeptical of nuclear power because of safety risks.
During his 1978 gubernatorial campaign, Thornburgh said he supported development
of the nuclear industry providing safeguards could be assured.
Thornburgh said he had doubts about a reopening of the Three Mile Island facility,
owned mostly by Metropolitan Edison Co. "I want to know if its safe,"
The governor, who was in office only 72 days when the accident occurred March
28, indicated he believed he does not - and never has had - intractable views
bout the safety of nuclear power.
"I can't carry out my responsibilities to govern this state if there is an
uneasiness in my mind or the public's mind about the safety of any kind of facility,"
said Thornburgh, who appeared weary from the strain of events.
Here are some answers Thornburgh gave during the interview:
Why Thornburgh advised pregnant women and little children to leave the five-mile
radius of Three Mile Island:
"The facts as presented by Harold Denton (the U.S. Nuclear Regulator Commission's
No.1 man on the scene) and by relevant environmental and health people indicated
that they have not completed the processes which would reduce to zero the probability
for occasional puffs, small amounts of radiation.
"We don't want people who are susceptible to be there."
When Thornburgh will give the signal for pregnant women and little children to
return to their homes:
"The kind of advice I'm looking for from Denton and the technological side
is that they've licked these problems (of radiation leakage) and the assessment
from our health and environmental people that it is therefore safe for these susceptible
people to return.
"The hope that was expressed was that it would be in a short period of time."
Why Thornburgh did not order evacuation of almost half million persons although
the state civil defense was ready to do it if necessary:
"When we had a briefing by Mr. Denton (on March 30), it was apparent that
there was no cause for an evacuation at that time."