From: "Russell D. Hoffman" <>
Subject: What should we call TMI?
January 24th, 2002

FYI --

I have a copy of the REPORT OF THE PRESIDENT'S COMMISSION ON THE ACCIDENT AT THREE MILE ISLAND, which is subtitled THE NEED FOR CHANGE:  THE LEGACY OF TMI and dated October, 1979 (Washington, D.C.).

So at least at that point, the President's Commission was calling it an "accident".  Here's the last paragraph of the report (on page 161):

Thus, the accident at Three Mile Island, in a very real sense, continues and will continue until the years-long cleanup of TMI-2 is completed.  Workers will receive additional radiation doses until the decontamination process is completed; five workers in late August, for example, received doses in excess of the NRC's quarterly limits for exposure to the skin or the extremities.  And there still remains some risk to the general public that released radiation could escape from the Island.

Sure enough, years later workers were still being contaminated, in 1989 for instance when two workers received high doses when they accidentally touched the reactor (oops). (source: Greenpeace)

The document states that 600,000 gallons of "contaminated water" (in excess of 100 microcuries per milliliter) pooled in the containment building, 90,000 more gallons pooled in the "reactor containment system", and another 380,000 gallons was contaminated to a lesser degree and pooled at the site.  At the time of the report, they could still not enter the containment building because of "radioactive gases".

They had to actually MANUFACTURE KI for distribution to the masses, a process which started on Saturday, March 31st, 1979 (the accident started in the early hours of March 28th).  The director of the Bureau of Radiation Protection wanted "his people" at TMI to be issued the drug in case of further radiation releases, but the head of the state's health department, Gordon MacLeod, refused, "He argued that if the public learned that any of the drug had been issued, a demand for its public distribution would result."

Strong logic there, eh?  "Washington" evidently didn't think so, according to the document, and a group headed by Donald Fredrickson, director of the National Institutes of Health, developed standards that would have distributed the drug to workers at the plant who would be advised to take the drug, and also to citizens within about 10 miles of the plant, who would be advised to simply hold onto it in case of further releases.  (Radioiodine levels did not, apparently, actually indicate its use to the general public at the time, but the accident was still unfolding).

MacLeod rejected the federal recommendations, and the drug "remained in a warehouse under armed guard throughout the emergency.  In midsummer, the FDA moved the drug to Little Rock, Arkansas, for storage."


Russell D. Hoffman
Concerned Citizen (and former resident of Pennsylvania)
Carlsbad, CA