Newspaper: The Patriot
Date: March 30, 1979
Title: Radioactive Iodine Traces: Milk Producers ‘Wait’
Author: Mark Klaus, Staff Writer
Harrisburg area dairy industry spokesmen have adopted a wait-and-see attitude after federal regulators found some radioactivity in milk samples taken from near the Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant after a radiation leak Wednesday.
“Threshold levels” of radioactive iodine were found in milk samples in the area, according to Ed Jordan, Nuclear Regulatory Commission assistant director of reactor operations inspection. But Jordan said there was no immediate threat to health from the radiation.
Milk samples taken from seven area cows found that one cow had an iodine concentration of 20 picocuries per liter, according to Thomas Gerusky, director of the Department of Environmental Resources’ Bureau of Radiological Protection.
He said that during a previous fallout from a Chinese nuclear bomb, hundreds of picocuries per liter were found in milk.
“The Department of Agriculture has taken four samples of milk from farms in a certain radius,” John Nikoloss, public information officer for the state Department of Agriculture, said. “The Department of Environmental Resources will conduct tests.”
Nikoloss said he was “basically not concerned about a problem of radiation in milk because we’ve not gotten a statement from DER that the radiation is sufficient to cause harm.”
SPOKESMEN FROM two area diaries said they had not been informed of radioactivity in their milk.
“We are not aware of any radioactivity in our product,” according to George Nagel, sales manager at Lenkerbrook Farms Milk, 7750 Allentown Blvd.
He said Lenkerbrook cows are feeding inside, not grazing outside, and the state Milk Sanitation and Animal Industry bureaus are monitoring the situation closely. Wengerts Dairy in Lebanon processes Lenkerbrook’s milk.
“Naturally we’re upset because this adversely affects our business,” Jim Smith, assistant to the president at Harrisburg Dairies, 20th and Herr Streets, said. “But as of now, we have no reports of contamination.”
Both Nagel and Smith said although people seem concerned, they are not at a panic stage.
“I got about 30 calls from customers but they’re not panicking,” Nagel said. “They don’t seem overly concerned. Lenkerbrook got more calls on this problem than the Chinese one, I guess because this is local. We only got four or five calls the last time.”
Smith said Harrisburg Dairies has had “quite a few inquiries today, but not as many as during the Chinese scare.”