Newspaper: The Patriot
Date: March 30, 1979
Title: Students Measure Extent of Fallout
Author: Chuck Muir, Staff Writer
Chinese weapons testers taught students at Hummelstown more about nuclear radiation than has one of the more serious accident in a nuclear fallout just a few miles away at the Three Mile Island nuclear generating station.
The last Chinese nuclear bomb test sort of rang the bell on radiation monitors used by nuclear science students at the Lower Dauphin High School, but radiation discharged after an equipment failure Wednesday at TMI barely pushed levels above normal.
Teacher Vernon Lyter says “usually there’s nothing to monitor,” so his students viewed the TMI emergency as a chance to see the detectors detect. Two students Thursday made a field trip to two elementary schools close to the power station; others tested at the high school.
Readings at Londonberry School, closest to TMI, were “about 10 to 15 percent above normal,” 15 counts per minute on a scintillation counter. Normal fluctuations “run that high,” Lyter said.
He said he would be concerned only if the counter, an unsophisticated device, showed 1,000 counts per minute. Even the readout from the Chinese bomb fallout, higher than from the TMI fallout, was considerably below that.
Readings recorded by students “were much, much higher, about 100 to 250 percent above normal, after the Chinese nuclear weapons testing” Lyter said.
The count was below normal at Conewago School, about four miles from TMI, and slightly above normal at the high school.