Newspaper: The Patriot
Date: March 29, 1979
Title: Area Officials Concerned Over ‘Proper’ Notification
CARLISLE-Cumberland County Commissioner Jacob A. Myers Wednesday called for an investigation into whether “proper timely notice” was given to county officials after the accident at the Three Mile Island Generating Station.
In Dauphin County, Commission Chairman John E. Minnich said he would not rule out the possibility of calling for an investigation, but added he first plans to talk to Kevin J. Molloy, director of the county’s Emergency Preparedness office.
Minnich did say that, “What has happened here has somewhat destroyed the credibility of nuclear proponents” who say an accident could not happen.
Two state lawmakers, Rep. Stephen R. Reed, D-Harrisburg, and Rep. Eugene Geesy, R-York, Wednesday sponsored a House resolution calling for the Mines and Emergency Management Committee to investigate the accident.
Rep. James Wright, committee chairman, agreed to the investigation at the legislator’s request. The first public meeting will be Monday at 1 p.m. in the Main Capitol Building.
Minnich said he first learned of the incident Wednesday morning from Molloy. He said he did not “get the feelings from Kevin that there was a problem on notification. Everything seemed to be in order.”
Minnich said he would not say whether the county received sufficient notice of the accident until he talks to Molloy” to see if there were some shortcomings.”
Minnich and fellow Commissioners Earl R. Reider and Earl B. Hoffman are to be in New York City Thursday to meet with Moody’s Investors Service to discuss the county’s credit rating. Minnich said he will talk to Molloy Friday.
Reed, who chairs the Disaster Services committee at Harrisburg River Rescue Inc., said the accident “proved the state was unprepared to deal with any major nuclear incident.” He announced a push for legislation he introduced March 7 related to nuclear safety.
Cumberland County’s Emergency Preparedness Office was given verbal notification by a state Civil Defense official at 8:30 a.m. and a written statement was issued at 3:30 p.m. by Oran Henderson, state Civil Defense director.
Molly said his office received verbal notification of the accident at 7:09 a.m. and was advised that it did not affect the public.
The accident, resulting in a leak of radiation into the atmosphere, occurred at 4 a.m., according to officials for Metropolitan Edison, one of the consortiums of utilities which operate the nuclear generating plant.
“From the emergency management point of view,” Myers said, “I want our emergency management personnel to determine whether proper timely notice was given to emergency personnel by the plant to allow time for necessary precautions.”
Myers said he could not understand the approach-not wanting to alarm the public-taken by officials in charge of releasing information. But he noted that there is a fine line between unnecessarily alarming people and not providing sufficient notice to emergency personnel to accommodate evacuations or other safety precautions.
He said he will ask Thomas Blosser, county emergency preparedness director, to conduct an in-depth study and pursue with state officials the question of the apparent discrepancy in time between the accident and the notification.
Part of the problem, Myers said, is the public’s general lack of knowledge about nuclear plants. “What we know least about is always more of concern.”