You clearly have radioactive air. The situation is still not under control because there's still radioactivity coming out into the atmosphere.
When I started walking and I looked down and I saw on the floor this water, which looked like, you know, water in your basement except it happened to be in the auxiliary building of a nuclear power plant.
We were talking about radiation, which generates an enormous amount of fear. This was unknown and so there were no plans for that.
There were schools and hospitals who were ready to take people with undescribed injuries, but not necessarily ready to take people with severe radiation poisoning.
They're calling their Washington sources at the NRC or in Congress and they're not hesitating to give their opinion, but their opinion, frankly, in those early days was not very well informed.
Obviously, I'm not looking in the core of the reactor, but I am looking at what, at that time, was considered the source of the trouble, which was the water and where it was.
What is going on on the island is encouraging a cacophony of opinion, freely donated by whoever has a microphone in front of their mouth.
My time inside there was very short compared to the amount of time it took to take on and take off this suit and to test me for how much radioactivity I have.
I mean, obviously, people don't like to know that somebody's venting that, but you have sulfur dioxide coming out of power plants.
None of us knew what this power plant looked like. We had no schematic drawing.
Getting you ready to go into an area of radioactivity is an enormously complicated undertaking which requires actually very precise moves.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission and EPA, et cetera, had worked out what allowable releases are.
But the issue became, how long do you keep the press waiting so that you can gather more information?
So very quickly we tried to learn what those allowable limits were and discern whether there was danger of those limits being breached.
You're in an unfriendly, to say the least, atmosphere, so you have to be completely protected from it, from every molecule of oxygen that's there.
The public schools, trade schools and research schools, these are the coal mines of the 21st century,
All of the information that we were getting up to that time from the NRC people, from our people who knew something about nuclear power, was that the breach of the core was not a likelihood to happen.
And it was at that point that I realized, in fact, our whole administration realized, that we could not rely on Metropolitan Edison for the kind of information we needed to make decisions.
There are allowable limits for radiation going - I mean there's radiation all around us. There's radiation from your television set. There's radiation from your computer. There's radiation actually occurring in the ground.
(Lawmakers) claimed it was for their hard work. Well, you don't reward people for working hard. You reward people for getting results,
What I had said in the morning was that this is what we know has happened, but there has been no significant off-site release. Only to find out moments later that, in fact, there had been an off-site release. I still haven't gotten over that.
So what I bring to the table is a knowledge and experience at creating opportunity,
And at ten, or whatever time, in the morning we had the press conference, what we knew is there had been an incident at Three Mile Island, that it was shut down, that there was water that had escaped but it was contained.
You're feeling the responsibility for hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people on your shoulder in a way that I couldn't feel as lieutenant governor.
These were professionals who were clearly working hard to get on top of things and were doing that, at least insofar as they could.
It took me 45 minutes to get in all of the suits and putting all the dosimeters on me so that they knew how much radiation I got and the protective boots and everything.
And I remember walking in there and, I must say, I was quite unnerved the closer I got to it.
None of us are nuclear experts, but we know that if there is a melt-down and breach of containment, that's clearly the most odious thing that could happen.
Another very strong image from the first day was giving my initial press conference in the morning - going down and finding out that everything I had said, the essence of what I had said, was wrong.
You need a graphic understanding of a situation to make a complete judgment and we didn't have that.
By Thursday morning, we'd gotten over the worst of it.
I was scheduled to give my first official press conference that morning anyway, 'cause I was chairman of the Governors Energy Council and I was making a press conference with regard to energy policy.
Nobody could tell us or really had a very good idea, if there were a massive release of radiation, what kind of medical treatment people were going to need and this or that, or, indeed, whether there would be medical personnel around.
So, I was in a sense like a news anchor while reporters were out there trying to gather the information. That's what happened initially anyway.
The value of government to the people it serves is in direct relationship to the interest citizens themselves display in the affairs of state.
The first one, obviously, was walking into my office at eight o'clock in the morning on Wednesday, and being told there was a telephone call saying that there was an incident at Three Mile Island, and that it had shut down and that beyond that we didn't know.
And if you're not going to have a clear health threat, you don't want to panic people.
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