Letter: Radioactivity at Three Mile Island

Sir: Grant Hole (Letters, 18 June) is both right and wrong. He is correct in saying that radioactive xenon and krypton entered the environment following the Three Mile Island accident, but wrong in implying that the releases were significant.

To say that xenon and krypton are released from nuclear power installations is a truism - it is the amount that matters. One US expert, reporting to a conference in Germany, stated that he received a larger dose on his flight than if he had sat on the site fence throughout the accident.

The Three Mile Island accident was thoroughly examined by the US regulatory authorities including the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the health authorities of the State of Pennsylvania; they concluded that there were no significant public health effects due to the radiological releases.

It is important to note that all of these reports are subject to the Freedom of Information legislation and are a matter of public record.

It is therefore misleading to put Three Mile Island in the same class or context as Chernobyl (or Windscale, itself small compared with Chernobyl) in terms of damage to public health and the environment.

IVOR ROWLANDS Frodsham, Cheshire