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November 13, 1987

Before Chernobyl: Savannah River-Reply

Author Affiliations

South Dakota Department of Health Pierre

South Dakota Department of Health Pierre

JAMA. 1987;258(18):2528. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03400180061018

In Reply.—  I have accurately cited a Savannah River Plant (SRP) internal health physics report1 of a clandestine release of 5831 × 1010 Bq (1576 Ci) of iodine 131 in 1956, about 105 times larger than the 55.5 × 1010 Bq (15 Ci) alleged by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to have been released from the Three Mile Island nuclear plant accident.2,3 (Other reports3-5 indicate Three Mile Island releases were several orders of magnitude greater.) That formerly secret SRP health physics report sharply contradicts a later SRP publication6 that reported no131I releases in 1956, acknowledging only a release of 0.7826 × 1010 Bq (0.2115 Ci) of129I.Dr Hightower cites estimates of a maximum hypothetical dose to an infant living at the plant perimeter to be about 4.8 mSv (480 mrem) (or 2.6 mSv [260 mrem] by the Food and Drug Administration