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November 13, 1987

Before Chernobyl: Savannah River

Author Affiliations

E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co Savannah River Plant Aiken, SC

E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co Savannah River Plant Aiken, SC

JAMA. 1987;258(18):2527-2528. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03400180061017

To the Editor.—  Dr Johnson's1 statements concerning the Savannah River Plant are misleading. In 1956, approximately 5550 × 1010 Bq (1500 Ci) of iodine 131 were released from the Savannah River Plant. Unlike Three Mile Island, this was a chronic release that lasted for one year and was dispersed 360° around the plant, not predominantly in one direction like the short-term release from Three Mile Island. Hypothetical maximum doses to an infant living at the plant perimeter as calculated by dosimetry in use at that time were 4.8 mSv (480 mrem). If calculated by the Food and Drug Administration method used for Three Mile Island, the dose would have been about 2.6 mSv (260 mrem). By either method, these doses are within the current International Commission on Radiological Protection recommended limits for the public for a one-year exposure.When Dr Johnson states that an area of about 1000