|13th United States Ambassador to the United Nations|
March 15, 1976 â€“ January 19, 1977
|Preceded by||Daniel Moynihan|
|Succeeded by||Andrew Young|
|38th Governor of Pennsylvania|
January 15, 1963 â€“ January 17, 1967
|Preceded by||David Lawrence|
|Succeeded by||Raymond Shafer|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania’s 10th district
January 3, 1961 â€“ January 3, 1963
|Preceded by||Stanley Prokop|
|Succeeded by||Joseph McDade|
|Born||William Warren Scranton
(1917-07-19)July 19, 1917
Madison, Connecticut, U.S.
|Died||July 28, 2013(2013-07-28) (aged 96)
Montecito, California, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Mary Lowe Chamberlain (1942â€“2013; his death)|
|Alma mater||Yale University|
|Service/branch||United States Army Air Forces
United States Air Force
None of us knew what this power plant looked like. We had no schematic drawing.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
But the issue became, how long do you keep the press waiting so that you can gather more information?
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.
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.
The value of government to the people it serves is in direct relationship to the interest citizens themselves display in the affairs of state.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission and EPA, et cetera, had worked out what allowable releases are.
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.
And if you’re not going to have a clear health threat, you don’t want to panic people.
You need a graphic understanding of a situation to make a complete judgment and we didn’t have that.
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.
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.
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.
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.