April 2, 1979 – The nuclear Power plant accident at Three Mile Island, near Harrisburg Pennsylvania was continuing. Amid signs of optimism that the #2 reactor didn’t completely melt down, officials were upbeat that the worst of the disaster was over as the gas bubble was dissipating and temperatures near the core were reducing. However, those cautiously bright assessments were met with a goodly degree of cynicism and doubt from the residents living near the damaged reactor. Residents were initially evacuated some five miles from the site, while residents as much as twenty miles away were evacuated two days later. Overall, some 140,000 people left the area and no amount of positive spin from the NRC was going to convince people that nuclear energy wasn’t the panacea it was cracked up to be. The protests would come later, but on April 2nd, people wanted answers and they wanted them straight.
Meanwhile, Energy Chief James Schlesinger told reporters, following his testimony on Capitol Hill that demands by some that nuclear reactors similar to the one at Three Mile Island be shut down, hold off until further study was done to determine exactly what the problem was. President Carter was expected to disclose new Administration Energy policies later on in the week, possibly in a nationally broadcast address.
And Republican efforts to cool down Federal spending collapsed in the House as Treasury Secretary Blumenthal wrote a letter to the House Speaker, warning that some $8 billion worth of Social Security checks, already in the mail would bounce unless Congress approved a new and higher debt ceiling and did it right away. Treasury sources were also saying that Blumenthal had ordered a halt to the mailing of Income Tax refund checks. The House, faced with the possibility of a mini-default by Uncle Sam quickly abandoned the argument over balanced budgets and sent the ceiling-raiser to the President’s desk.
And that’s a little of what went on, this April 2nd 1979 as reported by CBS Radio Hourly news.