Today’s post is written by David Langbart, an Archivist in the Textual Records Division at the National Archives at College Park.
Several investigations followed the near-disaster at Three Mile Island. The most important was the President’s Commission on the Accident at Three Mile Island established by President Jimmy Carter in April 1979. The twelve-member panel was chaired by John G. Kemeny, president of Dartmouth College, and commonly known as the Kemeny Commission. It was directed to complete its work and issue a report within six months. The completed study was issued on October 31.[i]
The report was of obvious interest to foreign officials and several expressed interest in receiving copies. In response, the Department of State notified selected American embassies of the key conclusions of the report in the following telegram, now part of the Central Foreign Policy Files (NAID 654098). As noted there, it also provided copies to the Washington embassies of the countries on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission alert list (see Part I) and the recipients of the telegram.
President Carter issued his response to the Kemeny Commission report on December 8 along with a White House fact sheet. The Department of State sent excerpts from the fact sheet to selected posts to use as briefing material in the following telegram.
For the full text of President Carter’s statement, see Department of State to All Diplomatic Posts, Telegram 316946, 8 Dec, 1979, 1979STATE316946, Central Foreign Policy Files, 1973-79/Electronic Telegrams, RG 59.
[i] For more detail on the Kemeny Commission see J. Samuel Walker Three Mile Island: A Nuclear Crisis in Historical Perspective (Berkeley: The University of California Press, 2004), p. 209-215.