40 years after Three Mile Island accident, some still question health impacts

LONDONDERRY TOWNSHIP, DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. - March 28th, 2019 marks 40-years since unit two on Three Mile Island partially melted down, releasing radiation into the air. While most studies done over the years claim the radioactive release had no detectable effects on people working or living near the plant, not everyone is convinced that's true.

"Even though they claim there's no link," said Colette Caba, who was later diagnosed with thyroid cancer. "I truly believe someday it will come out that is was a direct result of the TMI incident."

Caba was 8-years-old the day of the partial meltdown. Seventeen-years later, she had a lump on her throat though it wasn't causing her pain or discomfort, she got checked by a doctor.

"I remember it clearly," said Caba. "It was on my 25th birthday and the doctor was like, 'oh, you have thyroid cancer."

Caba isn't the only one who lived near TMI during the partial meltdown and was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Darla Hess was 19-years-old when the accident happened. She was living 12 miles away from TMI at the time. About two-years after the accident, there was a lump on her thyroid.

"The gynecologist found it and they just kept an eye on it for eight years," said Hess. "I was just seeing doctors and having ultrasounds and not really worried about it."

Even though tests came back negative for cancer, a doctor encouraged Hess, at 29-years-old, to get the lump removed to help with discomfort.

"So I had it taken out and here it was cancer," said Hess. "But I was lucky because the surgery took care of it."

A 2017 small study done by a doctor at Penn State Hershey College of Medicine found there could be a possible correlation to a certain type of thyroid cancer caused by low level radiation and people living near TMI during and after the partial meltdown. Both Hess and Caba believe more needs to be done to look into this correlation and it not just be brushed off as a coincidence.

"You kind of feel they don't care about all the effect it had on these people," said Caba.

You can expect more coverage on the 40th anniversary of Three Mile Island's partial meltdown beginning on Fox43 News This Morning at 4 a.m. on Thursday, 3/28.

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