Scientists the world over are using the nuclear plant at Three Mile Island as a laboratory for what can go wrong with atomic energy.
Experts from France, West Germany and Belgium - countries that rely heavily on the atom for energy - as well as from Australia and Japan were dispatched to the crisis area for investigations.
There were anti-nuclear outcries in West Germany, France and Switzerland, emergency inspections of reactors throughout Asia, and in South Korea a nuclear plant leaking radiation was shut down.
In an apparent effort to allay rising public fears in their countries, scientists in Finland, Sweden, West Germany, France, Britain and Belgium said their safety standards far exceed those in the United States.
Japan, the only nation to suffer the destructive power of the atom, has sent an official to Washington to gather information on the accident and will send a scientist from Tokyo to the Pennsylvania site.
In public protests against atomic energy, French ecological groups demanded an immediate halt to nuclear plant construction and said the country's nuclear reactors were as unsafe as the Harrisburg plant because they were built under U.S. license using pressurized water reactors.
In Germany, 40,000 people demonstrated peacefully against plans to build a $6.3 million plant at Gorleben in lower Saxony.
Switzerland's Socialist Party charged that the Swiss population has been "lulled into a state of false security" about nuclear growth.
Last month Swiss voters in a national referendum rejected a proposal by anti-nuclear groups that all nuclear power plant construction first be approved by people living in the immediate vicinity. In May, they will vote whether to give Parliament the power to permit or reject the building of new nuclear facilities.
In the face of steadily rising oil import prices, French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing called a special Cabinet meeting today to approve construction of several new nuclear power plants in addition to the 42 already in use.