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August 03, 1979 - Image 11

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1979-08-03

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WASHINGTON (AP) - The accident at
the Three Mile Island nuclear power
plant might have been prevented if
plant operators had let safety equip-
ment function as it was designed to do,
according to a report by the staff of the
Nuclear Regulatory Commission,
The NRC Office of Inspection and En-
forcement, in a report to the com-
mission yesterday, said it still is in-
vestigating about 35 possible violations
of federal rules in connection with the
March 28 accident near Harrisburg,
"PERHAPS THE most disturbing
results of the ... investigation is con-
firmation of earlier conclusions that the
Three Mile Island Unit 2 accident could
have been prevented, in spite of the
inadequacies" investigators discovered
at the plant, said Victor Stello Jr.,
'director of inspection and enforcement,
in a summary of the staff report.
Stello said the design, equipment, ac-
cident analyses, and emergency
procedures at Three Mile Island "were
adequate to have prevented the serious
consequences of the accident, if they
had been permitted to function or be
carried out as planned."
He said that if operators at the
facility had allowed the plant's
emergency core cooling system to per-
form as it was designed to do, "damage
to the core would most likely have been
BUT WHAT actually happened was
that the core of the reactor, which con-
tains radioactive fuel rods, was
severely damaged by overheating. The
damage released intense radiation in-
side the reactor building and plant
power plan
must wait
has all the appearance of a rationing
plan but it's really not a rationing plan
that makes any rational sense."
Byrd urged the House and Senate
negotiators on the bill to "get together
during the recess and try to work out
this thing."
BUT OTHER congressional leaders
said they didn't expect formal con-
ference sessions actually to begin until
early September - although they said
staff sessions to develop ground rules
on the bill were likely during August.
Byrd also dismissed the svmbolic
importance of producing a bill, saying
"Symbolism is not the issue. There is no
gain in passing a plan for the purpose of
symbolism if the plan isn't going to
White House and congressional
energy specialists met most of the day
trying to devise a strategy for rushing a
compromise bill 'through Congress
before the beginning of the four-week
But they gave up in mid-afternoon af-
ter realizing it couldn't be done -
especially in light of House Speaker
Thomas O'Neill's assertion that he in-
tended to stick to his plan to recess the
House at 6 p.m.
Senate leaders said one of the House
amendments they object to the most is
one allowing businesses to ignore the
78-degree national thermostat-setting
requirement if they can save an
equivalent amount of energy in other

The Michigan Daily-Friday; August 3, 1979-Page 11
Et. nuke disaster was preventablea
operators still are unable to enter the temperatures were destroying the TH E REPOR T did not allege any
building for inspection and clean-up plant's fuel rods. They then shut off an violations of NRC rules. But it noted
operations automatic emergency water supply that "potential items of non-
The building may have to remain system designed to cool the reactor. compliance" were found. It said those
sealed at least through the end of this But the report said plant operators items "are under review,"
year, probably do not hold sole responsibility In a briefing for the NRC com-
- The report said operators at Three for the accident. missioners, staff members said th6y
Mile Island misinterpreted the nature "Had certain equipment been found 19 potential areas in which the
of the accident as it was taking place designed differently, it too could have plant was not being operated in com-
and took inappropriate actions to try to prevented or reduced the consequences pliance with federal regulations. The
correct the problem. of the accident," Stello wrote. "The report to the commissioners noted, for
INVESTIGATORS concluded, for in- results of the investigation make it dif- example, that valves operating
stance, that operators did not believe ficult to fault only the actions of the emergency cooling systems were
instruments telling them that high operating staff." closed when they should have been



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