Thursday, December 3, 2009

Critics say TMI forgot '79 lessons

From the Patriot News:

The Three Mile Island nuclear station's former operators learned from the 1979 partial reactor meltdown that there's no such thing as overcommunication about TMI.

Two former spokesmen for GPU Nuclear Corp., which operated the facility after the 1979 accident, said that based on lessons learned from that incident, they subsequently alerted local officials about every minor event at the plant, such as when an ambulance was called or a steam release was loud.

They issued so many notifications that officials receiving them complained.

"The operation of a nuclear power plant is based on trust, and communication is an exercise in trust," said Douglas Bedell of Cornwall, who was a communication manager for GPU Nuclear.

Bedell and Joe Benish, who joined GPU Nuclear's communication staff six months after the 1979 accident, said they find it puzzling that Exelon Corp., which operates the facility now, did not alert state officials to last Saturday's radiation leak inside a TMI reactor building until more than five hours after it occurred.

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