President's Commission on the Accident at Three Mile Island was
established on April 11, 1979, by President Jimmy Carter, who instructed
it to inquire into a number of matters relating to the accident, and to
report to him within 6 months with recommendations based on its
Legislation granting the Commission the power to take testimony under oath
and to issue subpoenas was passed by Congress on May 21, 1979, and signed
by President Carter on May 23.
Commission designated specific areas of investigation for the staff to
undertake in order to meet the President's charges. The work of the
Commission staff was divided into a number of areas: technical assessment
of the events at Three Mile Island, public health and safety, emergency
preparedness and response, the role of the managing utility and its
suppliers, the role of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the public's
right to information. Concentrating on each was a task force consisting of
a number of full-time staff members and consultants. Panels of the
Commission oversaw the work product being developed by each task force.
full-time staff eventually grew to over 60 in number. It included
engineers, physicians, journalists, sociologists, lawyers, and
professional writers and editors. Many were from government agencies,
including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the
U.S. Department of Energy, and the U.S. Department of Justice.
legal staff work was directed by the Commission's Chief Counsel, Stanley
M. Gorinson, formerly Assistant Chief of the Transportation Section in the
Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice.*/
He directed three task forces: The Role of the Managing Utility and Its
Suppliers, headed by Winthrop A. Rockwell; Emergency Preparedness and
Response, headed by Charles A. Harvey, Jr.; and the Nuclear Regulatory
Commission, headed by Kevin P. Kane (who also served as Deputy Chief
Counsel) and Stan M. Helfman. Messrs. Kane, Rockwell, and Harvey had been
in private practice before coming to the Commission; Mr. Helfman was on
leave from the California Department of Justice.
Director of the Technical Staff was Vincent L. Johnson, formerly of NASA.**/
Mr. Johnson directed task forces in the following areas: Technical
Assessment of Events, headed by Leonard Jaffe of NASA; Public Health,
headed by Jacob I. Fabrikant of the University of California Medical
School at Berkeley; Emergency Preparedness, headed by Russell R. Dynes of
the American Sociological Association; and the Public's Right to
Information, headed by David M. Rubin of New York University.
Barbara Jorgenson served as the Commission's Public Information Director
and in addition was Executive Editor of the Commission's report and had
responsibility for congressional affairs. Ms. Jorgenson was on leave from
the National Academy of Sciences.
Messrs. Gorinson and Johnson and Ms. Jorgenson all reported directly to
the Chairman of the Commission.
During the course of its investigation, the Commission held 12 days of
public hearings; the staff conducted more than 150 depositions and
numerous interviews and reviewed hundreds of thousands of document pages.
Among other things, the Commission staff requested and reviewed the
results of computer analyses from several national laboratories and
performed its own technical analyses, conducted a content analysis of 43
newspapers, conducted a study into the behavioral effects of the accident,
and analyzed the emergency plans in effect at the time of the accident.
Commission's final product consists of its report, and more than 30 staff
reports, many of which have been published.
*/ Mr. Gorinson succeeded Ronald B. Natalie as Chief
Counsel on June 4, 1979.
**/ Mr. Johnson succeeded Bruce T. Liindin as Director of
the Technical Staff in July 1979, when Mr. Lundin became a Special
Consultant to the Chairman.