Report Of The President's Commission On
The Accident At Three Mile Island           > TMI-2 > Kemeny

Quick Links:

Report Index

The Commission

Senior Staff







The Accident



Commission Operations and Methodology

The 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 investigatory findings.

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.

The 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.

The 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.

The 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.

The 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.

The 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.