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

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The Commission

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The Accident


Commission Findings:


1.  Training of Met Ed operators and supervisors was inadequate and contributed significantly to the seriousness of the accident. The training program gave insufficient emphasis to principles of reactor safety.

2.  The TMI training program conformed to the NRC standard for training. Moreover, TMI operator license candidates had higher scores than the national average on NRC licensing examinations and operating tests. Nevertheless, the training of the operators proved to be inadequate for responding to the accident.

3.  NRC standards allowed a shallow level of operator training.

a.  The Operator Licensing Branch activities were principally restricted to preparing and giving initial licensing examinations and occasional visits to vendors for an informal spot check of start-up certification tests. The branch was heavily involved in the initial start-up of the B&W cold licensing program in the early 1970s. A paper review of B&W's course for new plant operator training was performed without comment in 1976.

b.  NRC prescribed only minimal requirements for operator training. There were no minimum educational requirements for operators; there was no requirement for checks to be made on the psychological fitness of candidates or whether they had criminal records.

c.  An individual could fail parts of either the NRC licensing examination or the utility requalification examination, including sections on emergency procedures and equipment, and still pass the overall examination by getting a passing average score, and qualify to operate the reactor.

d.  The NRC had no criteria for the qualifications of those individuals who carry out the operator training program. It also did not conduct regular in-depth reviews of the training programs.

 4.  Met Ed had primary responsibility for the training of operators. The quality of the training program at TMI was low.

a.  The training program was quantitatively and qualita- tively understaffed as well as conceptually weak; emphasis was not given to fundamental understanding of the reactor and little time was devoted to instruction in the biological hazards of radiation. The content was left to the instructors, who had no greater formal educational qualifications than those of their students.

b.  TMI-2's station manager, unit superintendent, and supervisor of operations were not involved in operator training.

c.  With NRC approval, the unit superintendent and the station manager at TMI were only required to acquire the experience and training necessary to be examined for a senior reactor operator license, but were not required to hold such a license.

d.  Although auxiliary operators performed tasks that could affect reactor power level or involve the handling of radioactive material, there was no formally defined training program for them.

e.  Met Ed did not request waivers from employees with naval reactor experience to allow examination of their Navy records.

5.  TMI contracted with B&W to carry out a portion of the TMI operator training. B&W performed only those functions specifically required under the agreement.

a.  There was little interaction in B&W between those who conducted training and those responsible for nuclear plant design. Course content and conduct of courses were made up by the B&W training department, entirely on its own. There were no formal syllabi or training manuals.

b.  The simulator at B&W was a key tool in the training of operators. Simulator training did not include preparation of the operators for multiple-failure accidents. Indeed, the B&W simulator was not, prior to March 28, programmed to reproduce the conditions that confronted the operators during the accident. It was unable to simulate increasing pressurizer level at the same time that reactor coolant pressure was dropping.