Q: Why is it that people aren't thinking about the core?|
RM: I think there was a mindset and the origins of the mindset are in all of
the preparations and precautions that people had taken to prevent such an
accident. It's hard to believe that having put all that work, all that
training, all that money in preventing an accident, that it had actually
happened or that it happened on your watch, so to speak. Those of us at NRC
didn't want an accident and it was hard for us to believe that one of that
severity had occurred. I don't know the people that were in the control room,
but I suspect they felt pretty much the same way. Some have called that
mindset a cognitive dissonance, that you don't want to hear the truth and so
you shut it from your mind. I think the first couple of days that there was
some of that mindset, on all sides.
Q: What was the one spark that turned this event from an ordinary transient
to a serious accident?
RM: I suspect that everyone involved in the accident had a different moment at
which it dawned on them that it was out of the ordinary, that it was, as we
call it today, a "severe accident." For me, I think that was Thursday night or
early Friday morning in looking at the temperature data from the core. I had
been asked to gather a group of people together to look at the thermocouple
data and try to interpret what it meant. And as we pondered it, as we thought
about it and studied that information in the early hours of Friday morning, the
only way we could explain it was if there had been a severe damage to the core,
if the core had, in fact, melted in some portions.
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