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Roger Mattson on: Realizing There Was a Problem
Roger Mattson 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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