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Roger Mattson on: The Turning Point
Roger Mattson Q: So Sunday is a turning point?

RM: Sunday's a turning point, yes, indeed. It's a turning point in terms of the reactor cooling off. It's a turning point, in terms of people taking a chance to be rested. There still were people who hadn't slept in three or four days. It's a turning point in bringing more brain power to the site. The industry marshalled a team of experts to come to the site. Denton and Stello and I arranged for leadership to come in to back up the Metropolitan Edison leadership. The understanding of the core is better. The appreciation that it really has been a core melt accident is spreading among the advisors. So there's no more cognitive dissonance. There's no more mindset that "This isn't as bad as we think. It is as bad as we think, but it's stable and improving." So Sunday is a turning point. Things are getting better.

Q: So when could you take your first deep breath?

RM: I didn't take a deep breath for 30 days, until we were able to place the reactor on natural circulation cooling, turn off the main cooling pump, watch the temperatures, make sure they didn't rise and know we had it in a condition where it would cool by itself for the indefinite future. Any time in between, if a pump had failed, if a mistake had been made in opening a valve, we were still in fairly uncharted territory. Now that doesn't mean it was dangerous after Sunday. It certainly got a lot better after Sunday, but there was still the potential for it to get worse and people paid a lot of attention. A lot of money was spent. A lot of bright people were brought to the site to try to keep it from getting any worse.

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