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Roger Mattson on: Learning from the Experience
Roger Mattson Q: When you look back, how do you come to terms with it? Anybody to blame?

RM: I can't look at Three Mile Island other than as a learning experience. There were people to blame on all sides. The vendors, the supplier had made design decisions that contributed to the course and consequences of the accident. The operators had made mistakes that contributed. The company that prepared the operators by providing their training had made mistakes. The regulator, we had opportunities to have prevented the accident. We had opportunities to perform better during the accident, and we made our share of mistakes. It's a little bit like the Challenger accident. When something like this goes wrong, you look at all of the things that have to come together for such a low probability event to occur and different people contribute different pieces of it at different times. Viewed after the fact, Three Mile Island was a tremendous opportunity to learn to make these plants safer, to improve their designs, to improve the training of the people that operate them, to improve their regulation, a very expensive learning experience, but, fortunately, a learning experience that did not cost human life. It did cause some panic and some stress for the people living there, and that's very unfortunate. But, nonetheless, an experience that has probably prevented accidents of this type not only in our country, but in other countries around the world that use this technology.

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