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William Scranton on: Dealing with Metropolitan Edison
William Scranton Q: What was your contact with Med-Ed management?

WS: Well, my contact with Med-Ed management was my other salient memory from the first day because they brought up their plant manager. Their plant manager came up after my initial press conference, when I found out that there has, indeed, been off-site radiation release. We needed to get more information and we were tired of working through intermediaries and he came up to my office. We had a sit-down with him and it, essentially, was quite an angry session because it was clear that this man apparently was technically quite capable from the standpoint of divulging information or letting people know what was going on. Truly, his interest was in protecting the company. And it was at that point that I realized, in fact, our whole administration realized, that we could not rely on Metropolitan Edison for the kind of information we needed to make decisions.

Q: By that time of the second press conference, what were your feelings toward Med-Ed?

WS: Anger, pure and simple. We couldn't afford to be understanding of their natural disposition of an engineer or technician to have great confidence in technology or the system when they weren't willing to be forthcoming about what they were doing, which was venting. Now venting was not illegal or even unprecedented under that situation, but they were just not admitting it. Where radiation is being vented, I don't care whether it's under the minimums or not, people have a right to know about it. And if the company's not going to be forthcoming, you have to find a way to get that information and get it quickly. Furthermore, if you can't trust them to be forthcoming about that, what else is going on that you don't know about? And that was the most difficult thing. And it was after that morning's incident that we said, "We need people on-site whom we can trust." This was an ongoing theme of this incident because within a couple of hours, we knew we couldn't trust the utility. We knew what the limits of state's independent information was, and there were good people working for the state and trying very, but we knew what the limits were. So we had to get somebody from the NRC, on-site and they came up from King of Prussia, outside of Philadelphia. They were regional NRC people and they came to Harrisburg and they went to the island and then we met with them that night and had a third press conference of the day, which was essentially an opportunity to have them discuss with the people of the area and the press using their expertise independently of what the company was seeing.

Q: Did you feel that there was some mindset operating with the pre-Denton representatives?

WS: No. Actually I thought they were a breath of fresh air compared to the company. They clearly had nuclear expertise, which, although we had people in the state who were familiar, these guys were technicians who understood how a plant ran. They were from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. They knew what they were talking about. They were more forthcoming. They were being paid by the government, not being paid by the shareholders of a corporation. I felt a lot better about them. I think we all felt a lot better about them. But that doesn't mean that we didn't spend an awful lot of time challenging them with a lot of what-if questions. And, frankly, they didn't know everything. They gave us confidence that things -- I'm not going to say things were under control, 'cause we wouldn't have believed them if they said it, but that they had a good handle on what was coming -- on what the situation was and what was coming off the site with regard to radiation. So we felt a lot better having that level of expertise.

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