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Dick Thornburgh on: Metropolitan Edison's Version of the Accident
Dick Thornburgh Q: What is MedEd saying about the accident?

RT: Obviously, the first priority that I had with the ultimate power of decision over some very important questions in the wake of this accident -- the first priority of mine was to get all the facts. I had been trained as an engineer and as a prosecutor and, I had respect for the facts and knew that decision-makers, whether they're little league baseball coaches or governors of our fifth largest state, were gonna make decisions, the quality of which was ultimately dependent upon the quality of the facts that they had at hand. So our initial effort was to try to gather facts. The first source, obviously, was the utility, Metropolitan Edison, that ran the nuclear plant.

Q: So what did MedEd say at the press conference?

RT: Well, the thrust of their press conference characterization was really to kind of down play the accident. They said that everything was under control. It wasn't. They said that all of the response mechanisms at the plant had worked properly. They hadn't, but generally, the impression was left that there really wasn't much room for concern. MetEd and omitted some very vital information -- that there had been an uncontrolled release of radiation from the plant. And so, while we had no reason to suspect at the time that there was anything missing in their characterization of it, we still set about to go to look to other sources to try to verify and check out. We had some very skilled people, nuclear technicians, on our staff and I set them to kind of checking and double-checking precisely what was forthcoming.

Q: What did you learn than was different that what MedEd was saying?

RT: Well, the first thing that eroded our willingness to accept the utility's characterization of the event was learning that this uncontrolled release of radiation had taken place. That was a very substantial bit of information that they had neglected to share with the public at their press conference on the morning of the accident. They said they hadn't been asked about it, but it seemed to us that it was incumbent upon them to come forward with that. And so, the lieutenant governor, who was in charge of emergency management and who I had delegated initially the supervision of the fact-gathering process, had held a press conference early in the morning to try to allay any of the worst fears that might result from this accident. But, we then arrange for him to hold a second press conference to the effect that there's a lot more to this than meets the eye.

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