Sunteți pe pagina 1din 31

Chronology of Key Milestones and NRC Actions Taken During the Three Mile Island Unit 2 Recovery and Decontamination

03/28/1979

Turbine Trip, Reactor Trip, H.P. Injection. At 4:00 a.m., the crew in the Three Mile Island Unit 2 (TMI-2) control room made the following entry in the control room log book:

0400 Turbine trip, Reactor trip, H.P. injection ES

(H.P. injection ESrefers to high-pressure injection engineered safeguards.)

03/28/1979

NRC Site Team Began Arriving. A team began to form with the arrival of NRC’s Office of Inspection and Enforcement (IE) and Region I inspectors shortly after the accident, and continued to expand with the arrival of the first contingent from the Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation (NRR) on March 29 and additional inspectors from all five regional offices. On March 30, the Director of NRR and additional NRR staff arrived at the site to assist in the recovery operation. A Public Affairs Office was also established in Middletown, PA, and staffed on a 24- hour basis to manage the flow of information to the public and the media.

Initially, the NRC site team supported emergency response functions for the NRC and the U.S. Government. Within days of the accident, the site team performed on-site recovery activities, which can be broken down into four major areas:

activities, which can be broken down into four major areas: NRC managers at Three Mile Island.

NRC managers at Three Mile Island. From left to right: Roger Mattson (back to camera), Harold Denton, Denwood Ross, Richard Vollmer, and Victor Stello (back to camera).

1

Review system modifications and system additions.Review all procedures, both emergency and normal operation and maintenance, which were necessary to post-accident

Review all procedures, both emergency and normal operation and maintenance, which were necessary to post-accident activities.Review system modifications and system additions. Provide close and continuous monitoring for the operations. Provide

Provide close and continuous monitoring for the operations.which were necessary to post-accident activities. Provide consultation, review, and analysis of the ongoing

Provide consultation, review, and analysis of the ongoing radwaste, cleanup, and health physics activities.Provide close and continuous monitoring for the operations. 04/01/1979 04/01/1979 04/11/1979 President Carter Toured

04/01/1979

04/01/1979

04/11/1979

President Carter Toured TMI. President and Mrs. Carter, accompanied by Pennsylvania Governor Richard Thornburgh and NRC Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation Director Harold Denton, toured Three Mile Island for thirty minutes on April 1, 1979 (photo at right).

Island for thirty minutes on April 1, 1979 (photo at right). NRC Bulletins Issued. On April

NRC Bulletins Issued. On April 1, 1979, the NRC’s Office of Inspection and Enforcement issued a series of bulletins instructing all holders of operating licenses to take a number of immediate actions to avoid repeating several events that contributed significantly to the accidents severity (BL 79-05, 05A, 05B, 05C, 06, 06A, 06B, 06C, and 08). The bulletins and other related evaluations also provided substantial input on other staff activities, such as those associated with the generic study efforts and the Lessons Learned Task Force.

Presidents Commission Created. On April 11, 1979, President Carter issued Executive Order #12130, creating the Presidents Commission on the Accident at Three Mile Island and charging its members to conduct a comprehensive study and investigation of the recent accident involving the nuclear power facility on Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania.A full-time staff was engaged, eventually numbering over 60 persons; more than 30 separate staff reports were prepared, and many of them were published alongside the report by the Commission, which was issued on October 30, 1979. In the course of its investigation, the Commission conducted 12 days of public hearings, and its staff compiled more than 150 separate depositions.

2

04/25/1979

B&W Plants Shut Down. After a series of discussions between NRC staff and licensees of operating Babcock & Wilcox (B&W) plants, the licensees agreed to shut down these plants until the actions identified to the NRC could be completed. This agreement was confirmed by a Commission Order to each licensee. Authorizations to resume operations were issued between late May and early July, as individual plants satisfactorily completed the short-term actions and NRC staff completed on-site verifications of the plantsreadiness to resume operations.

04/27/1979

Natural Circulation Cooling Achieved. The reactor coolant system was intentionally placed in natural circulation cooling mode, with decay heat to the condenser. On the afternoon of April 27, 1979, the reactor coolant pump that had been providing the flow through the core of the TMI-2 reactor and taking away the decay heat for removal through a steam generator was intentionally shut down, and natural circulation cooling was achieved. The reactor was thus brought to a stable condition, which could be sustained without dependence on electrically activated equipment.

On May 1, 1979, the NRC’s Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation (NRR) Technical Review Group issued a 55-page report, TMI-2 Plant Modifications for Cold Shutdown,that evaluated the licensee-proposed modifications to be carried out over the following few weeks. The modifications included those associated with transitioning to natural circulation, permitting solid plant operations, diverse reactor coolant system pressure control capability, correcting leaks in the decay heat removal (DHR) system, and installing a skid-mounted DHR system. To facilitate the early completion of the design and installation of these system modifications, system functional capability following a seismic event was not a design requirement. However, the Seismic Category I DHR and reactor coolant makeup system could be used to remove decay heat and control primary pressure.

The NRR Technical Review Group report, issued on May 1, 1979, included NUREG-0557, Evaluation of Long-Term Post-Accident Core Cooling of Three Mile Island Unit 2.Based on their understanding of the accident scenario and the available data, the staff evaluated the condition of the core and the core flow resistance according to its effect on the ability to cool the core by natural circulation. TMI-2s natural circulation cooling capability for the estimated core flow resistance and a variety of other conditions were evaluated, and a comparison of the base case and off-nominal plant configurations was presented. The potential for and effects of natural convection core cooling were addressed, and the staffs recommendations for reactor performance acceptance criteria upon initiation of natural convection were presented.

The inadvertent shutdown of the reactor coolant pump provided the proof of concept for natural circulation cooling mode, given the unknown integrity of the reactor core.

05/1979

Bulletins and Orders Task Force Formed. In May 1979, NRC’s Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation formed a task force responsible for reviewing and directing the TMI-2-related staff activities regarding loss-of-feedwater transients and small-break loss-of-coolant accidents for all operating reactors. Its findings

3

were documented in the report NUREG-0645, Final Report of Bulletins and Orders Task Force of the Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation,issued in January 1980.

05/1979

TMI-2 Lessons Learned Task Force Formed. In May 1979, an interdisciplinary team of engineers from the NRCs Offices of Nuclear Reactor Regulation, Nuclear Regulatory Research, Inspection and Enforcement, and Standards Development began to identify and evaluate those safety concerns originating from the TMI-2 accident that required licensing actions.

The scope of the task force assignment covered the following general technical areas:

Reactor operations, including operator training and licensing. Licensee technical qualifications. Reactor transient and accident analysis. Licensing requirements for safety and process equipment, instrumentation, and controls. On-site emergency preparations and procedures. NRR accident response role, capability, and management. Feedback, evaluation, and utilization of reactor operating experience.

The task force proceeded in two phases:

Short-Term Recommendations. The first phase culminated in the issuance of NUREG-0578, TMI-2 Lessons Learned Task Force: Status Report and Short- Term Recommendations(July 1979). The Director of NRR ordered the implementation of 23 short-term licensing requirements in September 1979, based on a favorable review by NRC’s independent Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards (ACRS) received in August.

Final Recommendations. In the second phase of its work, the task force considered more fundamental questions in the design and operation of nuclear power plants, and in the licensing process. The issues were grouped into four general categories: (1) general safety criteria, (2) system design requirements, (3) nuclear power plant operations, and (4) nuclear power plant licensing. NUREG-0585, TMI-2 Lessons Learned Task Force: Final Recommendations,was issued in October 1979 to complete this phase.

05/10/1979

Ad Hoc Dose Assessment Group Report Issued. On May 10, 1979, NUREG- 0558, Population Dose and Health Impact of the Accident at the Three Mile Island Nuclear Station: Preliminary Estimates for the Period March 28, 1979 through April 7, 1979,was issued by the Ad Hoc Dose Assessment Group, which comprised various federal agencies. The report contained a preliminary assessment of the radiation dose and potential health impact of the accident. This assessment was prepared by a task group composed of technical staff from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The report concluded that the estimated dose that might have been received by an individual was less than 100 mrem. The collective dose received by the 2,164,000 people estimated to live

4

within a 50-mile radius of the reactor site was calculated to be 3,300 person-rem (with a range of 1600 - 5300 person-rem). This corresponds to an average dose of approximately 1.5 mrem.

05/30/1979

Feedwater Transients Studied and Report Issued. The NRC issued NUREG- 0560, Staff Report on the Generic Assessment of Feedwater Transients in Pressurized Water Reactors Designed by the Babcock & Wilcox Company,which considers the particular design features and operational history of Babcock & Wilcox operating plants in light of the TMI-2 accident and related current licensing requirements. As a result of this study, a number of findings and recommendations were pursued. Similar studies were published for the operating reactors designed by Westinghouse and Combustion Engineering.

07/12/1979

IE Special Review Group Formed. A Special Review Group from the NRCs Office of Inspection and Enforcement (IE) was commissioned on July 12, 1979 to develop and recommend changes in IE programs based on TMI experience. Both preventive and responsive aspects of IE programs and operations were studied. A total of 219 separate recommendations for change were generated in this review. Preventive changes pervade all parts of the routine IE Inspection Program, ranging from plant design to operation. Responsive changes focus on the emergency preparedness of licensees and the NRC. When combined, these changes enhance the program and organizational effectiveness of the office. The relative priority of the recommended changes and the estimation of the resources needed to implement them were left to IE line management.

The findings were later documented in NUREG-0616, Report of Special Review Group, Office of Inspection and Enforcement on Lessons Learned from Three Mile Island,in December 1979.

08/03/1979

IE Task Force on Lessons Learned Issued Report. On August 3, 1979, the NRCs Office of Inspection and Enforcement (IE) task force on lessons learned issued a report of the investigation of the TMI accident, NUREG-0600, Investigation into the March 28, 1979 Three Mile Island Accident by Office of Inspection and Enforcement.The scope of the investigation was limited to (1) the licensees operational activities before the initiating event, from about 4:00 a.m. on March 28 up to about 8:00 p.m. that evening, when primary coolant flow was reestablished by the starting of the reactor coolant pump; and (2) steps taken by the licensee to control the release of radioactive material to off-site environs and to implement its emergency plan, from the initiating event until midnight on March 30.

Violations Identified. As a result of the findings in NUREG-0600, the IE Director notified the licensee later in 1979 that their investigation had revealed numerous items of noncompliancewith NRC regulations on the part of the licensee. Six violations,were alleged by IE, including serious weaknesses in the licensees health physics program, control of maintenance activities, development and review of procedures, adherence to prescribed procedures, and audit activities. The licensee was cited for failure to operate the facility in accordance with the Technical Specifications approved and adopted for that particular plant, and for authorizing a surveillance procedure that placed certain valves in a status that rendered emergency feedwater unavailable on three

5

separate occasions, including on March 28, when it was needed. Personnel training were also found to be insufficient, as well as record maintenance and in- house inspections.

ACRS Review. In a letter to Chairman Hendrie, the NRC’s independent Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards (ACRS) registered its view of the IE investigation later in 1979, and its conclusions based on that investigation. Taking note of the studys limited scope, the ACRS felt that the emphasis put by IE on the licensees departure from technical specifications prior to the accident and from approved procedures during it resulted in too little consideration of other relevant factors. The ACRS concluded that the limited scope of the IE report tended to lead to a catalogue of violations, and expressed its concern that the IE report might give the impression that failure to follow accident procedures automatically counts as a violation. The ACRS noted that the procedures were prepared by the licensee and were not approved by the NRC (although the licensee was required by the NRC to follow them), and affirmed that such procedures cannot be so detailed as to allow for every accident scenario. On the contrary, the ACRS declared, a deviation from the conditions assumed in the writing of the procedures may make it necessary to depart from those procedures. There was a question as to whether an operator who, using his best judgment, consciously takes an action that deviates from the procedures (which in themselves may contain confusing or incorrect guidance), is guilty of a violation. The ACRS stated that this was the wrong approach to protecting the public health and safetyin an emergency, and that an operator, guided by written procedures, should be allowed to use his best judgment to deal with a problem. That judgment would be subject to post-factum appraisal by responsible parties, but it should not necessarily be deemed an error or a violation of regulations. The ACRS found the IE report less than satisfactoryfor these reasons and recommended issuance of a consolidated report on the findings of the NRC task forces investigating the TMI accident.

08/29/1979

Personnel Overexposure Event. On August 29, 1979, six workers incurred radiation overexposure in the TMI-2 fuel-handling building while inspecting and tightening leaking valves in preparation for the decontamination of the area. Reactor coolant water, highly contaminated by the March 28 accident, was leaking from the valves. The radiation survey instrument used by the workers showed a gamma dose rate in the room of 10 15 rems per hour in general, and, in one small zone, of 25 rems per hour. It was decided that the time limit for each worker to stay in the radiation area was four minutes. What the survey instrument failed to disclose, however, was the beta radiation rates in the room, which were running as high as 2500 rems per hour. It was later ascertained that the workers had received doses in excess of regulatory limits from the beta radiation. The doses were as high as 166 rems to the whole body in one instance, and 161 rems in another. No medically significant effects were identified by medical examination.

09/13/1979

Recommendations from the Lessons Learned Task Force Sent to Licensees. Letters (e.g., Generic Letter 79-43, Follow-up Actions Resulting from the NRC Staff Reviews Regarding the TMI-2 Accident) were sent to all operating nuclear power plants, advising them that they should implement the recommendations of the Lessons Learned Task Force and the additional items

6

resulting from comments by NRC’s independent Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards and review by the Director of NRC’s Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation. A series of briefings was held to apprise reactor owners of these requirements. Letters were also sent to applicants for construction permits and operating licenses, instructing them to implement the short-term lessons learned. The approach adopted by NRC staff in seeking swift implementation of the short- term requirements allowed licensees to fulfill those requirements prior to NRC staff review.

10/1979

Socioeconomic Impact Study Report Issued. The NRC implemented a research program on the socioeconomic impact of the accident on the area. The first element of this program was done as a telephone survey covering 1,500 households within 55 miles of TMI, seeking information on the activities of household members during and after the accident, their attitudes toward TMI and nuclear power in general, their demographic characteristics, and both the short- term and continuing socioeconomic effects of the accident. This survey was the broadest and most detailed of the studies undertaken in the wake of the TMI accident, as of the end of fiscal year 1980. The survey results were published in October 1979 in the preliminary report NUREG/CR-1093, Three Mile Island Telephone Survey.

A second report, NUREG/CR-1215, The Social and Economic Effects of the Accident at Three Mile Island: Findings to Date,expands upon the telephone survey, and was prepared with the cooperation of the Governor of Pennsylvanias Office of Policy and Planning and published in January 1980. The report deals with the impact of the accident on the regional economy, the business community, local government agencies, churches, schools, hospitals, prisons, and homes for the elderly. It also appraises the accidents effect on agriculture and tourism, both of which were adversely affected in the short run. Finally, the report estimates the long-term effects of the accident on persons, business firms, the value of real estate, and political institutions.

10/16/1979

Epicor-II System Approved. On August 14, 1979, the NRC issued for public comment an environmental assessment for the use of Epicor-II in the decontamination of the intermediate level of contaminated water (less than 100 microcuries per milliliter) in the auxiliary building. On October 3, 1979, the NRC issued NUREG-0951, Environmental Assessment Use of Epicor-II at Three Mile Island Unit 2.On October 16, 1979, the Commission issued a Memorandum and Order directing the use of Epicor-II.

7

The "Epicor-II" system that was used to decontaminate some 380,000 gallons of intermediate-level radioactive water

The "Epicor-II" system that was used to decontaminate some 380,000 gallons of intermediate-level radioactive water held in the auxiliary building tank at the TMI-2 site is shown above. It consists of three process vessels (steel liners) shielded by four-inch lead enclosures located in the chemical cleaning building. Each vessel contains ion-exchange resin. The vessel at the top of the photo at the left is the system prefilter/demineralizer, the center vessel is a cation ion-exchanger, and the third vessel is a mixed-bed polishing ion-exchanger. Each is fitted with three quick-disconnect hoses: a liquid waste influent line, a processed waste effluent line, and a vent line with attached overflow hose. Vented air from each vessel passes through a special filter and charcoal absorber. "Spent" ion-exchange resin liners containing radioactive material removed from the water are transferred by crane to cells (shown at top right) which are housed in modular concrete storage structures (shown at bottom right). The cells are concrete-shielded, galvanized corrugated steel cylinders seven feet in diameter and 13 feet high. The storage module shown under construction has 4-foot thick walls and is 57 feet wide and 91 feet long. Each module holds about 60 storage cells. The modular design allowed additional storage modules that could be built on an as-needed basis. (Source: NRC Annual Report, 1979)

10/30/1979

President’s Commission on the Accident at Three Mile Island Submits its Final Report (also known as the Kemeny Report). The President’s Commission on the Accident at Three Mile Island presented its final report to the President on October 30, 1979. President Carter assigned a nine-person interagency panel to review the report by the Kemeny Commission. Dr. Frank Press, Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, Executive Office of the President was the Chairman. Also on the interagency panel were: Energy Undersecretary John Deutch; Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality, Gus Speth; Director of the Office of Management and Budget, James McIntyre; White House Counsel, Lloyd Cutler; White House Energy Policy Coordinator, Elliot Cutler; Domestic Policy Advisor, Stuart Eizenstat; National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski and Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, John Macy.

8

11/20/1979

NRC Responded to the Recommendations from the President’s Commission. On November 20, 1979, the NRC issued NUREG-0632, ―NRC Views and Analysis of the Recommendations of the President’s Commission on the Accident at Three Mile Island.‖ The NRC was requested to provide this response by Dr. Frank Press, Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, Executive Office of the President.

The preliminary views of the NRC in each of the major topical areas of the President’s Commission recommendations were summarized. These views were subject to refinement based on further consideration of the Report of the President's Commission and any new insights provided by ongoing congressional investigations, and by NRC’s Special Inquiry Group. Supplemental views from individual NRC Commissioners were included in the NUREG report.

12/07/1979

President Carter Responded to the Recommendations from the Kemeny Commission. Following a period of study by the interagency panel, the President issued his response to the recommendations on December 7, 1979. A copy of the President’s letter is provided on page 62 of NUREG-0690, ―1979 NRC Annual Report.

1980

01/1980

Special Inquiry Group Issued its Report (also known as the Rogovin Report). Within weeks of the accident at Three Mile Island, the NRC decided to establish a Special Inquiry Group to carry out, under independent directorship, a thorough analysis of the causes of the accident, and an assessment of its implications. The Commission contracted with the law firm of Rogovin, Stern, and Huge to have the firm assume directorship of the group and responsibility for its work. Most of the people eventually assembled to assist in the inquiry were drawn from the NRCs professional staff, carefully screened to avoid any conflicts of interest. A number of technical consultants in the areas of accident investigation and safety management were also engaged to assist with the inquiry, as were some lawyers with investigative experience. Also contributing to the studymainly by providing specialized technical expertisewere some of the national laboratories within the Department of Energy, the National Academy of Public Administration (in the area of emergency response), and a private firm experienced in human factors engineering.

The results of the special inquiry were published in January 1980 as NUREG/CR-1250 Vols. I and II, Three Mile Island A Report to the Commissioners and to the Public.Volume II has three parts.

01/1980

Determination of an Extraordinary Nuclear Occurrence Issued. Back in July 1979, the NRC formally initiated the determination as to whether or not the accident at the TMI-2 reactor on March 28, 1979 constituted an extraordinary nuclear occurrence.On August 17, 1979, the Commission directed that a panel composed of members of the principal staff should be formed to assemble information relevant to a determination of an extraordinary nuclear occurrence (ENO), evaluate public comments, and report its findings and recommendation to

9

the Commission. The Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended, defines the term extraordinary nuclear occurrenceas:

any

or byproduct material from its intended place of confinement in amounts off-site, or causing radiation levels off-site, which the Commission determines to be substantial, and which the Commission determines has resulted or will probably result in substantial damages to persons off-site or property off-site. The Act further states that the Commission shall establish criteria in writing setting forth the basis upon which the determination shall be made.

event causing a discharge or dispersal of source, special nuclear,

The Commission concluded that proceeding with the determination was in the public interest for two reasons. First, the Commission noted that the events at Three Mile Island constituted the most serious nuclear accident to date at a licensed U.S. facility, and thus should be rigorously scrutinized from the standpoint of its effect on the public. Second, the Commission noted the pendency of various lawsuits concerning the accident, in which the determination of whether or not an ENO had taken place was pertinent, and acknowledged the informal request of the federal district court in Harrisburg to make this determination as expeditiously as possible.

The findings were documented in NUREG-0637, Report to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission from the Staff Panel on the Commissions Determination of an Extraordinary Nuclear Occurrence (ENO),in January 1980. This staff report finds and recommends that the TMI-2 accident did not constitute an ENO.

02/11/1980

Recovery Technical Specifications Implemented. Back on June 25, 1979, the NRC provided draft Recovery Technical Specifications to the licensee for review. On February 11, 1980, the NRC issued NUREG-0647, Safety Evaluation and Environmental Assessment, Metropolitan Edison Company, Jersey Central Power and Light Company, Pennsylvania Electric Company, Docket No. 50-320, Three Mile Island Nuclear Station, Unit No. 2.This report contained an NRC Order for the Three Mile Island Nuclear Station, Unit 2, that (1) required that, effective immediately, the facility be maintained in accordance with the requirements of the attached proposed Technical Specifications; and (2) proposed to formally amend the Facility Operating License to include the proposed Technical Specifications, taking into account the present condition of plant systems, so as to ensure that the unit would remain in a safe posture during the Recovery Mode.

Early 1980

Underground Monitoring Wells Installed. In early 1980, NRC staff requested that the TMI licensee install a series of monitoring wells around the auxiliary and reactor buildings to monitor for leakage of radioactive water into the ground.

05/1980

NRC Action Plan (NUREG-0660) Issued. In May 1980, the NRC issued NUREG-0660, NRC Action Plan Developed as a Result of the TMI-2 Accident,which provided a comprehensive and integrated plan for the actions now judged necessary by the NRC to correct or improve the regulation and operation of nuclear facilities, based on the experience from the accident at TMI-2 and the

10

official studies and investigations of the accident. NRC activities and programs not related to the accident at TMI-2 were not described in this Action Plan.

06/28/1980

Purging of the Reactor Building Atmosphere Began.

Environmental Assessment prior to purging. Back in March 1980, NRC staff issued for public comment a draft environmental assessment of a number of alternative options for the decontamination of the reactor building atmosphere. Approximately 800 responses were received from various federal, state, and local agencies and officials, as well as from non-governmental organizations and private individuals. Following appropriate revisions responding to the comments received, and additional reviews and analyses by NRC staff, NUREG-0662, ―Final Environmental Assessment for Decontamination of the Three Mile Island Unit 2 Reactor Building Atmosphere,‖ was issued in May 1980. The statement discussed several alternative options and the potential environmental impacts associated with each.

NRC Issued Order to Purge. Having reviewed the staff assessment and recommendations, together with the comments from the public, the Governor of Pennsylvania, and many others, the NRC’s Commission issued a Memorandum and Order authorizing the licensee to clean the reactor building atmosphere by means of a controlled purge, or release of contaminated air through filter systems. On the same day, the Commission issued a modification of the TMI operating license setting off-site dose limits for the purge.

Purging Operations Began. The purging operation, which began on June 28, 1980, was carried out under detailed procedures approved by NRC staff. The operation was completed 14 days later (see below).

07/1980

NRC Action Plan for Cleanup Operations Issued. The NRC’s TMI Program Office issued NUREG-0689, NRC Plan for Cleanup Operations at Three Mile Island Unit 2,which defined the functional role of the NRC in cleanup operations at TMI-2 to ensure that agency regulatory responsibilities and objectives would be fulfilled. The plan outlined NRC functions in TMI-2 cleanup operations in the following areas: (1) the functional relationship between the NRC and other government agencies, the public, and the licensee in coordinating activities; (2) the functional roles of these organizations in cleanup operations; (3) the NRCs review and decision making procedure for the licensees proposed cleanup operation; (4) the NRCs/licensees estimated schedule for major actions; and (5) the NRCs functional role in overseeing the implementation of approved licensee activities.

Two revisions were later issued in February, 1982, and March, 1984.

07/1980

Special Senate Investigation of the TMI Accident Issued its Report. The report by the Special Senate Investigation of the TMI accidentundertaken at the behest of the Subcommittee on Nuclear Regulation of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Workswas published in July 1980. The investigation focused on three discrete aspects of the TMI accident: events of the first day, cleanup activities at the TMI site, and events prior to the initiation of the TMI accident.

11

07/11/1980

Purging of the Reactor Building Atmosphere Completed. The purging operation, which began on June 28, 1980, was completed on July 11, 1980. Measurements showed that about 43,000 curies of krypton-85 was released during this period. Samples from the release flow were analyzed to ascertain the presence of radionuclides other than krypton, and the amounts were determined to be insignificant.

During the entire operation, members of the NRC staff were on-site to monitor the licensee’s activities. In addition, off-site radiation monitoring programs were conducted by the licensee, the NRC, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Environmental Resources of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and also by private individuals through the Community Radiation Monitoring Program set up by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The maximum cumulative radiation dose and the maximum dose rate measured at off-site locations were a fraction of the limits allowed under NRC regulations.

07/23/1980

08/14/1980

First Reactor Building Entry. The first entry into the reactor building containment was conducted by two utility staff on July 23, 1980 (photo at left). During the entry into containment, 29 pictures and six 100-cm swipes were taken, and a general area beta and gamma survey was conducted to acquire data at the entry level. The first entry team spent approximately 20 minutes inside the reactor building.

spent approximately 20 minutes inside the reactor building. Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement Issued for

Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement Issued for Public Comment. Responding to a directive issued by the Commission on November 21, 1979, NRC staff prepared the draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement dealing with the decontamination and disposal of radioactive waste resulting from the TMI accident. The statement (NUREG-0683, Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement Related to Decontamination and Disposal of Radioactive Wastes Resulting from March 28, 1979 Accident, Three Mile Island Nuclear Station, Unit 2, Docket No. 50-320) was released for public comment on August 14, 1980. It discussed four fundamental activities necessary to the cleanup: (1) treatment of radioactive liquids, (2) decontamination of the building and equipment, (3) removal of fuel and decontamination of the coolant system, and (4) packaging, handling, storing, and transporting nuclear waste. The statement addressed the principal environmental impacts that can be expected to occur as a consequence of cleanup activities, including occupational and off-site

12

radiation doses and resultant health effects, socioeconomic effects, and the effects of psychological stress.

09/1980

NRC Issued Report on the Consequences of Bankruptcy. In a report to the Commission by the Director of NRC’s Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation in September 1980, the possibility and potential consequences of bankruptcy on the part of the TMI licensee were explored at length. Findings were documented in NUREG-0689, Potential Impact of Licensee Default on Cleanup of TMI-2.

09/09/1980

First GAO Report Issued. The General Accounting Office (GAO) issued its report on the TMI-2 accident to Congress on September 9, 1980, in a document entitled Three Mile Island: The Most Studied Nuclear Accident in History.The GAO endorsed the directive of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (in the draft authorizing legislation for the NRC for fiscal year 1981), which called for the development of a safety goal for nuclear reactor regulation.

11/1980

Clarification of the TMI Action Plan Issued. In November 1980, the NRC issued NUREG-0737, ―Clarification of TMI Action Plan Requirements,‖ which was a letter from the NRC to licensees of operating power reactors and applicants for operating licenses forwarding post-TMI requirements that had been approved for implementation. Following the accident at TMI-2, NRC staff developed the Action Plan, NUREG-0660, to provide a comprehensive and integrated plan to improve safety at power reactors. Specific items from NUREG-0660 have been approved by the Commission for implementation at reactors. In this report, these specific items comprise a single document, which includes additional information on schedules, applicability, methods of implementation review, submittal dates, and clarification of technical positions. It should be noted that the total set of TMI-related actions have been collected in NUREG-0660, but only those items that the Commission had approved for implementation prior to publication were included in NUREG-0737.

11/12/1980

Public Advisory Panel Formed by NRC. The Advisory Panel for the Decontamination of TMI-2 met for the first time on November 12, 1980 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The 12-member Panel included local citizens, local and state governmental officials, and scientists, and held 78 meetings over 13 years, meeting regularly with both the public and NRC Commissioners. In addition to soliciting views from members of the public, the Panel interacted with Congress and other federal agencies to ensure the safe and expeditious cleanup of TMI-2.

NUREG/CR-6252, Lessons Learned from the Three Mile Island-Unit 2 Advisory Panel,was issued in August 1994, and documented the analysis of the lessons learned and preliminary conclusions on the effectiveness of the Panel.

12/1980

Public Whole Body Counting Program Report Issued. Back in April 1979, the NRC instituted a program to determine whether any radioactivity released as a result of the TMI-2 accident was accumulating in members of the general public living near Unit 2. In December 1980, NUREG-0636, The Public Whole Body Counting Program Following the Three Mile Island Accident: Technical Report, April-September 1979,was issued. The program used a device called a whole body counter, which measures very small quantities of radioactivity in people. A

13

total of 753 men, women, and children were successfully counted; nine of these were counted a second time, leading to a total of 762 whole body counts. There was no radioactivity identified in any member of the public that could have originated from the radioactive materials released following the accident. Several people with higher-than-average levels of naturally occurring radioactivity were identified. The counting systems used were briefly described. Technical problems, results, and conclusions were discussed.

1981

01/05/1981

Plant Entered Loss-to-Ambient Cooling Mode. Following tests starting in November 1980, the reactor coolant system was placed in the loss-to-ambient cooling mode on January 5, 1981 by heat losses to the reactor building ambient (maintained by the reactor building fan coolers). This permitted several previously required cooling systems to be de-energized and decommissioned.

01/1981

Investigation into Information Flow During the Accident Report Issued. In January 1981, NUREG-0760, Investigation into Information Flow During the Accident at Three Mile Island,was issued in response to a request from NRC Chairman Ahearne, which directed the Office of Inspection and Enforcement to resume its investigation of information flow during the accident at TMI-2. The transfer of information between individuals, agencies, and personnel from Metropolitan Edison was analyzed to ascertain what knowledge was held by various individuals regarding the specific events, parameters, and systems during the accident at TMI. Maximum use was made of existing records, and additional interviews were conducted to clarify areas that had not been pursued during earlier investigations. Although the passage of time between the accident and post-accident interviews hampered precise recollections of events and circumstances, the investigation revealed that information was not intentionally withheld during the accident, and that the system for the effective transfer of information was inadequate during the accident.

02/27/1981

Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement Issued. On February 27, 1981, the NRC issued NUREG-0683, Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement Related to Decontamination and Disposal of Radioactive Wastes Resulting from March 28, 1979 Accident, Three Mile Island Nuclear Station, Unit 2, Docket No. 50-320.NRC staff held 31 meetings with the public, media, and local officials. The final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) included the staffs responses to nearly 1,000 comments received on the draft statement (following a 90-day comment period). The final PEIS reaffirmed the draft statements conclusion that the decontamination of the TMI-2 facility, including the removal of the nuclear fuel and radioactive waste from the TMI site, was necessary for the long-term protection of public health and safety, and that methods exist or can be suitably adapted to perform the cleanup operations with minimal release of radioactivity to the environment. The final PEIS also concluded that the only environmental impact that might be of significance would be the cumulative radiation doses to the cleanup workers.

03/25/1981

NRC Approved Disposal of Epicor-II Resin Liners; Some Accepted by DOE. The licensee requested that the requirement for the solidification of spent Epicor- II resins be waived, and that those spent resin liners that were similar to normal

14

reactor resin wastes be disposed of by shallow land burial at a commercial disposal site. NRC approval to dispose of these 22 liners in this manner was issued on March 25, 1981. The last of these liners was shipped on June 27, 1981 from the TMI site to the U.S. Ecology burial site at Richland, Washington, in which all 22 liners were successfully disposed.

The requirement to solidify the remaining 50 Epicor-II pre-filter spent resin liners was also waived, and a Department of Energy (DOE) program of research and development on waste characterization examined and characterized the condition of one of these liners and its contents at a DOE contractor facility. Research in resin radiation degradation was reported in several NRC and DOE reports.

04/27/1981

NRC Policy Statement that Endorsed the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement Issued. The Commission issued a policy statement endorsing the final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS), and concluded that the PEIS (NUREG-0683) satisfied the Commissions obligations under the National Environmental Policy Act, with the exception of the disposal of processed accident-generated water. The Commission later issued a supplement stating that the PEIS allows staff to act on each major cleanup activity if the activity and associated impacts fall within the scope of those assessed in the PEIS. On June 26, 1981, NRC staff amended the Environmental Technical Specifications of the TMI-2 license to define the criteria in Appendix R of the final PEIS as limiting conditions of the cleanup operations.

The Commissions policy statement declared that the cleanup should be expedited and activities carried out in accordance with the criteria in Appendix R of the PEIS, which limited the doses to off-site individuals from radioactive effluents resulting from cleanup activities. These effluent limits were numerically identical to the design objectives of radioactive effluents for operating power reactors contained in Appendix I of 10 CFR Part 50. The criteria in Appendix R of the PEIS for TMI-2 cleanup activities were more restrictive than those for the operating power reactors, since the Appendix R values were limits that could not be exceeded, whereas, for operating power reactors, they were design objectives to be met on the as low as reasonably achievableprinciple.

on the ― as low as reasonably achievable ‖ principle. 15 Epicor-II liners at TMI-2 are

15

Epicor-II liners at TMI-2 are transferred from site storage areas in the cask shown at top, and lowered into shipping casks beneath to maintain shielding of radioactive material. During 1982, several shipments of the casks were made to various laboratories for study and tests. (Source:

NRC Annual Report, 1981)

06/18/1981

NRC Approved the Use of the Submerged Demineralizer System. The NRCs review of the submerged demineralizer system (SDS) formally started when the licensee submitted the report Technical Evaluation Report, Submerged Demineralizer Systemin April 1980. However, due to a number of design changes and technical questions from the staff, formal NRC approval was not given until June 1981.

On April 10, 1980, the licensee formally submitted its Technical Evaluation Report (TER) and requested permission to operate an underwater demineralization system. The SDS described in the licensees TER was designed to provide controlled handling and treatment of the highly contaminated wastewater generated during the accident. The SDS operated underwater, in one of the spent fuel pools of TMI Unit 2. It consisted of a liquid waste treatment subsystem, a gaseous waste treatment subsystem, and a solid waste handling subsystem. The liquid waste treatment subsystem was designed to decontaminate the high-activity wastewater by filtration and ion exchange. The primary components of the liquid waste treatment subsystem included two filters, and two parallel trains of four identical inorganic zeolite-filled ion exchanger vessels. In the event that additional cleanup of the effluent from SDS was required, it could be recycled through SDS or polished‖ (refined) with the Epicor- II system.

On June 18, 1981, the licensee was directed to promptly commence and complete processing of the remaining intermediate-level contaminated water (less than 100 microcuries per milliliter) in the auxiliary building tanks and the highly contaminated water in the reactor building sump and the reactor coolant system.

On August 9, 1981, the remaining 100,000 gallons of intermediate-level water were completely processed. The licensee started processing the high-activity water in September 1981. The approval to operate SDS did not include water disposal. All processed water was stored in existing on-site tanks. Decisions related to the disposal of processed water were made by the Commission at a later date (see NUREG-0683, Supplement 2, issued in June 1987).

07/15/1981

NRC and DOE Signed Memorandum of Understanding. On July 15, 1981, the NRC and Department of Energy (DOE) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which formalized the working relationship between the two agencies with respect to the removal and disposal of solid nuclear waste generated during the cleanup of TMI-2. This was a significant step toward ensuring that the TMI site would not become a long-term waste disposal facility. The MOU covered only solid nuclear waste, and did not cover liquid waste resulting from the cleanup activities. The MOU addressed three basic categories of TMI-2 waste: (1) waste determined by DOE to be of generic value in terms of beneficial information to be obtained from further research and development activities (the MOU calls for DOE to perform such activities at appropriate DOE facilities); (2) waste determined to be unsuitable for commercial land disposal because of high levels of contamination, but which DOE may also undertake to remove, store, and dispose of on a reimbursable basis from the licensee; and (3) waste considered suitable for shallow land burial, to be disposed of by the licensee in licensed, commercial low-level waste burial facilities.

16

The MOU is provided in Appendix A to NUREG-0698, Revision 1, NRC Plan for Cleanup Operations at Three Mile Island Unit 2.

08/1981

GAO Issued Report. The General Accounting Office (GAO) issued a report entitled Greater Commitment Needed to Solve Continuing Problems at Three Mile Island.GAO made two recommendations to the NRC:

GAO recommended that the NRC closely follow the current efforts of the insurance and utility industries to increase insurance coverage to what it determines to be an acceptable level.Mile Island. ‖ GAO made two recommendations to the NRC: To mitigate future regulatory constraints on

To mitigate future regulatory constraints on nuclear accident cleanup activities, GAO recommended that the NRC establish a set of guidelines that would facilitate the development of recovery procedures by utility companies in the event of other nuclear reactor accidents.coverage to what it determines to be an acceptable level. 1982 03/15/1982 NRC and DOE Revised

1982

03/15/1982

NRC and DOE Revised Memorandum of Understanding to Accept Fuel and Resins. The NRC and Department of Energy (DOE) agreed to a revision of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). Instead of taking only samples of the damaged fuel from TMI-2, DOE agreed to accept the entire core for research and development, and for storage at a DOE facility. The terms of ultimate disposal of the core will be negotiated between DOE and the utility operating the TMI facility. DOE also agreed to take possession of highly radioactive resins from the purification system, again on the basis of future reimbursement by the utility, and planned to take possession of zeolite waste from the submerged demineralizer system and retain it for research and testing with regard to waste immobilization.

The revised MOU is provided in Appendix A to NUREG-0698, Revision 2, NRC Plan for Cleanup Operations at Three Mile Island Unit 2.

05/21/1982

First SDS Liner Shipped to DOE . On May 21, 1982, the first waste vessel from the submerged demineralizer system (SDS) was shipped from TMI to DOE facilities in Hanford, Washington for disposal. This vessel was used to process wastewater from the reactor-coolant bleed tanks, and contained approximately 12,000 curies of radioactive material on zeolite ion-exchange media. Subsequent shipments included liners containing more than 50,000 curies of radioactive material removed from reactor building sump water. DOE conducted research on glass vitrification (solidification) of this type of solid waste at Hanford.

On July 27, 1982, one of the 49 high specific activity Epicor-II liners stored on- site was sampled for gas composition at TMI, and was shipped on August 17 to the Battelle Columbus Laboratories in West Jefferson, Ohio for radiation and chemical characterization tests. The liner contained approximately 1,800 curies of radioactive material, and was shipped in a special cask designed to withstand severe transportation accidents. On August 25, a second liner was shipped from TMI to the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory for characterization tests.

17

07/21/1982 “Quick Look” Fuel Inspection. The first closed-circuit television inspections of the reactor core were
07/21/1982
“Quick Look” Fuel Inspection. The first closed-circuit television inspections of
the reactor core were performed on July 21, 1982. During this ―Quick Look‖
inspection, a camera lowered into the core region revealed a rubble bed
approximately five feet below the normal location of the top of the fuel
assemblies. Results are reported in GEND-030-VOL-1, ―Quick Look Inspection
Report on the Insertion of a Camera into the TMI-2 Reactor Vessel.‖
First closed-circuit television inspections of the reactor core were performed on July 21, 1982.
1983
08/30/1983
Last SDS Liners Shipped to DOE. The last two of the 50 Epicor-II prefilters of
high specific activity were shipped from TMI-2 on July 12, 1983, and the last of
the 13 highly contaminated submerged demineralizer system (SDS) liners left the
TMI site on August 30, 1983.
11/18/1983
NRC Approved Use of Reactor Building Crane. The TMI-2 polar crane
suffered severe damage as a result of the accident. Besides being highly
contaminated, the crane’s electrical components were damaged by hydrogen
burns and exposure to the excessive moisture in the containment building
atmosphere. Restoration of the crane was required to accomplish defueling
(removal of the reactor vessel head and internal structure, and other cleanup
activities). The staff approved the licensee’s safety evaluation for the
refurbishment and use of the Reactor Building Polar Crane. The initial climb to
the polar crane was made on May 14, 1981. Mechanical and electrical
inspections were made in August 1982. The crane was successfully load-tested

18

on February 29, 1984, when a test assembly weighing 214 tons was lifted and moved along predetermined test paths. Details are documented in NUREG/CR- 3884, Evaluation of Nuclear Facility Decommissioning Projects: Summary Report - Three Mile Island Unit 2 Polar Crane Recovery.

Report - Three Mile Island Unit 2 Polar Crane Recovery. ‖ Survey in progress of the

Survey in progress of the polar crane inside the reactor building. (Source: NRC Annual Report,

1981)

1984

07/1984

Reactor Pressure Vessel Head Removed. In July 1984, the reactor pressure vessel head was removed using the reactor building polar crane and placed in shielded storage inside the reactor building. Details of the planning, training, and operations are documented in GEND-044, ―TMI-2 Reactor Vessel Head Removal.‖

10/1984

NRC Issued Supplement 1 to the Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement Dealing with Occupational Radiation Dose. In October 1984, the NRC’s TMI Program Office issued NUREG-0683, Supplement 1, Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement Related to Decontamination and Disposal of Radioactive Wastes Resulting from March 28, 1979 Accident, Three Mile Island Nuclear Station, Unit 2, Docket No. 50-320 - Supplement Dealing with Occupational Radiation Dose.In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act, the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) was supplemented to revise the staff’s earlier estimates of occupational radiation exposure resulting from the cleanup. The supplement was required because information indicated that the cleanup may entail substantially more occupational radiation dose to the cleanup work force than originally

19

anticipated. Cleanup was originally estimated to result in from 2000 to 8000 person-rem of occupational radiation dose. New estimates indicated that between 13,000 and 46,000 person-rem were expected to be required. Alternative cleanup methods considered in the supplement either did not result in appreciable dose savings or were not known to be technically feasible. The draft supplement to the PEIS was issued back in March 1984 for public comment.

1985

01/1985

Cleanup Funding from Industry Pledged. The Edison Electric Institute, representing the utility industry, voluntarily pledged funds totaling $25 million per year for six years, beginning in January 1985. A group of Japanese utility companies pledged $18 million ($3 million for six years) to the cleanup, making the total level of funding for cleanup activities in 1984 approximately $95 million.

02/1985

First Video Inspection of Lower Head Region. In February 1985, the first video inspection of the reactor vessel lower head region revealed the accumulation of a substantial quantityan estimated 10 to 20 tonsof accident- generated debris. The debris bed had the appearance of a gravel pile, composed of pieces normally three to four inches long and half as wide. Similar material was observed by sighting up through the lower diffuser plate of the core support assembly.

Although the composition of the debris could not be determined from the video inspections, it was evident that some molten material was generated during the accident, and that it resolidified and collected in the lower head area. Additional inspections conducted in July 1985, focusing on other quadrants in the lower head, disclosed that the debris bed was shallower and the individual pieces smaller in those areas, in contrast to the earlier determinations.

In a separate effort, Edgerton, Germeshausen, and Grier, Inc. (EG&G), under contract to the Department of Energy, ascertained that some areas of the core had reached temperatures of at least 5,100° F (the melting point of uranium dioxide fuel) during the 1979 accident. This information, along with the lower head inspection data, was used to revise certain theories of the TMI-2 accident sequence.

05/15/1985

Reactor Vessel Plenum Assembly Removed. On May 15, 1985, the reactor vessel plenum assembly was lifted from its jacked position in the reactor vessel by the polar crane, using three specially designed pendant assemblies. It was then transferred by air to the flooded deep end of the refueling canal and lowered into its storage stand, where it remained throughout the defueling effort. The operation was completed in just under three hours by a lift team located in a shielded area within the reactor building. Details of the planning, training, and operations are documented in GEND-054, TMI-2 Reactor Vessel Plenum Final Lift.

08/1985

Licensees Waste Burial Privileges Suspended. The licensee’s burial privileges at the U.S. Ecology burial site in Richland were temporarily suspended in August 1985 when three barrels, out of a shipment of 104, were erroneously classified, labeled, and certified by the licensee as Class A radioactive waste.

20

The privileges were restored after Washington State officials approved corrective measures taken by the licensee to prevent future shipping and classification violations.

10/1985

Operators Started Removing Fuel Debris from Reactor. In October 1985, operators began to remove damaged fuel and structural debris from the reactor vessel by pick and placedefueling of the loose TMI-2 core debris. Workers performed defueling operations from a shielded defueling work platform (DWP), which was located nine feet above the reactor vessel flange. The platform had a rotating 17-foot diameter surface with six-inch steel shield plates, and was designed to provide access for defueling tools and equipment into the reactor vessel. The DWP supported defueling operators, specially designed long- handled tools, remote viewing equipment, and two jib cranes used to manipulate the tools. Numerous manual and hydraulically powered long-handled tools were used to perform a variety of functions, such as pulling, grappling, cutting, scooping, and breaking up the core debris. These tools were used to load debris into defueling canisters positioned underwater in the reactor vessel. The canisters were then sealed and transported using shielded canister transfer equipment to submerged storage racks in spent fuel pool Aof the auxiliary and fuel handling building (AFHB). The canisters were designed and stored to prevent an inadvertent criticality event. Following dewatering to control the buildup of combustible gases, the canisters were loaded into a specially designed shipping cask and transported to a Department of Energy facility in Idaho for interim storage and research.

In December 1985, several defueling canisters were filled with debris consisting of fuel assembly end fittings, control rod spiders, and small pieces of fuel assemblies. In January 1986, the first group of defueling canisters was sealed, dewatered, and transferred to storage racks in spent fuel pool Ain the AFHB.

Dose rates to personnel during the initial phase of defueling were low and remained low throughout the year, averaging less than 10 mrem/hr on the DWP and less than 40 mrem/hr near the shielded canisters during transfer. The licensee discontinued the use of respirators during defueling activities, based on air sample data collected during the first month.

21

Workers performed defueling operations from a shielded defueling work platform (DWP), which was located nine

Workers performed defueling operations from a shielded defueling work platform (DWP), which was located nine feet above the reactor vessel flange. The platform had a rotating 17-foot diameter surface with six-inch steel shield plates, and was designed to provide access for defueling tools and equipment into the reactor vessel.

for defueling tools and equipment into the reactor vessel. Numerous manual and hydraulically powered long-handled tools
for defueling tools and equipment into the reactor vessel. Numerous manual and hydraulically powered long-handled tools
for defueling tools and equipment into the reactor vessel. Numerous manual and hydraulically powered long-handled tools

Numerous manual and hydraulically powered long-handled tools were used to perform a variety of functions, such as pulling, grappling, cutting, scooping, and breaking up the core debris. These tools were used to load debris into defueling canisters positioned underwater in the reactor vessel.

22

1986

04/1986

Microorganisms Inside the Reactor Vessel. In April 1986, a large population

of microorganisms rapidly developed in the reactor coolant system (RCS), clogging the defueling water cleanup system filters and hindering the operatorsability to remotely view the defueling activities in the vessel. These growths, consisting of algae, fungi, and bacteria, as well as both aerobic and anaerobic organisms, proved difficult to kill in several tests. In April and May, the licensee conducted a multi-phase program to restore reactor vessel water clarity. The program consisted of high-pressure hydrolancing to remove growths adhering to reactor vessel surfaces, the addition of hydrogen peroxide as a biocide, and the use of a high-pressure positive displacement pump to kill the microorganisms. A diatomaceous earth (swimming pool-type) filter was then operated in conjunction with the letdown and makeup of batches of reactor coolant, to remove the organic material and improve the clarity of the RCS water. These techniques proved successful in restoring visibility in the vessel, and were repeated as necessary to maintain water clarity throughout defueling activities for fiscal year

1986.

Pick and place defueling was resumed in May, following the completion of

the water treatment program. However, it took more than a year to completely restore clarity and visibility.

Studies revealed that small amounts of hydraulic fluid from the defueling tools leaked into the reactor coolant and provided the organic food source for the microorganisms. This was aided by the correct water temperature and light from the underwater TV camera lights.

04/1986

NRC Approved Shipping Casks for Fuel Debris. In April 1986, the NRC issued certificates of compliance for the two NuPac 125-B Rail Casks to be used in shipping the fuel debris by rail. Each cask was designed to hold seven defueling canisters. The results of the tests required by Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 71, ―Packaging and Transporting of Radioactive Material,‖ are summarized in GEND-055, U.S. Department of Energy Three Mile Island Research and Development Program 1985 Annual Report.

Research and Development Program 1985 Annual Report. ‖ 23 NRC issued certificates of compliance for the

23

NRC issued certificates of compliance for the two NuPac 125-B Rail Cask to be used for shipment of the fuel debris by rail. Each cask was designed to hold seven defueling canisters. (DOE Photo)

07/1986

Licensee Submitted Proposal to Dispose Slightly Contaminated Radioactive Water. The licensee submitted for NRC approval a proposal for disposing of approximately 2.1 million gallons of slightly radioactive water, contaminated during the accident and used in subsequent cleanup operations. Out of the proposed alternatives, the licensee requested approval for a method involving the forced evaporation of the water at the TMI site over a 2.5-year period. The residue from this operation, containing small amounts of the radioactive isotopes cesium-137 and strontium-90, and large volumes of boric acid and sodium hydroxide, would require solidification and disposal as low-level waste.

07/1986

First Fuel Debris Shipped to DOE. The first off-site shipment of the fuel and debris removed from the damaged TMI-2 core took place in July 1986. Under a previous agreement with the NRC, Department of Energy took possession of the high-level waste at the TMI site boundary, and was responsible for the transport of the material and interim storage at the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory.

07/1986

Extent of Core Melt Realized. The licensee conducted a core stratification sample acquisition program. Most of the loose core debris had been removed from the reactor vessel, and more data were needed to plan the defueling of the material under the hard crust layer of the damaged core. A special drilling rig was assembled on top of the Defueling Work Platform, and 10 full-length sampling penetrations were made from the surface of the debris bed to inches above the lower head of the reactor vessel. The samples of the reactor core (approximately 2.5 inches in diameter and eight feet long) were analyzed at Idaho National Engineering Laboratory, along with earlier samples of the debris collected from the lower vessel head, in order to provide data on the material properties of the core debris.

09/1986

Drilling Operations Commenced. The heavy-duty tools were only marginally successful, so the drilling rig that was used earlier for boring core samples was reinstalled as the primary tool for breaking up the hard mass of core debris.

12/1986

Licensee Submitted Plans for Post-Defueling Monitored Storage. In December 1986, the licensee proposed to place TMI-2 in an interim monitored storage condition for an unspecified period of time, after the completion of the current defueling effort. The licensees term for this condition was ―post- defueling monitored storage.The facility would remain in the storage condition until TMI-1 was ready to be decommissioned. Both facilities would then be decommissioned together. NRC staff began the environmental review of the licensees proposal.

1987

06/1987

NRC Issued Supplement 2 to the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for Wastewater Disposal. In June 1987, the NRC issued Final Supplement No.2 to NUREG-0683, Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement,(PEIS) which dealt with the final disposal of 2.1 million gallons of slightly contaminated accident-generated water. The staff concluded that the licensees proposal to dispose of the water by forced evaporation to the atmosphere, followed by the on-site solidification of the remaining solids and their

24

disposal at a low-level waste facility, was an acceptable plan. The staff also concluded that no alternative method of disposing of the contaminated water was clearly preferable to the licensees proposal. An opportunity for a prior hearing to consider removing the prohibition on the disposal of the contaminated water was offered, and the matter was pending before the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board at the end of fiscal year 1987.

The NRC evaluated the licensees proposal together with eight alternative approaches, giving consideration to the risk of radiation exposure to workers and

to the general public; the probability and consequences of potential accidents;

the necessary commitment of resources, including costs; and regulatory constraints.

09/1987

Sludge Removal Completed. Sludge removal from the auxiliary building sump and the reactor building was completed, and flushing of the reactor building began in September 1987.

 

1988

1988

SDS Operations Completed. In 1988, the submerged demineralizer system (SDS), which was originally used to decontaminate the water in the reactor

building basement, was removed from service. During its service life, it processed 4,566,000 gallons of water. The defueling water cleanup system was used to process water from the reactor coolant system and the Aspent fuel pool. The Epicor-II system processed the remainder of the contaminated water

at

TMI-2.

02/1988

TMI-2 Project Directorate Dissolved. The TMI-2 Project Directorate was dissolved in February 1988. The inspection program for TMI-2 was assumed by the TMI resident inspection staff. Technical review and project management functions were assumed by a NRC Headquarters project directorate.

 

1989

04/1989

NRC Approved Evaporation of Accident-Generated Water. Public hearings on the licensees proposal to evaporate 2.3 million gallons of accident-generated water were held by the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB). The hearings concluded on November 15, 1988. On February 3, 1989, the Board issued a decision in favor of the licensee on all relevant issues. On April 13, 1989, the Commission affirmed the ASLBs decision without prejudice to any appeals. The licensee began to construct the evaporator in August 1989.

07/1989

NRC Co-Sponsored Research of Cracks in the Lower Reactor Vessel Head.

A 1989 video inspection of the reactor vessels lower head disclosed several

cracks that appeared to be associated with in-core instrument penetration nozzles. Higher quality color videos and a mechanical probe were used in August 1989 to obtain better information on the cracks. The cracks appeared to be up to approximately six inches long, 0.25 inches wide, and more than 0.19 inches deep, but not through-wall‖ (see photo below).

25

The TMI Vessel Investigation Project (VIP) was an international program sponsored jointly by the NRC and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development/Nuclear Energy Agency (OECD/NEA). Participants in this program included the U.S., Japan, Belgium, Germany, Finland, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. As described in the formal project agreement, the objectives of the VIP were to jointly carry out a study to evaluate the potential failure modes and the TMI-2 reactor vessels margin for failure during the TMI-2 accident. The conditions and properties of the materials extracted from the lower head of the TMI-2 pressure vessel were investigated to determine the extent of the damage to the lower head by chemical and thermal attack, the thermal input to the vessel, and the margin of structural integrity that remained during the accident. The examinations performed under the VIP went beyond the work that had been performed during the previous TMI-2 examinations; specifically, the VIP obtained and examined samples of the lower head steel, instrument penetrations, and previously molten debris that was attached to the lower head, and used this information to estimate the vessels margin for failure. The VIP included the development of the cutting tools to remove lower head samples, the metallurgical laboratory work, and the study and analyses of results. It took nearly five years to carry out the project, during which time nearly all of the objectives were accomplished.

which time nearly all of the objectives were accomplished. A 1989 video inspection of the reactor

A 1989 video inspection of the reactor vessel’s lower head disclosed several cracks that appeared to be associated with in-core instrument penetration nozzles.

26

Results from the VIP are documented in the following reports:

NUREG/CR-6185, ― TMI-2 Instrument Nozzle Examinations at Argonne National Laboratory ‖ TMI-2 Instrument Nozzle Examinations at Argonne National Laboratory

NUREG/CR-6187, ― Results of Mechanical Tests and Supplementary Microstructural Examinations of the TMI-2 Lower Head Samples Results of Mechanical Tests and Supplementary Microstructural Examinations of the TMI-2 Lower Head Samples

NUREG/CR-6194, ― Metallographic and Hardness Examinations of TMI-2 Lower Pressure Vessel Head Samples ‖ Metallographic and Hardness Examinations of TMI-2 Lower Pressure Vessel Head Samples

NUREG/CR-6195, ― Examination of Relocated Fuel Debris Adjacent to the Lower Head of the TMI-2 Reactor Examination of Relocated Fuel Debris Adjacent to the Lower Head of the TMI-2 Reactor Vessel

NUREG/CR-6196, ― Calculations to Estimate the Margin to Failure in the TMI- 2 Vessel ‖ Calculations to Estimate the Margin to Failure in the TMI- 2 Vessel

NUREG/CR-6198, ― TMI-2 Nozzle Examinations Performed at the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory ‖ TMI-2 Nozzle Examinations Performed at the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory

08/1989

03/1990

NRC issued Supplement 3 to the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for Post-Defueling Monitored Storage. In August 1989, the NRC issued NUREG-0683 Supplement 3, Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement Related to Decontamination and Disposal of Radioactive Wastes Resulting from March 28, 1979 Accident Three Mile Island Nuclear Station, Unit 2, Final Supplement Dealing with Post Defueling Monitored Storage and Subsequent Cleanup.This supplement evaluated the licensees proposal to complete the current cleanup effort and place the facility into monitored storage for an unspecified period of time. The licensee had indicated that the facility would likely be decommissioned following the storage period, at the time that Unit 1 was decommissioned. Specifically, the supplement provided an environmental evaluation of the licensees proposal and a number of alternative courses of action from the end of the current defueling effort to the beginning of decommissioning. However, it did not provide an evaluation of the environmental impacts associated with decommissioning. NRC staff had concluded that the licensees proposal to place the facility in monitored storage would not significantly affect the quality of the human environment. Furthermore, any impacts associated with this action were outweighed by its benefits. The benefit of this action was the ultimate elimination of the small but continuing risk associated with the conditions of the facility, resulting from the March 28, 1979, accident. The draft supplement was issued for public comment in April 1988.

1990

Defueling Completed. The licensee’s defueling crews completed bulk defueling in December 1989. In March 1990, they completed the final re-flushing and re- vacuuming for loose, dust-like debris. A total of 308,000 pounds of core debris and commingled structural materials was removed from the reactor vessel and coolant system during the five-year effort.

27

04/15/1990

Final Fuel Debris Shipped. The final fuel shipment of fuel debris to the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory was made on April 15, 1990.

National Engineering Laboratory was made on April 15, 1990. Last shipment of fuel debris leaving TMI

Last shipment of fuel debris leaving TMI to DOE in 1990. (DOE Photo)

04/26/1990

Plant Operations Transitioned. The licensee submitted documentation to justify transition from Mode 1 (defueling) to Modes 2 through 3. In Mode 2, defueling was completed and, thus, boration of the reactor coolant system and staffing of the control room by licensed operators was no longer required. In Mode 3, off- site shipment of the fuel was completed and boration of the spent-fuel storage pools was no longer required. The three criteria for changing from Mode 1 to Mode 2 were as follows:

(1)

The reactor vessel and reactor coolant system were defueled to the

(2)

extent reasonably achievable. The possibility of a criticality in the reactor building was precluded.

(3)

There were no canisters containing core material in the reactor building.

The additional requirement for transition to Mode 3 was that no canisters containing core material remained on the TMI site. The NRC staff and consultants from Battelle Memorial Institute, Pacific Northwest Laboratory, performed a detailed technical review and inspection to verify that the criteria were met. The facility made the transition from Mode 1 to Mode 2 on April 26, 1990, and to Mode 3 the following day.

28

1991

01/24/1991

Evaporator Operations Began. The evaporator system began to vaporize the slightly contaminated accident-generated water on January 24, 1991, after a prolonged period of system testing, modification, and repair. At the end of September 1991, a total of 738,800 gallons had been decontaminated and vaporized.

07/1991

Reactor Vessel Drained. The reactor vessel was drained to take final measurements of the residual fuel remaining in the vessel. The reactor vessel fuel measurement program was the final step in the special nuclear materials accountability program at TMI-2. The measurement technique made use of an array of helium-filled detectors to measure fast neutrons produced by the residual fuel. Calibrations were made using americium-beryllium and californium sources.

1992

02/1992

NRC Issued a Safety Evaluation for Post-Defueling Monitored Storage. Back in August 1988, the licensee submitted a Safety Analysis Report to document and support their proposal to amend the TMI-2 license to a possession-onlylicense, and to allow the facility to enter post-defueling monitored storage (PDMS). In February 1992, the NRC issued a Safety Evaluation for post-defueling monitored storage,which addressed the license conditions and technical specifications necessary to implement PDMS following evaluations by NRC staff and contractor consultants from Battelle Memorial Institutes Pacific Northwest Laboratory. As part of the evaluation, the staff published a technical evaluation report, which appraised PDMS as an integrated process and assessed licensee commitments that were not within the technical specifications. These two documents and Final Supplement 3 to the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement(NUREG-0683), which was issued in August 1989, formed the basis for the NRC’s position on the PDMS.

Later, the NRC issued a possession-only license on September 14, 1993.

1993

07/1993

Residual Fuel Remaining in TMI Systems Determined. In July 1993, NRC staff issued an analysis confirming earlier analyses by the licensee, which indicated that the fuel remaining in the TMI-2 reactor vessel would remain subcritical, with an adequate margin for safety, during post-defueling monitored storage. NRC staff and consultants from Battelle Pacific Northwest Laboratories performed independent evaluations and made independent measurements of these earlier fuel measurements in the auxiliary and reactor buildings. The licensees current best estimate of the residual fuel in the reactor vessel was 2,040 pounds (925 kilograms), based on data from recently completed fast- neutron measurements. For the balance of the facility external to the reactor vessel, earlier licensee estimates, based on measurements, sample analyses, and visual observations, indicated that no more than 385 pounds (174.6 kilograms) of residual fuel remained.

29

08/1993

Evaporation of Accident Water Completed. The decontamination and evaporation of 2.23 million gallons of accident-generated water were completed in August 1993.

09/14/1993

NRC Issued Possession-Only License. On September 14, 1993, the NRC approved the post-defueling monitored storage and issued a possession-only license.

09/23/1993

Last Meeting of the Public Advisory Panel Held. The last meeting (78 th overall) of the 10-member Advisory Panel for the Decontamination of Three Mile Island Unit 2 was held on September 23, 1993. The Panel, composed of citizens, scientists, and state and local officials, was formed by the NRC in 1980 to provide input to the Commission on major cleanup issues. The principal topics discussed at these meetings included the NRC staff’s safety evaluation and technical evaluation report addressing post-defueling monitored storage, the status and progress of cleanup at the TMI-2 facility, and the decommissioning funding status and plans.

Lessons learned from the Public Advisory Panel were published in NUREG/CR- 6252, ―Lessons learned from the Three Mile Island Unit 2 Advisory Panel.

from the Three Mile Island Unit 2 Advisory Panel. ‖ The Advisory Panel for the Decontamination

The Advisory Panel for the Decontamination of Three Mile Island Unit 2 held its last meeting in 1993. Panel members attending the final meeting are pictured (names are provided in the NRC 1994 Annual Report, NUREG- 1145, Vol. 10, Page 50).

30

1994

1994

TMI-2 Placed in Post-Defueling Monitored Storage. In 1994, TMI-2 was placed in post-defueling monitored storage (PDMS), a passive, monitored state. The licensee will maintain Unit 2 in PDMS until TMI Unit 1 permanently cease operation. At that time, the licensee would decommission both units simultaneously. NRC staff continues to monitor TMI-2, and requires the licensee to submit regular PDMS reports summarizing ongoing Unit 2 activities.

References

Primary sources used in these timeline narratives include the NRC annual reports listed below and abstracts from NRC technical (NUREG) reports mentioned in this timeline.

1. USNRC, 1979 NRC Annual Report,NUREG-0690, March 1980.

2. USNRC, 1980 NRC Annual Report,NUREG-0774, March 1981.

3. USNRC, 1981 NRC Annual Report,NUREG-0920, June 1982.

4. USNRC, 1982 NRC Annual Report,NUREG-0998, June 1983.

5. USNRC, 1983 NRC Annual Report,NUREG-1090, June 1984.

6. USNRC, NRC Annual Report,NUREG-1145, Vols. 1-12 (1984-1995), various dates.

9/6/2012

31