Report Of The President's Commission On
The Accident At Three Mile Island           > TMI-2 > Kemeny

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The Commission

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The Accident




It is just as important for the reader to understand what the Commission did not do.

Our investigation centered on one accident at one nuclear power plant in the United States. While acting under the President's charge, we had to look at a large number of issues affecting many different organizations; there are vast related issues which were outside our charge, and which we could not possibly have examined in a 6-month investigation.

We did not examine the entire nuclear industry. (Although, through our investigation of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, we have at least some idea of the standards being applied to it across the board.) We have not looked at the military applications of nuclear energy. We did not consider nuclear weapons proliferation. We have not dealt with the question of the disposal of radioactive waste or the dangers of the accumulation of waste fuel within nuclear power plants adjacent to the containment buildings. We made no attempt to examine the entire fuel cycle, starting with the mining of uranium. And, of course, we made no examination of the many other sources of radiation, both natural and man-made, that affect all of us.

We have not attempted to evaluate the relative risks involved in alternate sources of energy. We are aware of a number of studies that try to do this. We are also aware that some of these studies are subjects of continuing controversy.

We did not attempt to reach a conclusion as to whether, as a matter of public policy, the development of commercial nuclear power should be continued or should not be continued. That would require a much broader investigation, involving economic, environmental, and political considerations. We are aware that there are 72 operating reactors in the United States with a capacity of 52,000 megawatts of electric energy. An additional 92 plants have received construction permits and are in various stages of construction. If these are completed, they will roughly triple the present nuclear capacity to generate electricity. This would be a significant fraction of the total U.S. electrical generating capacity of some 600,000 megawatts. In addition, there are about 200 nuclear power plants in other countries throughout the world.

Therefore, the improvement of the safety of existing and planned nuclear power plants is a crucial issue. It is this issue that our report addresses, those changes that can and must be made as a result of the accident -- the legacy of Three Mile Island.