You are on page 1of 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 ES‖ refers 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 24hour 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:

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

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).

04/01/1979

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 accident’s 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.

04/11/1979

President’s Commission Created. On April 11, 1979, President Carter issued
Executive Order #12130, creating the President’s 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 plants’ readiness 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-2’s 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 staff’s 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

The first phase culminated in the issuance of NUREG-0578. Licensee technical qualifications. and Standards Development began to identify and evaluate those safety concerns originating from the TMI-2 accident that required licensing actions.000 people estimated to live 4 . On May 10. ―Population Dose and Health Impact of the Accident at the Three Mile Island Nuclear Station: Preliminary Estimates for the Period March 28. ―TMI-2 Lessons Learned Task Force: Status Report and ShortTerm Recommendations‖ (July 1979). ―TMI-2 Lessons Learned Task Force: Final Recommendations. 05/10/1979 Ad Hoc Dose Assessment Group Report Issued. ―Final Report of Bulletins and Orders Task Force of the Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation. (2) system design requirements.were documented in the report NUREG-0645. The report contained a preliminary assessment of the radiation dose and potential health impact of the accident. Nuclear Regulatory Research. Reactor transient and accident analysis.‖ was issued in October 1979 to complete this phase. 1979. Education. Licensing requirements for safety and process equipment. In May 1979. The collective dose received by the 2. (3) nuclear power plant operations. NUREG0558. The task force proceeded in two phases: Short-Term Recommendations. and management. In the second phase of its work. the Department of Health. The scope of the task force assignment covered the following general technical areas: Reactor operations. The report concluded that the estimated dose that might have been received by an individual was less than 100 mrem. based on a favorable review by NRC’s independent Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards (ACRS) received in August. evaluation. including operator training and licensing. On-site emergency preparations and procedures. the task force considered more fundamental questions in the design and operation of nuclear power plants. and Welfare. Inspection and Enforcement. and controls. instrumentation. 05/1979 TMI-2 Lessons Learned Task Force Formed. The Director of NRR ordered the implementation of 23 short-term licensing requirements in September 1979. capability. and in the licensing process. and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Feedback.164. NRR accident response role.‖ was issued by the Ad Hoc Dose Assessment Group. and (4) nuclear power plant licensing. The issues were grouped into four general categories: (1) general safety criteria.‖ issued in January 1980. Final Recommendations. which comprised various federal agencies. This assessment was prepared by a task group composed of technical staff from the Environmental Protection Agency. 1979 through April 7. an interdisciplinary team of engineers from the NRC’s Offices of Nuclear Reactor Regulation. NUREG-0585. and utilization of reactor operating experience. 1979.

On August 3. 1979 Three Mile Island Accident by Office of Inspection and Enforcement. The relative priority of the recommended changes and the estimation of the resources needed to implement them were left to IE line management. Preventive changes pervade all parts of the routine IE Inspection Program. The licensee was cited for failure to operate the facility in accordance with the Technical Specifications approved and adopted for that particular plant. from about 4:00 a. from the initiating event until midnight on March 30. a number of findings and recommendations were pursued.‖ The scope of the investigation was limited to (1) the licensee’s operational activities before the initiating event. 1979 to develop and recommend changes in IE programs based on TMI experience. and (2) steps taken by the licensee to control the release of radioactive material to off-site environs and to implement its emergency plan. As a result of this study. A total of 219 separate recommendations for change were generated in this review. Six ―violations. and audit activities. This corresponds to an average dose of approximately 1.m. The findings were later documented in NUREG-0616.300 person-rem (with a range of 1600 .m. 08/03/1979 IE Task Force on Lessons Learned Issued Report. Office of Inspection and Enforcement on Lessons Learned from Three Mile Island. As a result of the findings in NUREG-0600. 07/12/1979 IE Special Review Group Formed. the IE Director notified the licensee later in 1979 that their investigation had revealed ―numerous items of noncompliance‖ with NRC regulations on the part of the licensee. Violations Identified. Similar studies were published for the operating reactors designed by Westinghouse and Combustion Engineering. A Special Review Group from the NRC’s Office of Inspection and Enforcement (IE) was commissioned on July 12.‖ in December 1979. When combined. Both preventive and responsive aspects of IE programs and operations were studied. ranging from plant design to operation. ―Staff Report on the Generic Assessment of Feedwater Transients in Pressurized Water Reactors Designed by the Babcock & Wilcox Company. 05/30/1979 Feedwater Transients Studied and Report Issued. NUREG-0600.within a 50-mile radius of the reactor site was calculated to be 3. that evening.5 mrem. adherence to prescribed procedures. when primary coolant flow was reestablished by the starting of the reactor coolant pump. and for authorizing a surveillance procedure that placed certain valves in a status that rendered emergency feedwater unavailable on three 5 . these changes enhance the program and organizational effectiveness of the office. ―Report of Special Review Group.‖ were alleged by IE. 1979. The NRC issued NUREG0560. Responsive changes focus on the emergency preparedness of licensees and the NRC.‖ 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. development and review of procedures. control of maintenance activities. on March 28 up to about 8:00 p.5300 person-rem). ―Investigation into the March 28. including serious weaknesses in the licensee’s health physics program. the NRC’s Office of Inspection and Enforcement (IE) task force on lessons learned issued a report of the investigation of the TMI accident.

and affirmed that such procedures cannot be so detailed as to allow for every accident scenario. was the beta radiation rates in the room. Taking note of the study’s limited scope. however. On the contrary. is guilty of a violation. the ACRS declared. 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. was leaking from the valves. Generic Letter 79-43. The doses were as high as 166 rems to the whole body in one instance. There was a question as to whether an operator who. That judgment would be subject to post-factum appraisal by responsible parties. No medically significant effects were identified by medical examination. a deviation from the conditions assumed in the writing of the procedures may make it necessary to depart from those procedures. advising them that they should implement the recommendations of the Lessons Learned Task Force and the additional items 6 . It was decided that the time limit for each worker to stay in the radiation area was four minutes. 1979. and its conclusions based on that investigation. when it was needed. 08/29/1979 Personnel Overexposure Event. ACRS Review. The radiation survey instrument used by the workers showed a gamma dose rate in the room of 10 – 15 rems per hour in general. What the survey instrument failed to disclose. Letters (e. highly contaminated by the March 28 accident. but it should not necessarily be deemed an error or a violation of regulations. guided by written procedures. The ACRS found the IE report ―less than satisfactory‖ for these reasons and recommended issuance of a consolidated report on the findings of the NRC task forces investigating the TMI accident. of 25 rems per hour. the NRC’s independent Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards (ACRS) registered its view of the IE investigation later in 1979. Reactor coolant water. the ACRS felt that the emphasis put by IE on the licensee’s departure from technical specifications prior to the accident and from approved procedures during it resulted in too little consideration of other relevant factors. and that an operator.g. and expressed its concern that the IE report might give the impression that failure to follow accident procedures automatically counts as a violation. In a letter to Chairman Hendrie. On August 29. which were running as high as 2500 rems per hour. 09/13/1979 Recommendations from the Lessons Learned Task Force Sent to Licensees. using his best judgment. Personnel training were also found to be insufficient. The ACRS concluded that the limited scope of the IE report tended to lead to a catalogue of violations.. The ACRS stated that this was ―the wrong approach to protecting the public health and safety‖ in an emergency. in one small zone. consciously takes an action that deviates from the procedures (which in themselves may contain confusing or incorrect guidance). as well as record maintenance and inhouse inspections.separate occasions. It was later ascertained that the workers had received doses in excess of regulatory limits from the beta radiation. ―Follow-up Actions Resulting from the NRC Staff Reviews Regarding the TMI-2 Accident‖) were sent to all operating nuclear power plants. and. including on March 28. should be allowed to use his best judgment to deal with a problem. 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 161 rems in another.

A series of briefings was held to apprise reactor owners of these requirements. both of which were adversely affected in the short run. NUREG/CR-1215. 7 .‖ A second report. and political institutions. The NRC implemented a research program on the socioeconomic impact of the accident on the area. the NRC issued NUREG-0951. instructing them to implement the short-term lessons learned. and was prepared with the cooperation of the Governor of Pennsylvania’s Office of Policy and Planning and published in January 1980. business firms. churches. The report deals with the impact of the accident on the regional economy. It also appraises the accident’s effect on agriculture and tourism. Letters were also sent to applicants for construction permits and operating licenses. the Commission issued a Memorandum and Order directing the use of Epicor-II. schools. On August 14. 1979. The survey results were published in October 1979 in the preliminary report NUREG/CR-1093. seeking information on the activities of household members during and after the accident. prisons. 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. 10/1979 Socioeconomic Impact Study Report Issued. ―The Social and Economic Effects of the Accident at Three Mile Island: Findings to Date. their demographic characteristics. The first element of this program was done as a telephone survey covering 1. This survey was the broadest and most detailed of the studies undertaken in the wake of the TMI accident. local government agencies. the value of real estate. 1979. Finally.‖ On October 16. their attitudes toward TMI and nuclear power in general. ―Three Mile Island Telephone Survey.500 households within 55 miles of TMI. The approach adopted by NRC staff in seeking swift implementation of the shortterm requirements allowed licensees to fulfill those requirements prior to NRC staff review. hospitals. 1979.‖ expands upon the telephone survey. and homes for the elderly. the report estimates the long-term effects of the accident on persons. ―Environmental Assessment Use of Epicor-II at Three Mile Island Unit 2. and both the shortterm and continuing socioeconomic effects of the accident. the business community. as of the end of fiscal year 1980. On October 3.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. 10/16/1979 Epicor-II System Approved.

Dr. The President’s Commission on the Accident at Three Mile Island presented its final report to the President on October 30. National Security Advisor. Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Each vessel contains ion-exchange resin. Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality. 8 . The cells are concrete-shielded. Domestic Policy Advisor. 1979) 10/30/1979 President’s Commission on the Accident at Three Mile Island Submits its Final Report (also known as the Kemeny Report). White House Energy Policy Coordinator. and a vent line with attached overflow hose. Executive Office of the President was the Chairman. galvanized corrugated steel cylinders seven feet in diameter and 13 feet high. Each is fitted with three quick-disconnect hoses: a liquid waste influent line. It consists of three process vessels (steel liners) shielded by four-inch lead enclosures located in the chemical cleaning building. The vessel at the top of the photo at the left is the system prefilter/demineralizer. James McIntyre. Frank Press. President Carter assigned a nine-person interagency panel to review the report by the Kemeny Commission. Elliot Cutler.The "Epicor-II" system that was used to decontaminate some 380. White House Counsel. "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). Also on the interagency panel were: Energy Undersecretary John Deutch. The modular design allowed additional storage modules that could be built on an as-needed basis. The storage module shown under construction has 4-foot thick walls and is 57 feet wide and 91 feet long. Zbigniew Brzezinski and Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Gus Speth. 1979. and the third vessel is a mixed-bed polishing ion-exchanger. Lloyd Cutler. (Source: NRC Annual Report. Vented air from each vessel passes through a special filter and charcoal absorber. Stuart Eizenstat. a processed waste effluent line. Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy.000 gallons of intermediate-level radioactive water held in the auxiliary building tank at the TMI-2 site is shown above. Each module holds about 60 storage cells. John Macy. the center vessel is a cation ion-exchanger.

and by NRC’s Special Inquiry Group. the National Academy of Public Administration (in the area of emergency response). ―NRC Views and Analysis of the Recommendations of the President’s Commission on the Accident at Three Mile Island. I and II.11/20/1979 NRC Responded to the Recommendations from the President’s Commission. Most of the people eventually assembled to assist in the inquiry were drawn from the NRC’s professional staff. Supplemental views from individual NRC Commissioners were included in the NUREG report. and a private firm experienced in human factors engineering. 12/07/1979 President Carter Responded to the Recommendations from the Kemeny Commission. Stern. Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy.‖ 1980 01/1980 Special Inquiry Group Issued its Report (also known as the Rogovin Report). The Commission contracted with the law firm of Rogovin. The results of the special inquiry were published in January 1980 as NUREG/CR-1250 Vols. 1979 constituted an ―extraordinary nuclear occurrence.‖ On August 17. Back in July 1979. Following a period of study by the interagency panel. as were some lawyers with investigative experience. the NRC issued NUREG-0632. and Huge to have the firm assume directorship of the group and responsibility for its work. On November 20. 1979. Also contributing to the study—mainly by providing specialized technical expertise—were some of the national laboratories within the Department of Energy. Executive Office of the President. 01/1980 Determination of an Extraordinary Nuclear Occurrence Issued. under independent directorship. and an assessment of its implications. carefully screened to avoid any conflicts of interest. A copy of the President’s letter is provided on page 62 of NUREG-0690. the NRC formally initiated the determination as to whether or not the accident at the TMI-2 reactor on March 28. ―Three Mile Island – A Report to the Commissioners and to the Public. Within weeks of the accident at Three Mile Island. the President issued his response to the recommendations on December 7. and report its findings and recommendation to 9 . Frank Press. ―1979 NRC Annual Report. 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.‖ Volume II has three parts. evaluate public comments. 1979. the NRC decided to establish a Special Inquiry Group to carry out. a thorough analysis of the causes of the accident. A number of technical consultants in the areas of accident investigation and safety management were also engaged to assist with the inquiry. 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). The preliminary views of the NRC in each of the major topical areas of the President’s Commission recommendations were summarized. 1979.‖ The NRC was requested to provide this response by Dr.

that (1) required that. ―Safety Evaluation and Environmental Assessment. Docket No. as amended.‖ 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. the facility be maintained in accordance with the requirements of the attached proposed Technical Specifications. and thus should be rigorously scrutinized from the standpoint of its effect on the public. the Commission noted that the events at Three Mile Island constituted the most serious nuclear accident to date at a licensed U. Unit No.the Commission. effective immediately. 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. based on the experience from the accident at TMI-2 and the 10 . Back on June 25. Metropolitan Edison Company. Jersey Central Power and Light Company.‖ in January 1980. 50-320.‖ The Commission concluded that proceeding with the determination was in the public interest for two reasons. The Atomic Energy Act of 1954. Early 1980 Underground Monitoring Wells Installed. and which the Commission determines has resulted or will probably result in substantial damages to persons off-site or property off-site. so as to ensure that the unit would remain in a safe posture during the Recovery Mode. Three Mile Island Nuclear Station. or causing radiation levels off-site. taking into account the present condition of plant systems.. special nuclear. In May 1980. First.any event causing a discharge or dispersal of source. which the Commission determines to be substantial. Second. or byproduct material from its intended place of confinement in amounts off-site. 1979. Unit 2. defines the term ―extraordinary nuclear occurrence‖ as: ―. Pennsylvania Electric Company. In early 1980.S. On February 11. the NRC issued NUREG-0647. in which the determination of whether or not an ENO had taken place was pertinent. 05/1980 NRC Action Plan (NUREG-0660) Issued. ―NRC Action Plan Developed as a Result of the TMI-2 Accident. the Commission noted the pendency of various lawsuits concerning the accident. 02/11/1980 Recovery Technical Specifications Implemented. This staff report finds and recommends that the TMI-2 accident did not constitute an ENO. 1980. The Act further states that the Commission shall establish criteria in writing setting forth the basis upon which the determination shall be made. 2. ―Report to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission from the Staff Panel on the Commission’s Determination of an Extraordinary Nuclear Occurrence (ENO).‖ This report contained an NRC Order for the Three Mile Island Nuclear Station. and (2) proposed to formally amend the Facility Operating License to include the proposed Technical Specifications. facility. The findings were documented in NUREG-0637. and acknowledged the informal request of the federal district court in Harrisburg to make this determination as expeditiously as possible. the NRC issued NUREG-0660. the NRC provided draft Recovery Technical Specifications to the licensee for review..

The statement discussed several alternative options and the potential environmental impacts associated with each. 06/28/1980 Purging of the Reactor Building Atmosphere Began. the Commission issued a modification of the TMI operating license setting off-site dose limits for the purge. 1980. and (5) the NRC’s functional role in overseeing the implementation of approved licensee activities. 1982. The report by the Special Senate Investigation of the TMI accident—undertaken at the behest of the Subcommittee on Nuclear Regulation of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works—was published in July 1980. the NRC’s Commission issued a Memorandum and Order authorizing the licensee to clean the reactor building atmosphere by means of a controlled purge. the Governor of Pennsylvania. ―NRC Plan for Cleanup Operations at Three Mile Island Unit 2. 11 .‖ 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. Environmental Assessment prior to purging. was carried out under detailed procedures approved by NRC staff. (4) the NRC’s/licensee’s estimated schedule for major actions. ―Final Environmental Assessment for Decontamination of the Three Mile Island Unit 2 Reactor Building Atmosphere. together with the comments from the public. 1984. NRC activities and programs not related to the accident at TMI-2 were not described in this Action Plan. On the same day. 07/1980 Special Senate Investigation of the TMI Accident Issued its Report. and March. which began on June 28. The investigation focused on three discrete aspects of the TMI accident: events of the first day. and events prior to the initiation of the TMI accident. and local agencies and officials. as well as from non-governmental organizations and private individuals. Purging Operations Began. NUREG-0662. Two revisions were later issued in February. Following appropriate revisions responding to the comments received. cleanup activities at the TMI site. or release of contaminated air through filter systems. The NRC’s TMI Program Office issued NUREG-0689. (2) the functional roles of these organizations in cleanup operations. The operation was completed 14 days later (see below). (3) the NRC’s review and decision making procedure for the licensee’s proposed cleanup operation. 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.official studies and investigations of the accident. Having reviewed the staff assessment and recommendations. NRC Issued Order to Purge. the public. Approximately 800 responses were received from various federal. 07/1980 NRC Action Plan for Cleanup Operations Issued. and additional reviews and analyses by NRC staff. The purging operation. NRC staff issued for public comment a draft environmental assessment of a number of alternative options for the decontamination of the reactor building atmosphere.‖ was issued in May 1980. and many others. and the licensee in coordinating activities. state. Back in March 1980.

and transporting nuclear waste. The first entry into the reactor building containment was conducted by two utility staff on July 23. the Department of Environmental Resources of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. 1980 (photo at left). off-site radiation monitoring programs were conducted by the licensee. The statement addressed the principal environmental impacts that can be expected to occur as a consequence of cleanup activities. Department of Energy and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It discussed four fundamental activities necessary to the cleanup: (1) treatment of radioactive liquids. The purging operation. 1980. The statement (NUREG-0683. The first entry team spent approximately 20 minutes inside the reactor building. ―Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement Related to Decontamination and Disposal of Radioactive Wastes Resulting from March 28. and also by private individuals through the Community Radiation Monitoring Program set up by the U. and (4) packaging. 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. 1980. In addition. was completed on July 11. and a general area beta and gamma survey was conducted to acquire data at the entry level. 29 pictures and six 100-cm swipes were taken. the Environmental Protection Agency.S.07/11/1980 Purging of the Reactor Building Atmosphere Completed. Measurements showed that about 43. (2) decontamination of the building and equipment. Docket No. NRC staff prepared the draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement dealing with the decontamination and disposal of radioactive waste resulting from the TMI accident. storing. including occupational and off-site 12 . Responding to a directive issued by the Commission on November 21. 1979. (3) removal of fuel and decontamination of the coolant system. the NRC. 50-320‖) was released for public comment on August 14. members of the NRC staff were on-site to monitor the licensee’s activities.000 curies of krypton-85 was released during this period. 1979 Accident. During the entry into containment. During the entire operation. 1980. 08/14/1980 Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement Issued for Public Comment. and the amounts were determined to be insignificant. 07/23/1980 First Reactor Building Entry. handling. Unit 2. which began on June 28. Three Mile Island Nuclear Station. Samples from the release flow were analyzed to ascertain the presence of radionuclides other than krypton.

to provide a comprehensive and integrated plan to improve safety at power reactors. ―Clarification of TMI Action Plan Requirements. applicability. Back in April 1979. In a report to the Commission by the Director of NRC’s Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation in September 1980. the Panel interacted with Congress and other federal agencies to ensure the safe and expeditious cleanup of TMI-2. socioeconomic effects. NUREG-0636. in a document entitled ―Three Mile Island: The Most Studied Nuclear Accident in History. Specific items from NUREG-0660 have been approved by the Commission for implementation at reactors. April-September 1979. submittal dates. The program used a device called a whole body counter. local and state governmental officials. ―Lessons Learned from the Three Mile Island-Unit 2 Advisory Panel. A 13 . and scientists. 09/1980 NRC Issued Report on the Consequences of Bankruptcy. The Advisory Panel for the Decontamination of TMI-2 met for the first time on November 12.radiation doses and resultant health effects. In addition to soliciting views from members of the public. 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. the NRC issued NUREG-0737. NRC staff developed the Action Plan. Following the accident at TMI-2. In December 1980. ―Potential Impact of Licensee Default on Cleanup of TMI-2. which called for the development of a safety goal for nuclear reactor regulation. It should be noted that the total set of TMI-related actions have been collected in NUREG-0660. and clarification of technical positions. Pennsylvania. the possibility and potential consequences of bankruptcy on the part of the TMI licensee were explored at length. meeting regularly with both the public and NRC Commissioners. but only those items that the Commission had approved for implementation prior to publication were included in NUREG-0737. 1980. In this report. Findings were documented in NUREG-0689. 11/1980 Clarification of the TMI Action Plan Issued. which measures very small quantities of radioactivity in people. and held 78 meetings over 13 years. ―The Public Whole Body Counting Program Following the Three Mile Island Accident: Technical Report. these specific items comprise a single document. 11/12/1980 Public Advisory Panel Formed by NRC. The General Accounting Office (GAO) issued its report on the TMI-2 accident to Congress on September 9.‖ was issued in August 1994. 1980 in Harrisburg. In November 1980.‖ 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). and documented the analysis of the lessons learned and preliminary conclusions on the effectiveness of the Panel. and the effects of psychological stress. NUREG/CR-6252. 12/1980 Public Whole Body Counting Program Report Issued. methods of implementation review. which includes additional information on schedules.‖ 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.‖ was issued. The 12-member Panel included local citizens. NUREG-0660.‖ 09/09/1980 First GAO Report Issued.

the investigation revealed that information was not intentionally withheld during the accident. 01/1981 Investigation into Information Flow During the Accident Report Issued. The final PEIS reaffirmed the draft statement’s conclusion that the decontamination of the TMI-2 facility. and additional interviews were conducted to clarify areas that had not been pursued during earlier investigations. was necessary for the long-term protection of public health and safety. In January 1981. the NRC issued NUREG-0683. 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. and conclusions were discussed. parameters. which directed the Office of Inspection and Enforcement to resume its investigation of information flow during the accident at TMI-2. ―Investigation into Information Flow During the Accident at Three Mile Island. 02/27/1981 Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement Issued. 03/25/1981 NRC Approved Disposal of Epicor-II Resin Liners. and that methods exist or can be suitably adapted to perform the cleanup operations with minimal release of radioactivity to the environment. Although the passage of time between the accident and post-accident interviews hampered precise recollections of events and circumstances. including the removal of the nuclear fuel and radioactive waste from the TMI site. and systems during the accident at TMI. 1979 Accident.‖ was issued in response to a request from NRC Chairman Ahearne. and that those spent resin liners that were similar to normal 14 . leading to a total of 762 whole body counts. and children were successfully counted.total of 753 men. agencies. nine of these were counted a second time. On February 27. and local officials. Several people with higher-than-average levels of naturally occurring radioactivity were identified. Some Accepted by DOE. ―Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement Related to Decontamination and Disposal of Radioactive Wastes Resulting from March 28. 1981 01/05/1981 Plant Entered Loss-to-Ambient Cooling Mode. women. and personnel from Metropolitan Edison was analyzed to ascertain what knowledge was held by various individuals regarding the specific events. The licensee requested that the requirement for the solidification of spent EpicorII resins be waived. The counting systems used were briefly described. This permitted several previously required cooling systems to be de-energized and decommissioned. media. results. The final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) included the staff’s responses to nearly 1. Three Mile Island Nuclear Station. Following tests starting in November 1980. NUREG-0760. the reactor coolant system was placed in the loss-to-ambient cooling mode on January 5. and that the system for the effective transfer of information was inadequate during the accident.000 comments received on the draft statement (following a 90-day comment period). 50-320. Unit 2. Docket No. Maximum use was made of existing records.‖ NRC staff held 31 meetings with the public. 1981 by heat losses to the reactor building ambient (maintained by the reactor building fan coolers). There was no radioactivity identified in any member of the public that could have originated from the radioactive materials released following the accident. Technical problems. 1981. The transfer of information between individuals.

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. whereas. The criteria in Appendix R of the PEIS for TMI-2 cleanup activities were more restrictive than those for the operating power reactors. The Commission’s policy statement declared that the cleanup should be expedited and activities carried out in accordance with the criteria in Appendix R of the PEIS. Ecology burial site at Richland. and concluded that the PEIS (NUREG-0683) satisfied the Commission’s obligations under the National Environmental Policy Act. they were design objectives to be met on the ―as low as reasonably achievable‖ principle. 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. During 1982.reactor resin wastes be disposed of by shallow land burial at a commercial disposal site. (Source: NRC Annual Report. 04/27/1981 NRC Policy Statement that Endorsed the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement Issued. since the Appendix R values were limits that could not be exceeded. and lowered into shipping casks beneath to maintain shielding of radioactive material. 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 last of these liners was shipped on June 27. The requirement to solidify the remaining 50 Epicor-II pre-filter spent resin liners was also waived. 1981. Research in resin radiation degradation was reported in several NRC and DOE reports. The Commission issued a policy statement endorsing the final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS). Washington. 1981 from the TMI site to the U. in which all 22 liners were successfully disposed. several shipments of the casks were made to various laboratories for study and tests. Epicor-II liners at TMI-2 are transferred from site storage areas in the cask shown at top. On June 26. NRC approval to dispose of these 22 liners in this manner was issued on March 25. 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. 1981) 15 . for operating power reactors.S. which limited the doses to off-site individuals from radioactive effluents resulting from cleanup activities. with the exception of the disposal of processed accident-generated water.

1981. It consisted of a liquid waste treatment subsystem. due to a number of design changes and technical questions from the staff. 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. and dispose of on a reimbursable basis from the licensee. a gaseous waste treatment subsystem. 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). 1980.000 gallons of intermediate-level water were completely processed.06/18/1981 NRC Approved the Use of the Submerged Demineralizer System. commercial low-level waste burial facilities. but which DOE may also undertake to remove. The licensee started processing the high-activity water in September 1981. formal NRC approval was not given until June 1981. 16 . On April 10. This was a significant step toward ensuring that the TMI site would not become a long-term waste disposal facility. Supplement 2. in one of the spent fuel pools of TMI Unit 2. In the event that additional cleanup of the effluent from SDS was required. it could be recycled through SDS or ―polished‖ (refined) with the EpicorII system. issued in June 1987). The liquid waste treatment subsystem was designed to decontaminate the high-activity wastewater by filtration and ion exchange. (2) waste determined to be unsuitable for commercial land disposal because of high levels of contamination. The SDS operated underwater. and a solid waste handling subsystem. The NRC’s review of the submerged demineralizer system (SDS) formally started when the licensee submitted the report ―Technical Evaluation Report. and did not cover liquid waste resulting from the cleanup activities. the remaining 100. 07/15/1981 NRC and DOE Signed Memorandum of Understanding. to be disposed of by the licensee in licensed. However. store. 1981. 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. The approval to operate SDS did not include water disposal. The primary components of the liquid waste treatment subsystem included two filters. The SDS described in the licensee’s TER was designed to provide controlled handling and treatment of the highly contaminated wastewater generated during the accident. The MOU covered only solid nuclear waste. Submerged Demineralizer System‖ in April 1980. On June 18. On July 15. the NRC and Department of Energy (DOE) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). Decisions related to the disposal of processed water were made by the Commission at a later date (see NUREG-0683. and (3) waste considered suitable for shallow land burial. the licensee formally submitted its Technical Evaluation Report (TER) and requested permission to operate an underwater demineralization system. 1981. and two parallel trains of four identical inorganic zeolite-filled ion exchanger vessels. All processed water was stored in existing on-site tanks.

The General Accounting Office (GAO) issued a report entitled ―Greater Commitment Needed to Solve Continuing Problems at Three Mile Island. To mitigate future regulatory constraints on nuclear accident cleanup activities. 1982.000 curies of radioactive material on zeolite ion-exchange media. and contained approximately 12.800 curies of radioactive material. 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. This vessel was used to process wastewater from the reactor-coolant bleed tanks. The terms of ultimate disposal of the core will be negotiated between DOE and the utility operating the TMI facility. The liner contained approximately 1. Subsequent shipments included liners containing more than 50. DOE also agreed to take possession of highly radioactive resins from the purification system. ―NRC Plan for Cleanup Operations at Three Mile Island Unit 2. DOE agreed to accept the entire core for research and development. 17 .‖ 08/1981 GAO Issued Report. Revision 2. Washington for disposal. the first waste vessel from the submerged demineralizer system (SDS) was shipped from TMI to DOE facilities in Hanford.‖ 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. and was shipped on August 17 to the Battelle Columbus Laboratories in West Jefferson. one of the 49 high specific activity Epicor-II liners stored onsite was sampled for gas composition at TMI. Revision 1. and was shipped in a special cask designed to withstand severe transportation accidents. 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 MOU is provided in Appendix A to NUREG-0698. 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. ―NRC Plan for Cleanup Operations at Three Mile Island Unit 2.000 curies of radioactive material removed from reactor building sump water. and for storage at a DOE facility. On May 21. On July 27. The revised MOU is provided in Appendix A to NUREG-0698. 1982 03/15/1982 NRC and DOE Revised Memorandum of Understanding to Accept Fuel and Resins. 1982. On August 25. again on the basis of future reimbursement by the utility. DOE conducted research on glass vitrification (solidification) of this type of solid waste at Hanford. Ohio for radiation and chemical characterization tests.‖ 05/21/1982 First SDS Liner Shipped to DOE . a second liner was shipped from TMI to the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory for characterization tests.

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

―Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement Related to Decontamination and Disposal of Radioactive Wastes Resulting from March 28. ―TMI-2 Reactor Vessel Head Removal.‖ 10/1984 NRC Issued Supplement 1 to the Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement Dealing with Occupational Radiation Dose. and operations are documented in GEND-044. (Source: NRC Annual Report. Supplement 1. Three Mile Island Nuclear Station. the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) was supplemented to revise the staff’s earlier estimates of occupational radiation exposure resulting from the cleanup. the NRC’s TMI Program Office issued NUREG-0683. Details are documented in NUREG/CR3884. 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 . 50-320 Supplement Dealing with Occupational Radiation Dose.‖ Survey in progress of the polar crane inside the reactor building. training. In October 1984. Details of the planning. Docket No. In July 1984. 1981) 1984 07/1984 Reactor Pressure Vessel Head Removed. 1979 Accident.‖ In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act. 1984. ―Evaluation of Nuclear Facility Decommissioning Projects: Summary Report .on February 29. the reactor pressure vessel head was removed using the reactor building polar crane and placed in shielded storage inside the reactor building. when a test assembly weighing 214 tons was lifted and moved along predetermined test paths. Unit 2.Three Mile Island Unit 2 Polar Crane Recovery.

The debris bed had the appearance of a gravel pile.‖ 08/1985 Licensee’s Waste Burial Privileges Suspended. and that it resolidified and collected in the lower head area. On May 15. where it remained throughout the defueling effort. beginning in January 1985. Edgerton. the reactor vessel plenum assembly was lifted from its jacked position in the reactor vessel by the polar crane. A group of Japanese utility companies pledged $18 million ($3 million for six years) to the cleanup. and Grier. in contrast to the earlier determinations. In a separate effort. training. Germeshausen. focusing on other quadrants in the lower head. Similar material was observed by sighting up through the lower diffuser plate of the core support assembly. the first video inspection of the reactor vessel lower head region revealed the accumulation of a substantial quantity—an estimated 10 to 20 tons—of accidentgenerated debris. under contract to the Department of Energy. it was evident that some molten material was generated during the accident. It was then transferred by air to the flooded deep end of the refueling canal and lowered into its storage stand. The draft supplement to the PEIS was issued back in March 1984 for public comment. composed of pieces normally three to four inches long and half as wide. voluntarily pledged funds totaling $25 million per year for six years. Although the composition of the debris could not be determined from the video inspections. along with the lower head inspection data. out of a shipment of 104. Alternative cleanup methods considered in the supplement either did not result in appreciable dose savings or were not known to be technically feasible. New estimates indicated that between 13. was used to revise certain theories of the TMI-2 accident sequence.000 person-rem were expected to be required. disclosed that the debris bed was shallower and the individual pieces smaller in those areas. 1985. The operation was completed in just under three hours by a lift team located in a shielded area within the reactor building. representing the utility industry. Ecology burial site in Richland were temporarily suspended in August 1985 when three barrels. Details of the planning. The Edison Electric Institute. In February 1985.000 and 46. making the total level of funding for cleanup activities in 1984 approximately $95 million. and operations are documented in GEND-054. using three specially designed pendant assemblies. The licensee’s burial privileges at the U.100° F (the melting point of uranium dioxide fuel) during the 1979 accident. Additional inspections conducted in July 1985. and certified by the licensee as Class A radioactive waste.anticipated. labeled. Inc. were erroneously classified. Cleanup was originally estimated to result in from 2000 to 8000 person-rem of occupational radiation dose. 05/15/1985 Reactor Vessel Plenum Assembly Removed. (EG&G). ―TMI-2 Reactor Vessel Plenum Final Lift. This information. 20 . ascertained that some areas of the core had reached temperatures of at least 5.S. 02/1985 First Video Inspection of Lower Head Region. 1985 01/1985 Cleanup Funding from Industry Pledged.

The canisters were designed and stored to prevent an inadvertent criticality event. 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. and two jib cranes used to manipulate the tools. based on air sample data collected during the first month. In January 1986. grappling. The canisters were then sealed and transported using shielded canister transfer equipment to submerged storage racks in spent fuel pool ―A‖ of the auxiliary and fuel handling building (AFHB). such as pulling. dewatered. operators began to remove damaged fuel and structural debris from the reactor vessel by ―pick and place‖ defueling of the loose TMI-2 core debris. the first group of defueling canisters was sealed. specially designed longhandled tools. which was located nine feet above the reactor vessel flange. In October 1985. control rod spiders. scooping. Dose rates to personnel during the initial phase of defueling were low and remained low throughout the year.The privileges were restored after Washington State officials approved corrective measures taken by the licensee to prevent future shipping and classification violations. These tools were used to load debris into defueling canisters positioned underwater in the reactor vessel. and was designed to provide access for defueling tools and equipment into the reactor vessel. several defueling canisters were filled with debris consisting of fuel assembly end fittings. cutting. 10/1985 Operators Started Removing Fuel Debris from Reactor. In December 1985. and transferred to storage racks in spent fuel pool ―A‖ in the AFHB. and small pieces of fuel assemblies. The platform had a rotating 17-foot diameter surface with six-inch steel shield plates. Workers performed defueling operations from a shielded defueling work platform (DWP). remote viewing equipment. and breaking up the core debris. The licensee discontinued the use of respirators during defueling activities. The DWP supported defueling operators. Following dewatering to control the buildup of combustible gases. averaging less than 10 mrem/hr on the DWP and less than 40 mrem/hr near the shielded canisters during transfer. 21 . Numerous manual and hydraulically powered long-handled tools were used to perform a variety of functions.

and breaking up the core debris. which was located nine feet above the reactor vessel flange. 22 . The platform had a rotating 17-foot diameter surface with six-inch steel shield plates. cutting.Workers performed defueling operations from a shielded defueling work platform (DWP). and was designed to provide access for defueling tools and equipment into the reactor vessel. grappling. These tools were used to load debris into defueling canisters positioned underwater in the reactor vessel. such as pulling. scooping. Numerous manual and hydraulically powered long-handled tools were used to perform a variety of functions.

a large population of microorganisms rapidly developed in the reactor coolant system (RCS). ―U. This was aided by the correct water temperature and light from the underwater TV camera lights. Part 71. Pick and place defueling was resumed in May. 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. and were repeated as necessary to maintain water clarity throughout defueling activities for fiscal year 1986. A diatomaceous earth (swimming pool-type) filter was then operated in conjunction with the letdown and makeup of batches of reactor coolant. clogging the defueling water cleanup system filters and hindering the operators’ ability to remotely view the defueling activities in the vessel. (DOE Photo) 23 . ―Packaging and Transporting of Radioactive Material. However. it took more than a year to completely restore clarity and visibility. 04/1986 NRC Approved Shipping Casks for Fuel Debris. the NRC issued certificates of compliance for the two NuPac 125-B Rail Casks to be used in shipping the fuel debris by rail. In April 1986.‖ are summarized in GEND-055.S. Department of Energy Three Mile Island Research and Development Program 1985 Annual Report. In April and May. The program consisted of high-pressure hydrolancing to remove growths adhering to reactor vessel surfaces. In April 1986. proved difficult to kill in several tests. the addition of hydrogen peroxide as a biocide. the licensee conducted a multi-phase program to restore reactor vessel water clarity.‖ NRC issued certificates of compliance for the two NuPac 125-B Rail Cask to be used for shipment of the fuel debris by rail. fungi. and the use of a high-pressure positive displacement pump to kill the microorganisms. These growths. These techniques proved successful in restoring visibility in the vessel. Each cask was designed to hold seven defueling canisters. following the completion of the water treatment program. consisting of algae. The results of the tests required by Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations. as well as both aerobic and anaerobic organisms. Each cask was designed to hold seven defueling canisters. to remove the organic material and improve the clarity of the RCS water.1986 04/1986 Microorganisms Inside the Reactor Vessel. and bacteria.

5-year period. followed by the on-site solidification of the remaining solids and their 24 . The licensee’s term for this condition was ―postdefueling monitored storage. and more data were needed to plan the defueling of the material under the hard crust layer of the damaged core. The licensee submitted for NRC approval a proposal for disposing of approximately 2. 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 heavy-duty tools were only marginally successful. after the completion of the current defueling effort. The staff concluded that the licensee’s proposal to dispose of the water by forced evaporation to the atmosphere. would require solidification and disposal as low-level waste. 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.1 million gallons of slightly radioactive water. The residue from this operation. In December 1986. NRC staff began the environmental review of the licensee’s proposal. Department of Energy took possession of the high-level waste at the TMI site boundary.‖ (PEIS) which dealt with the final disposal of 2. along with earlier samples of the debris collected from the lower vessel head. Most of the loose core debris had been removed from the reactor vessel. and large volumes of boric acid and sodium hydroxide.5 inches in diameter and eight feet long) were analyzed at Idaho National Engineering Laboratory. 12/1986 Licensee Submitted Plans for Post-Defueling Monitored Storage. in order to provide data on the material properties of the core debris. The licensee conducted a core stratification sample acquisition program. A special drilling rig was assembled on top of the Defueling Work Platform. contaminated during the accident and used in subsequent cleanup operations. the NRC issued Final Supplement No.2 to NUREG-0683. 09/1986 Drilling Operations Commenced. In June 1987.1 million gallons of slightly contaminated accident-generated water. 1987 06/1987 NRC Issued Supplement 2 to the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for Wastewater Disposal. the licensee requested approval for a method involving the forced evaporation of the water at the TMI site over a 2. 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. containing small amounts of the radioactive isotopes cesium-137 and strontium-90. The first off-site shipment of the fuel and debris removed from the damaged TMI-2 core took place in July 1986.07/1986 Licensee Submitted Proposal to Dispose Slightly Contaminated Radioactive Water. Out of the proposed alternatives.‖ The facility would remain in the storage condition until TMI-1 was ready to be decommissioned. ―Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement. Both facilities would then be decommissioned together. the licensee proposed to place TMI-2 in an interim monitored storage condition for an unspecified period of time. Under a previous agreement with the NRC. The samples of the reactor core (approximately 2. 07/1986 First Fuel Debris Shipped to DOE.

it processed 4. Sludge removal from the auxiliary building sump and the reactor building was completed. An opportunity for a prior hearing to consider removing the prohibition on the disposal of the contaminated water was offered. 25 . In 1988. giving consideration to the risk of radiation exposure to workers and to the general public. the Board issued a decision in favor of the licensee on all relevant issues. 02/1988 TMI-2 Project Directorate Dissolved. 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. and the matter was pending before the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board at the end of fiscal year 1987. was removed from service. the Commission affirmed the ASLB’s decision without prejudice to any appeals. the necessary commitment of resources. The cracks appeared to be up to approximately six inches long. The Epicor-II system processed the remainder of the contaminated water at TMI-2. The licensee began to construct the evaporator in August 1989.3 million gallons of accident-generated water were held by the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB). the submerged demineralizer system (SDS). 09/1987 Sludge Removal Completed. and flushing of the reactor building began in September 1987. Higher quality color videos and a mechanical probe were used in August 1989 to obtain better information on the cracks. the probability and consequences of potential accidents. On April 13. The NRC evaluated the licensee’s proposal together with eight alternative approaches. The TMI-2 Project Directorate was dissolved in February 1988. 1989.566. During its service life. including costs. 07/1989 NRC Co-Sponsored Research of Cracks in the Lower Reactor Vessel Head. Technical review and project management functions were assumed by a NRC Headquarters project directorate. 1988. The hearings concluded on November 15.disposal at a low-level waste facility. On February 3. and regulatory constraints. 1989 04/1989 NRC Approved Evaporation of Accident-Generated Water. 1988 1988 SDS Operations Completed. and more than 0. 0. The defueling water cleanup system was used to process water from the reactor coolant system and the ―A‖ spent fuel pool. The inspection program for TMI-2 was assumed by the TMI resident inspection staff. but not ―through-wall‖ (see photo below).000 gallons of water. Public hearings on the licensee’s proposal to evaporate 2. was an acceptable plan.19 inches deep. which was originally used to decontaminate the water in the reactor building basement. The staff also concluded that no alternative method of disposing of the contaminated water was clearly preferable to the licensee’s proposal.25 inches wide. 1989.

It took nearly five years to carry out the project. Italy. and previously molten debris that was attached to the lower head. Finland. the thermal input to the vessel. 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. and the study and analyses of results.S. Switzerland. Belgium. 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. the VIP obtained and examined samples of the lower head steel. The examinations performed under the VIP went beyond the work that had been performed during the previous TMI-2 examinations.. and used this information to estimate the vessel’s margin for failure. France. the objectives of the VIP were to jointly carry out a study to evaluate the potential failure modes and the TMI-2 reactor vessel’s margin for failure during the TMI-2 accident. and the United Kingdom. Spain. the metallurgical laboratory work. The VIP included the development of the cutting tools to remove lower head samples. Germany. and the margin of structural integrity that remained during the accident. Participants in this program included the U. Sweden. As described in the formal project agreement. 26 . Japan. specifically. during which time nearly all of the objectives were accomplished. instrument penetrations.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).

any impacts associated with this action were outweighed by its benefits. it did not provide an evaluation of the environmental impacts associated with decommissioning. NRC staff had concluded that the licensee’s proposal to place the facility in monitored storage would not significantly affect the quality of the human environment. The benefit of this action was the ultimate elimination of the small but continuing risk associated with the conditions of the facility. ―Examination of Relocated Fuel Debris Adjacent to the Lower Head of the TMI-2 Reactor Vessel‖ NUREG/CR-6196. at the time that Unit 1 was decommissioned. dust-like debris.‖ This supplement evaluated the licensee’s proposal to complete the current cleanup effort and place the facility into monitored storage for an unspecified period of time. The licensee’s defueling crews completed bulk defueling in December 1989. Furthermore. Specifically. The draft supplement was issued for public comment in April 1988. Unit 2. the NRC issued NUREG-0683 Supplement 3. ―TMI-2 Nozzle Examinations Performed at the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory‖ 08/1989 NRC issued Supplement 3 to the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for Post-Defueling Monitored Storage. ―TMI-2 Instrument Nozzle Examinations at Argonne National Laboratory‖ NUREG/CR-6187. 1979. 1990 03/1990 Defueling Completed. 1979 Accident Three Mile Island Nuclear Station. A total of 308. ―Results of Mechanical Tests and Supplementary Microstructural Examinations of the TMI-2 Lower Head Samples‖ NUREG/CR-6194. resulting from the March 28. In March 1990. ―Metallographic and Hardness Examinations of TMI-2 Lower Pressure Vessel Head Samples‖ NUREG/CR-6195. However. accident. In August 1989. ―Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement Related to Decontamination and Disposal of Radioactive Wastes Resulting from March 28.Results from the VIP are documented in the following reports: NUREG/CR-6185. The licensee had indicated that the facility would likely be decommissioned following the storage period.000 pounds of core debris and commingled structural materials was removed from the reactor vessel and coolant system during the five-year effort. the supplement provided an environmental evaluation of the licensee’s proposal and a number of alternative courses of action from the end of the current defueling effort to the beginning of decommissioning. 27 . Final Supplement Dealing with Post Defueling Monitored Storage and Subsequent Cleanup. ―Calculations to Estimate the Margin to Failure in the TMI2 Vessel‖ NUREG/CR-6198. they completed the final re-flushing and revacuuming for loose.

thus. The possibility of a criticality in the reactor building was precluded. offsite shipment of the fuel was completed and boration of the spent-fuel storage pools was no longer required. The NRC staff and consultants from Battelle Memorial Institute. 28 . There were no canisters containing core material in the reactor building. The facility made the transition from Mode 1 to Mode 2 on April 26.04/15/1990 Final Fuel Debris Shipped. Pacific Northwest Laboratory. defueling was completed and. The additional requirement for transition to Mode 3 was that no canisters containing core material remained on the TMI site. (DOE Photo) 04/26/1990 Plant Operations Transitioned. boration of the reactor coolant system and staffing of the control room by licensed operators was no longer required. performed a detailed technical review and inspection to verify that the criteria were met. The three criteria for changing from Mode 1 to Mode 2 were as follows: (1) (2) (3) The reactor vessel and reactor coolant system were defueled to the extent reasonably achievable. 1990. Last shipment of fuel debris leaving TMI to DOE in 1990. In Mode 2. and to Mode 3 the following day. The licensee submitted documentation to justify transition from Mode 1 (defueling) to Modes 2 through 3. 1990. The final fuel shipment of fuel debris to the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory was made on April 15. In Mode 3.

6 kilograms) of residual fuel remained. The reactor vessel fuel measurement program was the final step in the special nuclear materials accountability program at TMI-2. and visual observations. For the balance of the facility external to the reactor vessel. NRC staff issued an analysis confirming earlier analyses by the licensee. the licensee submitted a Safety Analysis Report to document and support their proposal to amend the TMI-2 license to a ―possession-only‖ license. indicated that no more than 385 pounds (174. 1992 02/1992 NRC Issued a Safety Evaluation for Post-Defueling Monitored Storage. These two documents and Final Supplement 3 to the ―Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement‖ (NUREG-0683). The measurement technique made use of an array of helium-filled detectors to measure fast neutrons produced by the residual fuel. Later. 29 . As part of the evaluation. the NRC issued a Safety Evaluation for ―post-defueling monitored storage. The reactor vessel was drained to take final measurements of the residual fuel remaining in the vessel. In July 1993. during post-defueling monitored storage. The evaporator system began to vaporize the slightly contaminated accident-generated water on January 24. based on measurements. Back in August 1988. sample analyses. formed the basis for the NRC’s position on the PDMS. and to allow the facility to enter post-defueling monitored storage (PDMS). after a prolonged period of system testing. The licensee’s current best estimate of the residual fuel in the reactor vessel was 2. 1993. modification. which appraised PDMS as an integrated process and assessed licensee commitments that were not within the technical specifications. a total of 738.040 pounds (925 kilograms). 1993 07/1993 Residual Fuel Remaining in TMI Systems Determined. which was issued in August 1989. At the end of September 1991.800 gallons had been decontaminated and vaporized. the NRC issued a possession-only license on September 14. Calibrations were made using americium-beryllium and californium sources. earlier licensee estimates.‖ which addressed the license conditions and technical specifications necessary to implement PDMS following evaluations by NRC staff and contractor consultants from Battelle Memorial Institute’s Pacific Northwest Laboratory. 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. 07/1991 Reactor Vessel Drained.1991 01/24/1991 Evaporator Operations Began. 1991. In February 1992. with an adequate margin for safety. the staff published a technical evaluation report. based on data from recently completed fastneutron measurements. which indicated that the fuel remaining in the TMI-2 reactor vessel would remain subcritical. and repair.

and the decommissioning funding status and plans.1145. 09/23/1993 Last Meeting of the Public Advisory Panel Held. 1993. On September 14. the NRC approved the post-defueling monitored storage and issued a possession-only license.‖ The Advisory Panel for the Decontamination of Three Mile Island Unit 2 held its last meeting in 1993. Lessons learned from the Public Advisory Panel were published in NUREG/CR6252. ―Lessons learned from the Three Mile Island Unit 2 Advisory Panel. The last meeting (78th overall) of the 10-member Advisory Panel for the Decontamination of Three Mile Island Unit 2 was held on September 23. 09/14/1993 NRC Issued Possession-Only License. Page 50). and state and local officials. composed of citizens. scientists. Vol. 1993. Panel members attending the final meeting are pictured (names are provided in the NRC 1994 Annual Report. 10. 30 .08/1993 Evaporation of Accident Water Completed. was formed by the NRC in 1980 to provide input to the Commission on major cleanup issues. The decontamination and evaporation of 2.23 million gallons of accident-generated water were completed in August 1993. The Panel. NUREG. the status and progress of cleanup at the TMI-2 facility. The principal topics discussed at these meetings included the NRC staff’s safety evaluation and technical evaluation report addressing post-defueling monitored storage.

USNRC. The licensee will maintain Unit 2 in PDMS until TMI Unit 1 permanently cease operation.‖ NUREG-1090. June 1983. ―1979 NRC Annual Report. USNRC. ―NRC Annual Report. ―1980 NRC Annual Report.‖ NUREG-0920. 9/6/2012 31 . At that time.1994 1994 TMI-2 Placed in Post-Defueling Monitored Storage. 1. 1-12 (1984-1995).‖ NUREG-0998. ―1983 NRC Annual Report. USNRC. USNRC. 5. 2. monitored state. TMI-2 was placed in post-defueling monitored storage (PDMS). a passive. 4. various dates.‖ NUREG-0774. June 1984. 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. March 1980. NRC staff continues to monitor TMI-2. the licensee would decommission both units simultaneously. June 1982. March 1981.‖ NUREG-0690. ―1982 NRC Annual Report. USNRC. ―1981 NRC Annual Report. USNRC. 3. and requires the licensee to submit regular PDMS reports summarizing ongoing Unit 2 activities. In 1994. Vols. 6.‖ NUREG-1145.