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TMI Employees Reprimanded For Leak Rate Test Manipulations

January 10, 1986

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) _ A panel of utility executives has imposed penalties on 17 employees at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in connection with falsified results of tests measuring leakage from a reactor cooling system.

Four top executives of General Public Utilities Corp., the plant owner, handed out penalties ranging from two weeks’ loss of pay to letters of reprimand. Their decisions were based on an in-house investigation into the 1978 and 1979 incidents involving the Unit 2 reactor.

The report, completed in September, evaluated 24 employees and cleared seven of them. Of the remaining 17, only two manipulated test results and two others were strongly suspected of having done so, the report said. The others, including three managers, were reprimanded for not doing enough to spot or head off the test doctoring.

The report was forwarded to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Unit 2 was badly damaged in March 1979 during the worst accident in the history of U.S. commercial nuclear power. Cooling water was lost and the radioactive core partially melted, releasing radioactive gas to the atmosphere.

No definite link between the falsified test results, which under-reported the leakage rate, and the accident has been established.

The former TMI operator, Metropolitan Edison Co., pleaded guilty in February 1984 to one charge that it knowingly used ″inaccurate and meaningless″ test methods at Unit 2. The tests are supposed to detect leakage from the nuclear reactor’s cooling system. Excessive leakage can force the reactor to be shut down.

The company also pleaded no contest to six counts of manipulating test results, destroying records and not filing proper notice that the plant’s cooling system had excessive leaks.

Later this year, the NRC is to hold hearings on individual roles in the incidents. The GPU panel, made up of the heads of the current plant operator, GPU Nuclear Corp., and GPU’s three electric generating companies, said it could review and revise its actions if the NRC develops new information.

The panel imposed the toughest financial penalties on three shift supervisors, who the company said should have known the test results were faulty but did little to correct the problem.

Former technical support superintendent George Kunder, former station supervisor Gary Miller and former Met Ed Vice President John Herbein were given letters of reprimand although they did not know of the test doctoring, because they were responsible for Unit 2.

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