Exploration & Processing - Winter 2011 - (Page 12)
OIL SPILL RECOVERY
BY JOHN H. O’NEILL AND MARK L. FARLEY
AFTER THE FALLOUT
WHAT CAN THE OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY LEARN FROM THREE MILE ISLAND?
or the U.S. nuclear industry, the major accident etched into public consciousness is Three Mile Island (TMI). For the oil and gas industry, the Deepwater Horizon explosion and resulting Gulf oil spill have replaced the Valdez accident as the worst industry disaster in recent memory. Yet despite the fallout, aggressive actions taken by the nuclear industry after TMI to achieve operational excellence and safety have markedly improved the performance of nuclear power plants and are even credited with helping restore public support for nuclear power. Safety consciousness and quality control are at the forefront of every decision, every activity, at every moment, with no exceptions.
Given the impact the Gulf oil spill has had on the oil and gas industry and the public’s perception about its ability to operate safely, let’s review the deliberate actions regulators and the nuclear industry undertook after TMI to see what lessons can be learned and emulated. Emergency Response TMI Unit 2 was a large nuclear reactor operating on an island in Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna River in 1979. A chain of events that included equipment failures and improper operator actions led to a loss
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This was followed by numerous extensive investigations and reports instituted by the president, congressional committees, the state of Pennsylvania, the NRC and the nuclear industry itself. Notable among them were the Report of the President’s Commission headed by Dartmouth president John Kemeny and the report to NRC Commissioners prepared by NRC staff and Mitchell Rogovin. It’s important to note that the Kemeny Commission Report, the Rogovin Report and many other independent studies found no adverse health effects from the TMI accident. Other than the plant itself, the accident did not damage property in the region, and there was relatively little economic impact from the accident. Strong Safety Culture The striking conclusion of the Kemeny Commission report was its finding that the “equipment was sufficiently good that, except for human failures, the major accident at Three Mile Island would have been a minor incident.” The report harshly treated the reactor vendor, the operating utility and its parent company, and the NRC. All shared the blame for deficiencies in operator training. The NRC was criticized for poor management, misplaced priorities, complacent attitudes and that it “sometimes erred on the side of the industry’s convenience
of coolant in the reactor, extremely high temperatures, and partial melting of the nuclear fuel. Unlike the fictional threat of The China Syndrome, the melted fuel was contained in the plant’s reactor building, or containment, and relatively little radiation was actually released to the environment. The immediate response by the utility, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the governor of Pennsylvania and that state’s agencies, the reactor vendor, and the nuclear industry focused on addressing the accident and putting the plant in a safe condition.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Exploration & Processing - Winter 2011
Exploration & Processing - Winter 2011
A Natural Solution
After the Fallout
Uranium on the Rise
Galleon Energy Inc.
Gibraltar Mines Ltd.
The Municipal Group of Companies
Selwyn Resources Ltd.
Redmond Minerals Inc.
Copper Fox Metals
OFM Pump Inc.
Sunshine Oilsands Ltd.
Pacific Rubiales Energy Co.
Thermo Design Engineering
Alexco Resource Corp.
North American Palladium
Mammoet Canada Eastern Ltd.
Industrial Equipment Manufacturing Ltd.
Guyana Goldfields Inc.
Flotek Industries Inc.
Dominion Terminal Associates
Compressor and Engine Service LLC
BEHR Energy Services Ltd.
LoneStar Energy Fabrication
American Oil & Gas – The Goliath Project
Alberta Oilsands Inc.
Southern Petroleum Laboratories Inc.
Cochrane Technologies Inc.
Crystal Flash Energy
Energold Drilling Corp.
Esperanza Resources Corp.
Explorator Resources Inc.
Rush Sales Co.
Kimber Resources Inc.
Nelson Bros. Oilfield (1997) Services Ltd.
Gulf Copper and Manufacturing
Exploration & Processing - Winter 2011