The nuclear accident at Three Mile Island in March 1979 was as much a social-systems failure as it was an engineering failure. It raised questions not only about the regulation and management of nuclear-power plants but also about the effects of nuclear accidents on the community, on society, and on the total controversy surrounding nuclear energy. Questions were also raised about public perceptions of the risks of high technology. At the request of the President's Commission on the Accident at Three Mile Island (the Kemeny Commission), the Social Science Research Council commissioned social scientists to write a series of papers on the human dimensions of the event. This volume includes those papers, in revised and expanded form, and a comprehensive bibliography of published and unpublished social science research on the accident and its aftermath.
Foreword -- Introduction -- Public Perceptions of Nuclear Energy -- Psychological Aspects of Risk Perception -- Public Response to a Major Failure of a Controversial Technology -- Institutional Responses to Different Perceptions of Risk -- Local Responses to Nuclear Plants -- Reactions of Local Residents to the Accident at Three Mile Island -- Report of the Task Group on Behavioral Effects -- Community Attitudes Toward Nuclear Plants -- Emergence of Community Doubts at Plymouth, Massachusetts -- Institutional Responsibilities for Nuclear Energy -- Social Aspects of Nuclear Regulation -- Who Should Be Responsible for Public Safety? -- The Accident at Three Mile Island: The Contribution of the Social Sciences to the Evaluation of Emergency Preparedness and Response -- The Public's Right to Know: The Accident at Three Mile Island -- The Role of the Expert at Three Mile Island -- The Interaction of Social and Technical Systems -- Human Factors in the Design and Operation of Reactor Safety Systems -- The Human Equation in Operating a Nuclear-Power Plant -- The President's Commission and the Normal Accident -- On the Design and Management of Nearly Error-Free Organizational Control Systems -- Implications for Public Policy -- The President's Commission: Its Analysis of the Human Equation -- Some Lessons Learned