Three Mile Island Crisis Case Study

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On the 28th of March, 1979, a small valve at the nuclear plant Three Mile Island, USA (from here on referred to as TMI) malfunctioned and caused cooling water to drain from the valve, which resulted in the nuclear core beginning to overheat (President's Commission on the Accident at Three Mile Island, 1979). When the operators faced ringing alarms in the control room, combined with contradictory readings, they shut off the emergency water supply, which only made the core overheat at a higher rate. During the crisis, communication was a chaos, and information was widespread and not all available at the different relevant parties. Due to this, many mistakes were made which resulted to a partial meltdown of the core, and unnecessary panic across…show more content…
Staw, Sandelands, and Dutton (1981) state “there may be a general tendency for individuals, groups, and organizations to behave rigidly in threatening situations.” A threat may result in limited information processing, and a threat may lead to more hierarchy and centralization of power. These two factors will lead to a more rigid, less flexible response during times of crisis. This more rigid response can have either a positive, or a negative effect, depending on the environmental change. The theory can be summarized using figure 1 from Staw etc al. (1981), see appendix…show more content…
When a crisis strikes, leaders often come to endure great stress, while there is still the necessity to make quick and solid decisions. Two others mentioned are effective communication, and risk taking in the sense that a leader should not rely on old habit too much, and be innovative with their decision, instead of making rigid decisions. Hayata (2012) argues that the leaders at TMI were expected to: “(1) put the nuclear reactor under control, (2) assure the safety of residents near the reactor, […] (3) deal with radioactively contaminated food and water, and most importantly (4) convey the accurate information to the public.” It went wrong from the beginning on, when the accident was not even reported to the local government, but attempted to be

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