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Normal Accidents by Charles Perrow

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CHAPTER 1

Normal Accident at Three Mile Island

Our first example of the accident potential of complex systems is the accident at the Three Mile Island Unit 2 nuclear plant near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on March 28, 1979. I have simplified the technical details a great deal and have not tried to define all of the terms. It is not necessary to understand the technology in any depth. What I wish to convey is the interconnectedness of the system, and the occasions for baffling interactions. This will be the most demanding technological account in the book, but even a general sense of the complexity will suffice if one wishes to merely follow the drama rather than the technical evolution of the accident.*

TMI is clearly our most serious nuclear ...

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