Joseph M. Hendrie is a former chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). On August 9, 1977 he was named to a four-year term on the Commission and designated as its chairman by President Jimmy Carter. From 1975 to 1977, Hendrie had served as chairman of the Department of Applied Science at Brookhaven National Laboratory.
Education and early career
He worked at Brookhaven from 1955 to 1977.
Three Mile Island accident
On March 28, 1979, the Three Mile Island nuclear plant, along the Susquehanna River located south of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, suffered a partial meltdown. Although the meltdown was contained and radiation leakages were minimal, there were still worries that an evacuation would be necessary. Immediately following the accident, Hendrie advised Pennsylvania Governor Dick Thornburgh to order the evacuation "of pregnant women and pre-school age children ... within a five-mile radius of the Three Mile Island facility." Within days, 140,000 people had left the area.
Fukushima reactors and accident
In the period when the GE Mark 1 commercial nuclear reactor designs were being installed and started up by Tokyo Electric Power Company at Fukushima, Japan, Hendrie addressed the design. "In 1972, Atomic Energy Commission safety official Stephen Hanauer recommended that the Mark I design be discontinued, arguing that the small containment design left it vulnerable to explosions from hydrogen buildup. At the time, soon-to-be-chairman of the [NRC ...] Hendrie said acceptance of the Mark I technology was so widespread that 'reversal of this hallowed policy, particularly at this time, could well be the end of nuclear power'." In the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster following the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, Fukushima reactors saw several hydrogen explosions, amongst other breakdowns.
- Dr. Joseph M. Hendrie, Chairman Profile, US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, August 1977 (Page Last Reviewed/Updated Thursday, March 29, 2012). Accessed February 28, 2010.
- A Decade Later, TMI's Legacy Is Mistrust The Washington Post, March 28, 1989, p. A01.
- Corbett, James, "Marks to Market: America’s Nuclear Time Bombs", BoilingFrogsPost.com via FukushimaUpdate.com, February 28, 2012. For the Hendrie quote, Corbett linked to a NY Times article dated 2011-03-16. Citation of the Times article, Hendrie's words and further design considerations also found at Bob Hennelly, "GE Design at Japan Nuclear Facility Found at Many Plants in U.S.", WNYC News, March 16, 2011. Retrieved 2012-08-09.
- "Hydrogen explosions Fukushima nuclear plant: what happened?", hyer.eu.
- Presidents, American Nuclear Society webpage. Retrieved 2012-08-09.