This item is only available as the following downloads:
Cowgill i The Tennessee Valley Authority and Nuclear Power: An Examination of Organizational Failure By: Michael Cowgill A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Sociology New College of Florida in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts Under the sponsorship of Dr. David Brain Sarasota, Florida May, 2011
Cowgill ii Table of Contents: 1. Introduction-72. Literature Review...8-243. Organizational Theory..25-43 4. Historical Context.44-63 5. A Narrative of Failure.64-103 6. Appendix A) Methods...104-106 B) Poem: From the Atlanta Journal .107 7. Bibliography.108-109
Cowgill iii The Tennessee Valley Authority and Nuclear Power: An Examination of Organizational Failure Michael Cowgill New College of Florida, 2011 Abstract The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is a government organization formed in 1933 with the passing of the TVA act as part of the New Deal. My project focused on TVAs production of electricity and the failure of the nuclear power program in 1985. Given past success I sought to explain how and why the nuclear power program failed. To do so, I utilized primary documents, acquired from the Atlanta National Archives that consisted of correspondence between the Freeman Board, congress, division heads within TVA, constituents, and industry actors. Theoretical frameworks utilized in my analysis included Weberian, Neo-Weberian, and Neo-Institutionalist organizational theory, along with Actor-Network Theory for interpreting primary documents and understanding relevant factors of program failure.Additionally, I juxtaposed the TVA in two different time periods, the New Deal and the 1970s-1980s era of failure. The importance of the two historical contexts is that one, the New Deal, provided a conducive environment for organizational success, while the 1970s and 1980s proved afar more difficult environment to adjust to. All in all, the documents revealed a lively actor network that unraveled because of technological instability, entrenched organizational practices, a new environment of organizational embeddedness, parameter shifts to said environment, the persistence of organizational myth, and the factor of group affiliation amongst actors. Such an analysis takes us far beyond the former and narrower understanding that the board of directors was primarily to blame for the nuclear program failure by situating the
Cowgill iv failure within different institutional environments along with the explication of an actor network that includes technology. Thesis Advisor X:____________________________ Dr. David Brain Division of Sociology
Cowgill 1 Introduction: The Early Days and Latter Failure The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is a government organization formed in 1933 by the passing of the TVA act, as part of the New Deal. Franklin D. Roosevelt characterized TVA as a totally different kind of agency. He asked Congress to create, a corporation clothed with the power of government but possessed of the flexibility and initiative of a private enterprise. 1 The TVAs primary aims from 1933 to 1945 were to develop and generate a means for producing hydroelectric power, provide flood control, improvewaterway navigation in the Tennessee Valley, engage in fertilizer development and farm demonstration programs, improve forestry practices, and improve the valley economy generally. These aims would continue to be paramount to the TVA, although historian Erwin C. Hargrove argues that from 1945-1970 the TVA largely became a power provider that relegated its other operational purposes to a secondary status. 2 Hargrove also points out a third historical period, from 1970-1988, during which the TVA sought out new missions to keep the organization heroic, or relevant. 3 During this time there was a failure to complete organizational goals that were attempts at maintaining relevance. One such failure is the nuclear debacle of 1985. In short, the TVA came about as a unique New Deal organization that was heroic insofar as it electrified the rural south, brought about new farming practices, and even elevated economic prosperity in the valley. However, such a successful, though controversial, state of affairs could only be sustained in the crisis situation in which the organization arose. Given this, the post 1 TVA Website:
Cowgill 2 New Deal TVA went on to be an organization seeking to maintain its relevance. This later search for organizational relevance would contribute to organizational failure. Early Success In 1933 TVA built the Norris Dam, which was the organizations first major project. It brought electricity and an improved economy while simultaneously controlling flooding that had plagued the region. It was met with opposition from conservatives, who opposed the TVA ideal of state corporatism, and from residents who were to be displaced. However, the dam was successfully constructed, and a model town (Norris, Tennessee) was constructed as a sign of TVA success in regional planning. 4 In short, the construction of Norris dam marks the TVAs inception as a successful organization given that it met all the goals intended. In addition, the dam was the beginning of the constructing of the TVA image as heroic as it was rescuing the valley economy during the great depression. Failure Juxtaposed to such early heroism and organizational success, is the focus of this project, organizational failure. In 1985 congress intervened in TVA nuclear program operations, and hired Admiral Steven White of the Nuclear Navy to the Board of Directors in 1986. 5 White was there to get TVA right with the Nuclear Regulatory commission, and to restructure the programs bureaucracy for improved operation.6 Although, initially a temporary move White became a long time board member given the sudden resignation of Richard Freeman (and David Freeman earlier). Their resignations 4 Hargrove 67 5 Hargrove 268 6 Ibid.
Cowgill 3 were never fully explained, but general consensus ties them to the programs failure and loss of control over the program. 7 White then set conditions of absolute authority over the nuclear power program, something unheard of to this point within TVA. 8 White established the program on a path to recovery by employing and contracting new engineers and managers while firing many of the old regime. Whites appointment marked a huge shift in the organization and marked the failure of the old nuclear power program. In short, Whites appointment marks organizational failure he marked the end of the era of the Freeman board that had pursued nuclear power as a means to maintain organizational relevance. Leadership and Heroism TheTVA Board of the New Deal was made up of Arthur Morgan, Harcourt Morgan, and David Lilienthal. It is David Lilienthal who is understood to have created the TVA as a heroic organization. Arthur Morgan was focused on planning and social engineering, as was Roosevelt, hence his selection of Arthur Morgan as the first chairman. Arthur Morgan was focused on creating model towns such as Norris, Tennessee to be constructed next to the Norris Dam and to be a model for the social organization of valley towns generally. 9 Both Harcourt Morgan and Lilienthal disagreed with such social engineering and saw the primary aims of the TVA as improving farming in the valley and providing power. Internal conflict within the board would lead to A.E. Morgans resignation in 1938. 10 7 Hargrove 268 8 Ibid. 2719 Ibid. 30910 Ibid.
Cowgill 4 To understand how the TVA came to be heroic we must analyze the role of early leadership. A.E. Morgan wanted TVA to be a laboratory for the nation for the organization and conduct of social life. TVA was to carry out social and economic demonstrations and experiments that were to be of general value. 11 H.A. on the other hand, made the contribution of creating the administrative form for grass roots democracy (a concept to be elaborated upon further in the literature review), the best known example of which was delegation of the agricultural program to the agricultural colleges of the valley. 12 David Lilienthals chief contribution was the development of a system for the distribution and sale of electric power. For this purpose, hefought the private utilities, and garnered the support of valley constituents. It is because of this that Lilienthal came to be seen as a heroto many in the valley while also creating the organization as heroic in accomplishing the tasks of economic recovery and electrification. In fact, after A.E. Morgans resignation in 1938, David Lilienthal became chairman. According to Hargrove, Lilienthals own belief was that too many public service commissions were captive of the utilities they regulated.13 Lilienthal was bent on making the private utilities change their questionable practices (e.g. not providing needed rural electrification for lack of profit) and also set on providing electricity at better rates to all those who were being exploited or ignored by such utilities. Thus, Lilienthal believed that TVA must be up and going before it could successfully negotiate [with private utility opposition], and this required the creation of new, publicly owned 11 Hargrove 34 12 Ibid.13 Ibid. 29
Cowgill 5 distributorships. 14 To contend with the opposition of private utilities that were arguing that the TVA was a case of creeping socialism and in fact unconstitutional would take quite a charismatic leader. Lilienthal fit the bill perfectly, in fact one colleague recalled, He had enormous gifts of leadership. He was a carpetbagger who was adopted very warmly by the people of the valley. I dont know of anyone else who could have brought the people of the valley to accept TVAHe has a good feeling for what they were interested in and knew how to combine economic aspirations with expression of idealism so that following their economic interest would seem comfortable to them. 15 In other words, Lilienthal was able to unite the valley around the aim of the TVA. This was enabled by the notion of grass roots democracy, which incorporated relevant organizations, institutions, and constituents into the planning and implementation process of TVA projects. Such a notion of the grass roots was the first organizational myth created by Lilienthal. Hargrove states of myth, A myth is not a fiction but a set of missions and aspirations that guide an organization and give it legitimacy with the rest of society. 16 The concepts of myth and organizational heroism and their importance to this project will be explained further in the theory and history chapters. Lilienthal successfully gave TVA legitimacy by creating the myth of grass roots democracy or that policy implementation could be decentralized at the grass roots so that government would act in close concert with the people it was serving. 17 Overall Lilienthal made the TVA heroic and created its primary organizational myth. 14 Ibid.4415 Ibid. 4516 Hargrove 49 17 Ibid.
Cowgill 6 Explaining Organizational Failure Given the rise to heroism during the New Deal and the fall of such an organizational giant in 1985, we are left to wonder, how and why the Tennessee Valley Authoritys nuclear program failed.Simply put, explaining that failure is the goal of this thesis. The concept of organizational failure is understood to be failure to succeed in implementing or completing a given organizational goal, such as the construction of nuclear power to replace aging steam plants. The time period being focused on was chosen because 1965 was when the TVA first officially embarked on establishing nuclear power as a dominant source of power generation, by approving the construction of 3 reactors at Browns Ferry, Alabama. 18 This occurred because, after a lengthy and thorough process of costing the alternative against coal-fired steam plants of equivalent magnitude. Nuclear power appeared to be less costly. 19 However, as we will see later cost estimates were usually incorrect and would contribute to increased debt, rates, and ultimately the overall debacle. On the other hand, 1985 was when various reactors were shut down and construction was canceled on many new reactors. As mentioned earlier, 1985 was also the year when leadership duty of the nuclear program was transferred from the TVA board to Admiral Steven White of the nuclear navy. This was significant as it was the TVAs first major non-internal hire, not to mention, this was the year that Congress first began to seriously inquire into the TVAs organizational structure and nuclear program. 20 18 Ibid. 16119 Ibid.20 Hargrove 243
Cowgill 7 Significance and Method The significance of this project derives primarily from its organizational perspective; in other words, understanding the failure of the TVA nuclear program will contribute to a better understanding of how government organizations fail within certain socio-historical contexts. Furthermore, because the project deals with risky technology, i.e. nuclear power, it can help elucidate how it is that organizations deal with risky technologies and how such technology mayfactor into failure. Finally, this study will produce a more nuanced understanding of the TVA as a unique organization by expanding upon its later history, which has not been the focal point of most academic work on the organization. To achieve the objective set out in the above line of inquiry, which as will be shown in the literature review, Erwin C. Hargrove has attempted to do, historical archival research has beenconducted. Research was done at the National Archives in Atlanta, Georgia. Primary documents and secondary sources have been synthesized to create a more complete account of how the program failed and what factors caused such failure.
Cowgill 8 Chapter 2: Literature Review This section will review early sociological studies of the TVA and studies that focus on the nuclear power program. Examining early work will provide a picture of how the TVA has been approached in the past. Early works will establish groundwork by revealing relevant facts, such as the use of Grass Roots Democracy as organizational myth, the existence of financial issues early on, and the formation of a certain organizational structure within TVA. The review of the nuclear power program primarily examines Hargrovesaccount of nuclear program failure. As the only academic account of the failure, Hargroves work provides relevant sources, and above all, allowsa point of departure for critique on which to build. The review of the literature on the nuclear power program also points out potential factors in the failure. Early Work on the TVA The Tennessee Valley Authoritys social consequences were a topic of immediate concern to scholars at its inception. This was because of its unique role as a government organization functioning as an electric utility. The TVAs primary aims from 1933 to 1945 were to improve the valley economy, develop and generate a means of producing hydroelectric power, provide flood control and improve navigation in the Tennessee Valley, engage in fertilizer development and farm demonstration programs, and improve forestry practices. 21 Sociologist T. Levron Howard set out in 1936 to address the role of The Social Scientist in the Tennessee Valley Authority Program. As Howard explains the ultimate objective of TVA as defined by congress is to promote the economic and social well21 Hargrove 8
Cowgill 9 being of the people of the region. 22 Howard explains that because of this aim and the unique organizational structure of the TVA, the organization is of profound interest to the social scientist. Howard argues that the TVA will have to deal with local governments and pre-existing institutions, which as will be elaborated upon later, was addressed through the practice of grass roots democracy. 23 Grass-roots democracy was essentially a doctrine of decentralization with regards to valley institutions. Hargrove summarizes it as, TVAs delegation of its assistance programs to farmers, to the seven land-grant colleges of the valley states, and to the county agent system. 24 Because of the general situation surrounding TVA and its aims, Howard explains that social scientists must work with the exact sciences to create a synthesis of knowledge useful to addressing the necessary issues that may arise. 25 Howard states that there are three types of essential studies to be conducted within the TVA. The first type concerns understanding the resources available in the area, including the people, institutions, mode of life, physical resources, and their utilization. 26 In other words, TVA needs exact information on the available resources (social and natural) in the region so that the TVA program can be properly adapted to such resources. Second, there is a need to understand the means by which these resources are utilized within the valley to stimulate private initiatives and to utilize public and semipublic organization. 27 In short, TVA must understand how the region functions to stimulate change, and must be able to work within the established social order of business 22 Howard 29 23 Selznick 1 24 Hargrove 6 25 Howard 29 26 Howard 30 27 Ibid.
Cowgill 10 and government. Finally, Howard states, the TVA needs to conduct studies on how to achieve its goals with an eye industry and agriculture. In other words, TVA must uncover the needs and wants of the people of the region so as to succeed. According to Howard, these are all integral to TVA success. Howard goes on to argue that the social scientist--the economist, and sociologist--in particular, are essential to research in the aforementioned study aims. They must examine the importance of tenancy farming practices, and account for the proper relocation of displaced families. Studies of family income, farming practices, and social conditions are necessary to properly relocate and obtain a picture of the social and economic conditions in the particular area. 28 The economist on the other hand must weigh the social benefits of new projects versus the value of the region to be taken out of production (by flooding behind dams). 29 In short, the social scientist must be heavily involved in the TVA program to account for the social implications of TVA activities. Overall, this earlypiece by T. Levron Howard is a pictureof the role of the social scientist in the early TVA. The piece is mostly written as a call to action for social scientists and explains that the social scientist is integral primarily because of the major social implications of the TVA program. It is wise to understand this piece as an example of early interest in the social consequences of the TVA, but not too much more. In fact, I will go on to review the early role of the social scientist in the TVA by examining Philip Selznicks, TVA and the Grass Roots. As far as understanding this piece in relation to the nuclear power program, it is useful in that it gives a picture of early TVA plans and how academics of the time understood the organization. Additionally, it reveals how New 28 Ibid. 3129 Howard 31
Cowgill 11 Deal reform, embodied in TVA, was guided by a holistic intellectual vision that incorporates various professions, experts, and social programs for one end. Phillip Selznicks, TVA and the Grass Roots: A Study of Politics and Organization was published in 1949 and was a seminal sociological study (conducted from 1942-43) of the TVAs organizational structure and the consequences of its grassroots democracy doctrine. 30 Selznick explains that his study gave attention to two themes: (1) How were the abstractions of the grass roots doctrine specified operationally, that is, how did they show up in the actual course of decisionmaking? (2) What effect did this operative conduct have on the moral posture and competence of the TVA as a government agency? 31 In other words, Selznick analyzed the operationalization and effects of the doctrine of grass-roots democracy. This is important because it is an example of how TVA organizational structure operated and functioned within the Tennessee Valleyduring its earlier years. The grass-roots doctrine arose out of the organizational need to come to terms with the local interests of the valley, or the need to effectively work with the established institutions, municipalities, and constituencies to be effected. Selznick summarizes the goals of the doctrine, as follows: 1. The responsible agency in the area of operation is permitted the freedom to make significant decisions on its own account. 2. There must be active participation by the people themselves in the programs of public enterprise. 3. The decentralized administrative agency is given a key role in coordinating the work of state, local, and federal programs in its area of operation; and a regional development agency should be given primary responsibility to deal with the resources of the area as a unified whole. 32 30 Selznick V 31 Ibid. Vi32 Ibid. 28-29
Cowgill 12 It was believed that the best means to accomplish these goals was organizational decentralization, which as Selznick points out, was essentially a delegation of programs to farmers, county institutions, and the seven land-grant colleges. 33 Either way it was believed that by working through state and local agencies, the Authority will provide the people of the valley with more effective means by which to direct their own destinies. 34 That is to say, the TVA would not become an organization that coerced change or subjected the valley to a certain form of regional planning, agricultural practices, and electrical power system. Instead it would work with the present constituency to ensure success. Furthermore, the TVA was utilizing this doctrine as both a means of gaining acceptance in a region that was notoriously independent and also as a means to structure its system of operation. Essentially the doctrine would have consequences for organizational structure based upon how it would establish certain operational practices within many of the divisions of the TVA, especially agriculture. Not to mention the doctrine would enable the TVA to become, more integrally a part of the region, committed to its interests and cognizant of its needs, and thus removed in thought and action from the remote impersonal bureaucracy of centralized government. 35 Interestingly the doctrine of grass-roots democracy did not apparently apply to the Division of Power. In power, the TVA carries forward its own program, with stringent contractual controls. In agriculture, the TVA has shaped its program to use the existing agricultural leadership. 36 In other words, the TVA established its power program independent from valley interests. It would operate under complete TVA control and with 33 Hargrove 6 34 Selznick 37 35 Selznick 37 36 Ibid. 57
Cowgill 13 the goals of the TVA in mind, not necessarily those of the constituency, which opens the possibility for problems with the nuclear power program later. This early autonomy, or exemption from overall doctrine, is understandable because the Division of Power was the only division that actually generated revenue during the early years. As such, it was the primary area of the TVA that was corporate, in short; the Division of Power embodied the essence of the TVA as a government corporation. Because of this the power program basically ignored local interests for its sake when necessary, such as when displacing thousands for constructing dams. 37 I hope to show later that this organizational practice, i.e. the Division of Powers autonomy and ability to act unilaterally, would be a contributing factor to the failure of the nuclear power program. Overall, Selznicks study is focused on the TVA as a social instrument, or as an organization. 38 He concludes that, where policy becomes institutionalized [i.e. grassroots democracy] as doctrine, unanalyzed elements will persist, and effective behavior will be framed in terms of immediate necessities.By this he means that future projects will be understood in terms of past organizational doctrineand practices that were taken as the norm will continue to be taken for granted. 39 My study will seek to expand upon this conclusion, as I suggest that such doctrine of the grass roots persisted, although in the form of intransigent past organizational structure, influenced by said doctrine, that shaped practices related to the nuclear programs failure. To summarize, Selznick concludes of his empirical argument that: 1. The grass-roots theory became a protective ideology. 2. The agricultural program was delegated to an organized administrative constituency. 3. In a 37 Ibid. 6038 Ibid. 339 Ibid. 257
Cowgill 14 context of controversy, the TVAs commitments to its agricultural constituency resulted in a factional alignment involving unanticipated consequences for its role on the national scene. 4. Under the pressure of its agriculturalists, the TVA gradually altered a significant aspect of its character as a conservation agency. 5. The grass-roots utilization of voluntary associations represents a sharing of the burdens of and responsibility for power, rather than of power itself.40 In short, the ideal of decentralization and involvement with the local constituency, embodied in the ideology of grass-roots democracy, became doctrine with an array of consequences for the organizational structure and practices of TVA. These included the delegation of the agricultural program to the seven land grant colleges of the valley, overall organizational decentralization, David Lilienthals practice of promoting local support of the power program by grass roots campaigns, and most importantly the autonomy of the Division of Power from the overall doctrine. It is clear that Selznicks study embodies what Howard stated that social scientists needed to accomplishin the valley, that is a study of the TVAs social impacts and its organizational state in relation to the valley as its area of operation. The importance of Selznicks work is manifold. Firstly, it is an example of an early sociological study of the TVA.Furthermore, it explains the doctrine of grass-roots democracy and the consequences of that doctrine for TVA organizational structure and practice. Of most importance to the study of the nuclear power program is the fact that from its inception onward, asillustrated by Selznick, the Division of Power was basically autonomous and not accountable to the local valley area. This foreshadows the problem of later rate increases and the local constituencies turn against TVA and its power program during the 1970s and 1980s. Thus, Selznick provides us with essential background on the TVAs 40 Selznick 264
Cowgill 15 organizational structure and operation generally, and clues us into the early establishment of Division of Power autonomy, through his examination of grass-root democracy. Overall, early studies of the TVA point out the autonomy of the Division of Power, financial issues related therein, and the general structure of the early TVA, all of which I suggest are factors in the eventual failure of the nuclear power program. Early structure may have been conducive to that time periods general political and social atmosphere; however, I hope to show that this would not be the case in the 1970s and 1980s. Now I will move into an examination of the nuclear power program specifically. The Nuclear Power Program The foremost scholar on the TVAs nuclear power program is Erwin C. Hargrove, who provides us with a strong and thorough analysis of TVA leadership from its inception onward. Hargrove focuses on TVA leadership and examines correspondence, congressional and internal, along with external critiques and commentaries to elucidate upon how it is that the TVA leadership became prisoners of myth. However, he points out many factors aside from the leaders and many factors that influenced leadership action that contributed to the failure of the nuclear program. I posit that these factors are far more integral to the failure than Hargroveallows and that the failure should be attributed to multiple factors equally and not simply just the leadership overall. To begin, we must examine the concept of myth. Hargrove states that myth is the ideology of an organization that manifestsin relations between those who enact it.41 In relation to organizational goals myth can be used as a means to justify projects and prevent internal conflict. Its efficacy in such cases can contribute to failure when 41 Hargrove 6
Cowgill 16 necessary conflict is avoided or doomed projects are stubbornly pursued, as I believe to be the case with the nuclear power program. Hargrove argues that the grass roots democracy ideology of the early TVA became myth and that as such, the agricultural programs were co-opted by the colleges and county agents to serve the needs of those organizations. 42 In other words, decentralization became a goal pursuedto no end. Additionally, it led to certain agencies pursuing their own ends and not necessarily those of TVA. I will argue that electricity also has a mythic character for early TVA, and of course later TVA. Hargrove argues that two tenets became almost religious doctrine: The first was the assumption that the cheaper the cost to the consumer, whether residential or industrial, the greater the use of electricity. This proved to be true in the early years of the power program. The second tenet was that the supply of electricity should always precede the demand for it, otherwise economic development of the valley would falter. This may have been true for much of TVA history, but it proved to be disastrous when applied to ambitious plans for nuclear power. 43 We can see here that Hargrove recognizes that the leadership was not the sole factor in failure, although he ultimately blames the board of directors because they were at fault for not altering the organizational practices that led to failure and for being prisoners of myth. However, I contend that such factors as supply preceding demand stem from organizational practices related to the Division of Powers autonomy and organizational obstinacy with regard to structural or operational change. Leadership may have been subject to the reified organizational practices of the past, i.e. myth, but I argue that their inability to promote change should not be seen as incompetence, but as a factor within a network of associated factors related to overall failure. 42 Ibid.43 Ibid. 7
Cowgill 17 Hargrove emphasizes leadership to such a degree that he states that the thesis of his book is that David Lilienthal matched TVA capacities to environmental demands in the early years, that TVA leaders of the 1970s and 1980sfailed in their strenuous attempts to put new wine in old bottlesThe 1985 nuclear debacle and new leadership provided an opportunity to recast organizational culture and perhaps create a new myth. 44 This statement is both insightful and ironic insofar as the milieu of the given time periods certainly influenced the ability of the organization to function well, something that will be elaborated upon in a narrative historical chapter. However, it also implies that failure cannot be unilaterally attributed to leadership because the external environment is a factor alongside many others tied to it. Hargrove appears to be investing singular actors with far to much agency in an organizational situation in which a single leader could not change past practices or alter organizational structure. I intend to show through primary documents that the time period was a factor, given issues in the uranium market, the oil crisis, and environmentalism, along with technological issues, the nuclear industry at large, construction practices, and much more of which was beyond the ability of leadership to address. To illustrate my point I will explain Hargroves account of the failure and reveal its insufficiency. Hargrove starts his analysis of the nuclear power program by examining the leadership of Aubrey J. Wagner who planned the initial nuclear power system of 17 nuclear reactors. 45 Hargrove states that, Wagner believed it was the chairmans task to persuade the public that TVA was doing right. 46 Wagner was a leader who believed that 44 Hargrove 8 45 Ibid. 15946 Ibid.
Cowgill 18 as long as the public was under the belief that all was well then it was. However, Wagner became notorious for fighting a losing battle against early environmental laws, like the Clear Air Act, and the organization (not Wagner) began to make mistakes in cost estimates ofnuclear construction. I believe these were problems for which he became a symbol, but was not the cause Interestingly, in discussing Wagners problems of leadership,Hargrove states, The virtues of decentralized professionalism, which had unleashed energy for invention and construction in the early years, became detrimental. These several offices, especially the engineering construction and power programs, were like juggernauts that bowled over everything in their way. 47 Hargrove is acknowledging here that there were factors within the organizational structure that were problematic, thus, it seems almost puzzling that he maintains that the leadership was the overall cause of the nuclear programs failure. I suggest that it would be wiser to understand the divisions within the TVA as singular and efficacious actors within a wider network of actors that are certainly important in the failure. To further illustrate this, Hargrove actually points out that organizational flaws that came to the forefront in 1985 can be seen in earlier times. In other words, some problems were part and parcel of the structure and operation of the TVA prior to failure and in many ways beyond the control of any leadership. These flaws included, excessive reliance on seniorityfor promotion, reluctance to bring in outside experts to deal with new problems, and conflict between engineering and power [divisions], which I suggest would lead to a sacrifice of careful construction of nuclear plants. 48 47 Hargrove 160 48 Ibid. 161
Cowgill 19 Hargrove later moves on to the Freeman board and focuses on chairman David Freeman (whose correspondence will be my main primary documents). According to Hargrove, David Freemans leadership strategy was to use a new policy planning process to invent missions that would revitalize what he saw as a sluggish TVA bureaucracy. 49 He wanted TVA to be an energy laboratory for the nation, and in order to do so he believed organizational changes would be necessary. 50 His main change however, was simply questioning the standard operating procedures. However, as Hargrove explains, Freemans questioning only succeeded in alienating some, making others within the organization hostile toward him, and basically did not end with any substantive change. With regards to nuclear power, which many thoughtFreeman would oppose given his support for environmental policy within TVA, he embraced TVA plans to build the largest nuclear power system in the world, arguing that, unlike other utilities, TVA would have surplus power to sell to other regions of the country. 51 However, Freeman did admit that construction costs on nuclear plants was already driving up consumer rates, yet he stressed getting the plants up and running as a means to stabilize costs and rates. According to Hargrove, such vigor to complete projects that were already appearing problematic is an illustration of Freeman as a prisoner of myth insofar as he had hopes of reinventing TVA and completing the nuclear project as a way of reviving the early heroism of the organization (something I will establish later). I agree with Hargrove here, yet, I think it is crucial to point out thateven if theleadership were prisoners of myth, the factors of rates and costs were still efficacious beyond just their relation to the board. 49 Hargrove 196 50 Ibid.51 Ibid. 201
Cowgill 20 I contend that it is better to analyze the failure as consisting of many factors including leadership, not just some factors that leadership was primarily accountable for. In fact, we can see the collusion of multiple actors as relevant in the fact that Freeman believed it possible for TVA to complete the construction of reactors through 1986 within the $15 billion debt limit set by congress. However, this would turn out to be unfeasible and the limit would be raised to $30 billion prior to 1986. 52 In a case such as this we see the efficacy of leadership as a factor in failure. Additionally the factor of Congress is present, prior to these years Congress had a disinterest in TVA spending until the debt was already $15 billion deep. To continue, another factor that Hargrove alludes to but does not emphasize, is the fact that construction stoppages began because of faulty predictions of power needs. Hargrove states, and does so in a way that blames leadership when really the blame should be on the Division of Power that was producing demand predictions, Freeman was privately concerned that TVA might be building beyond the valleys future energy needs. 53 In 1979 TVA would defer construction of four nuclear reactors at three plants indefinitely, such a decision was sparked by a decline in power sales. The authority sold 118 million kilowatt hours of power in 1978, four million less than in 1977. 54 In short, this suggests the existence of an organizational issue that leadership was concerned with, but failed to attend to. Beyond this we may see an issue of poor practice by divisions within the TVA insofar as faulty data was produced, utilized, and even ignored as acceptable. 52 Hargrove 224 53 Ibid.54 Ibid.
Cowgill 21 In addition to divisional failure in predicting costs, which led to loss of popularity amongst valley constituency, there was a great irony amongst TVA power distributors, as they were keen on nuclear building and lambasted the high rates without admission that construction costs were at fault. Instead of blaming the nuclear program for increasing rates, they attacked conservation programs and Freeman himself. 55 In short, the Division of Power and its distributors were against conservation practices and actively sought to make the job of inspectors, quality assurance, and the board of directors more difficult. Hargrove is right to point out leadership as a factor here, but there are obviously others that need to be granted efficacy in understanding organizational failure, i.e. the Division of Power and TVA power distributors. In addition to the factors briefly touched upon here, I will point out in my data analysis the existence of safety issues, problems of accountability within the Office of Engineering Design and Construction, problems with Congress, issues of organizational structure, and various others that must be granted efficacy in historical and sociological analysis of the TVA as an organization that failed in its attempt to establish a nuclear power program. I have tried to show here that Hargrove clearly points out some of these but does not explore them thoroughly or grant them sufficient theoretical and historical efficacy insofar as he simply associates all factors to leadership and their being prisoners of myth. To continue I will examine another source on the nuclear power program. Hargroves primary contribution to understanding the nuclear power program is his historical account of the general failure, the narrative of leadership as prisoners of myth, 55 Hargrove 225
Cowgill 22 and his problematic pointing out of other factors without pursuing them thoroughly enough, whichis what this project will do. Danielle Droitsch and Doug Daigle provide us with an examination of the TVAs nuclear program that includes the failure and later actions to revive the program. The article, FDRs baby becomes a problem child: The TennesseeValley Authority redefines nuclear nightmare, written in 1994, explains that after sixty years the TVA, has become a semi-autonomous agency that appears only marginally accountable to the Congress and President of the United States. 56 This quote simply highlights that the TVA was historically and persists, even after the failure, to be an autonomous organization that has little accountability to government. The authors explain that the nuclear program accrued a debt of $25 billion by the time it failed and that during and after 1985 interest payments on debt constituted 36% of the TVA annual budget. 57 These facts simply point out the terrible financing issues within the TVA nuclear program. The article is focused primarily on the continuing efforts ofthe TVA to pursue restoring the failed program. However, it also points out interesting facts about the failure itself. For instance, the authors point out that Congress amended the TVA act in 1959 to allow the Division of Power to take charge of its own operation and finances. Thereafter the TVAs size and its promotion of electricity consumption grew exponentially. 58 In other words, congressional action enabled organizational autonomy that furthered emphasis upon, and bolstered autonomy for the Division of Power. Furthermore, the authors point out that problems really began in the 1970s during which electrical 56 Droitsch 15 57 Ibid.58 Ibid. 16
Cowgill 23 demands and rising costs of construction stalled the nuclear industry, not just the TVA. However, instead of acting like many others did, and seeking alternatives, the TVA still vigorously pursued nuclear power. I posit that ignoring such market signals contributed to failure. The authors also point out the issues of safety that will be brought to light and analyzed in my data analysis. They explain that in 1985, prior to a Watts Bar reactor coming online, workers alerted the NRC to hundreds of safety problems. 59 Furthermore, in 1985, the NRC commissioner called nuclear safety enforcement at the TVA the worst regulatory breakdown since Three Mile Island. 60 Here, we see the importance of safety issues and their relation to Three Mile Island as indicative of nuclear power as problematic. I intend to utilize primary documents to reveal that Three Mile Island impacted safety regulations and that TVA responded to increased regulation poorly. The safety issues were so severe at Watts Bar that, investigations by the NRC and Congress revealed structural defects throughout the entire plant. 61 Such findings led to an investigation into the TVAs entire nuclear power program, which revealed safety problems throughout the plants. 62 This actually led to the cessation of operation of all active reactors by the NRC. Finally, and perhaps most interestingly, the authors point out that even after the nuclear program failure the TVA still clung onto reviving the program in 1994. Dr. Edward Passerine, a professor at the University of Alabama, points out that, Theyve invested their entire professional backgrounds and positions at the agency in the nuclear program, andthat because of this, it is very difficult to admit youve made a 59 Droitsch 16 60 Ibid.61 Ibid.62 Ibid.
Cowgill 24 mistake in large bureaucracy. 63 Although, this commentary is in relation to actions in 1994, it is important to my analysis because it points out that the TVA, as I will argue, during the 1980s failed because of bureaucratic obstinacy and over investment in a failing program. Overall, this article is useful as it points out problems of accountability, autonomy, safety, and bureaucratic intransigence. I will now move into an examination of relevant organizational theory, as it will better explain why bureaucratic obstinacy is relevant. 63 Droitsch 17
Cowgill 25 Chapter 3: Organizational Theory Two sociological theoretical schools will be utilized in this examination of organizational failure. These include organizational theory and actor network theory. To begin we should examine the relevant conceptual tools of organizational theory starting with its first explicator, Max Weber. Max Weber was the first to put forth a description of the characteristics of bureaucracy, which after all is what the TVA is. Essentially bureaucracies segregate official activity as something distinct from the sphere of private life. 64 A bureaucracy is made up of hierarchy and graded authority within a firmly ordered system of super-and subordination in which there is a supervision of the lower offices by the higher ones. 65 This basic system allows for the possibility of appeal to higher offices, dictation by higher offices, and a strictly regulatory form of operation. Furthermore, officials must be appointed by an authority versus election in order to be a pure type of bureaucratic official. 66 TVA officials all matched thepure type as they were all internally selected, until the appointment of Admiral Steven White to head of the Nuclear Power Division after its collapse. 67 Thus, the concept of a pure type of official along with the ideal type of bureaucracy will be essential in my analysis of organizational failure. This ideal type of bureaucracy is basically the concept of a strict hierarchy, led by certain officers, serving a certain aim outside of which all action is irrelevant. It is the bureaucracy that offers above all the optimum possibility for carrying through the principle of specializing administrative functions according to purely objective 64 Weber 197 65 Ibid.66 Weber 200 67 Hargrove 226
Cowgill 26 considerations. 68 An ideal type bureaucracy will function perfectly and objectively, but as we know this is never the case and bureaucracies are constantly dealing with external factors that contribute to difficulty in operation and even possible failure. Bureaucracy also goes hand in hand with the concentration of the material means of management in the hands of the master. 69 In the case of the TVA, the master is the board of directors, subject to government oversight.In addition, the TVA was decentralized and made up of various divisions, each with its own leaders. Basically, the TVA is not an ideal type bureaucracy (as they never exist in reality), but we also cannot hold the TVA up to the Weberian ideal type because it does not fit the mold of bureaucracy that Weber could conceptualize. The ideal type does provide a point of comparison though. This is where actor network theory and more modern organizational theory will be of use. However, Weber does offer us the basic ideas of administrative control, bureaucratic intransigence, dehumanization, its permanent character, and bureaucracies rational character in establishing rules, means, and ends. The permanent character of bureaucracy arises from bureaucracy being the means of carrying community action over into rationally ordered societal action. 70 In other words, bureaucracy is an instrument of power for those in control of it; it is a tool for affecting societal change. In the case of the TVA this permanent character of change is seen in grand scale alteration of the landscape, agricultural practices, and the electrical power market. 68 Weber. 215 69 Ibid. 22170 Weber 228
Cowgill 27 Weber also offers us the important concept of charismatic authority, which Hargrove and I argue was essential to early TVA success. I suggest that David Lilienthal was basically a charismatic leader that functioned within his milieu and allowed for the TVAs early ability to represent itself infavorabletermsthrough rhetoric, images, and action. Weber argues that given bureaucracies permanent character in serving certain ends via certain means, it becomes everyday or an actor of normal routine. 71 As such, any demands that go beyond those of everyday routine has, in principle, an entirely heterogenous, namely, a charismatic foundation. 72 Basically a bureaucracy will be met with factors that do not fall in line with its strict structure of operation, it must then be flexible or rely on a charismatic leader that seizes the task that is adequate for him and demands obedience and afollowing by virtue of his mission.73 It is up to this leader to have her mission recognized by those necessary, she must prove herself, and those being addressed must recognize her as a charismatically qualified leader. In short, charisma rejects all rational economic conduct. 74 A charismatic leader is essentially an anomaly within a rational ideal type bureaucracy as they are the flexible actors that take on missions and make them work, which as I intend to show was David Lilienthals early role with regard to establishing the TVAs power program. Finally, of importance with regard to charismatic leadership is its unstable nature. A charismatic leader is dependent upon a constituency that recognizes her as legitimate and good. Weber explains that, 71 Weber 245 72 Ibid.73 Ibid. 24674 Ibid. 247
Cowgill 28 Thesubjects may extend a more active or passive recognition to the personal mission of the charismatic master. His power rests upon this purely factual recognition and springs from faithful devotion. It is devotion to the extraordinary and unheard-of, to what is strange to all rule and tradition and which therefore is viewed as divine. It is a devotion born of distress and enthusiasm. 75 In other, more secular wording, we can understand the following of a charismatic leader to be borne of necessity that sparks said following. This, I contend, is the case of the mythic character of electricity in the south and David Lilienthals crusade in successfully electrifying the valley. These are the basic conceptual tools that Weber has to offer us. I will utilize them in understanding the organizational structure and operation of the TVA along with examining the role of David Lilienthal early on and later leaders like David S. Freeman. I will now move into an examination of more modern organizational theory and theactor network. There is then the Neo-Weberian model of organizations, which essentially sought to give a more systematic and thorough account of bureaucracy than Weber. Of importance is that the Neo-Weberian school recognizes the difficulty of top down control more than Weber. Within networks of organizations, historically contingent states, and a decentralized means of operation, top-down control is not direct and effective at all times, there are complicating factors that should be recognized 76 Furthermore, the NeoWeberian model places an emphasis on the technology used to produce given outputs, as it will predict to structure. 77 In short, technology is given some efficacy as being integral to the structure of an organization, something that may be of importance in 75 Ibid. 24976 Perrow 172 77 Ibid.
Cowgill 29 understanding the role of uranium and reactor construction and operation within the program failure. To elaborate, Perrow references Administrative Behavior by Simonand Organizations by March and Simon. First and foremost Neo-Weberian theory attempts to reintegrate the individual as a central part of organizational theory. In other words NeoWeberian theory posits the logical position that studying organizations implies studying human behavior and therefore a conception of the individual actor is essential. NeoWeberian theory offers us two models of man; the first is a more narrow and restricted view of the individual that emphasizes rational choice. Perrow explains, When individual decision-making is under discussion, man is seen as ableto make rational computations and rational decisions once he has decided upon his goals. Two persons, given the same skills, the same objectives and values, the same knowledge and inclination, can rationally decide only upon the same course of action (Simon). 78 Within this first model the individual is essentially uninfluenced by any outside factor and only considers what is presented by the organization. Neo-Weberians who follow this model grant that group influence may play a role but that theseinfluences may be mapped out through research. Furthermore, social characteristics, such as age, sex, and status may influence decisions but may also be considered and satisfactorily employed by the researcher. Finally, this model posits that the individual internalizes organizational goals and seeks group affiliation, something that may be of use in understanding how and why individuals within the Division of Power and the Office of Engineering and Design Construction were intransigent to change. 78 Perrow 140
Cowgill 30 The second model of the individual is more complex. Perrow explains this model as one that posits that, The complexity of individual wants, desires, and values and the multitude of the influences on his decisions are ignored. Instead, this model makes simplifying assumptions about the individual, so that we can get on with studying the organization rather than the individual. It assumes that the individual is not all that rational and that his behavior, within limits, can be deliberately controlled.79 In short, this model grants the individual their desires and values as influences, unlike the former, but sets them aside to understand the individual as part of an organizational framework. More importantly, it does not base our understanding of the individual solely on rational choice, which allows for the influence of contingent states and nonorganizational factors to matter. However, this model grants the organization a deliberate and unintentional means of control over the individual via rules, regulations,and tacit practices, something that may be important to understanding the influence of TVA doctrine on actors within certain divisions. This second model posits that man is only intendedly rational, or that she attempts to be rational, however, she islimited by both individual capacities and the framework of the organization. 80 Such limits prevent anything near full rationality within the organization. In short, the individual can never make fully informed decisions, cannot weigh all the alternatives, and is subject to both unanticipated and unintended consequences. Within New-Weberian theory, the individual has his decisions made subject to the influences of the organizing group in which he participates, but she is not rational or ever fully determined. 81 79 Ibid. 14180 Perrow 141 81 Ibid. 142
Cowgill 31 This second model will be utilized because it presents us with a conception of the individual as both a tool for the ends of the organization and vice versa. The individual satisfies certain needs, like making a living, while the organization is satisfied to some extent by individual service. With regards to problem solving the individual satisfices instead of optimizes. That is, she selects the first satisfactory solution rather than searching for the optimum, an important concept when considering organizational failure because the satisfactory solution may not suffice in the long run and given lack of complete information failure is made likely. Within the second model the standards for satisfactory solutions are part of the definition of the situation at hand, as solutions are easier to find, the standards are raised; as they are harder to find, the standards fall. The organization can control these standards and it defines the situation; the individual is only involved to a limited extent. 82 Therefore, this model grants organizational variables, such the division of labor and communications chains a predominant role of control over individual behavior, but it does not entirely marginalize the individual. In short, the individual has some efficacy but by simplifying the efficacy of certain motives to the study being done we are able to equally weigh the organizational and individual behavior. In the Neo-Weberian model goals are set by leaders and then broken into subgoals at each level. Each lowerlevel is then a means to higher-level goals. Perrow points out that, People do not accept these goals because they necessarily share them or believe in them, in contrast to the cooperative model, but because the organization has mechanisms to insure thatworking toward them meets the individuals own personal 82 Perrow 143
Cowgill 32 values. 83 In other words, the individual in many ways is subject to organizational goals, such as pursuing nuclear power, but simultaneously the goals are in line with individual goals, which may include success within their division. With regards to organizational stability, routinization of activity through the establishment of programs and standard operating procedures, provides consistency. 84 This may be the case for TVA and is to be heavily considered, because the goals of the organization are closely tied to the top officials and past practices seem to have an impact in the nuclear power program failure. In addition goals remain stable because of such things as the high cost of innovative activity, sunk costs and sunk assets, such as capital investment that is not easily changed like that invested in nuclear reactors and other single purpose machinery. 85 Such theory is useful in understanding the intransigence of the TVA. In fact, Neo-Weberians purport that changes only occur when objectives are not met and they are difficult to follow through with because of costs and entrenched practices, which is what I will argue is the case with the TVA. For NeoWeberian only parts of the whole are ever adaptive at any given time. Another stabilizing factor is the budget, which stabilizes bargainings and expectations for a year or longer. 86 This will be of interest when discussing the relationship to congress and the ever-increasing debt ceiling granted for the nuclear power program. In addition, reference to precedent, usually in the form of rules, standard operating procedures, or 83 Ibid. 14484 Perrow 144 85 Ibid.86 Perrow 159
Cowgill 33 informal understandings and traditions, is another stabilizing factor, which is the case for the TVA Division of Power. 87 In addition individuals tend to see things with the vocabulary and schemes given by the organization and its leaders, something that may promote obstinacy and a limited view of the situation at hand. In fact, this model implies that to change individual behavior you have to change the premises of their decisions, as given by the organization, something that I will argue the TVA failed to do. 88 Organizations control the premises and the process of decision-making to an extent. Such premises can be changed with sanctions and rewards. According to Perrow, These premises are to be found in the vocabulary of the organization, the structure of communication, rules and regulations and standard programs, selection criteria for personnel, and so onin short, in the structural aspects. 89 Not to mention, because organizations pursue multiple goals simultaneously they will often conflict, for funds, ideals, operation procedures and so forth. Pursuing different goals in sequence, or simultaneously, even if theyare in shortrun conflict, can take place if the environment is benignposes few threats to the organization, has adequate resource etc.or if the organization has a lot of slack. Slack simply means an excess of resources (money, time, personnel, equipment, ideas.) When slack is high, several conflicting goals can be pursued if there are sufficient funds. 90 This will be directly tied to the TVA and its debt ceiling, which implicates congress in the nuclear power program failure. 87 Ibid. 15988 Ibid. 14789 Perrow 149 90 Ibid. 157
Cowgill 34 Moreover, the Neo-Weberians posit that solutions start to look for problems because goals set at the top lead to the subunitgenerating solutions that remind other members of the organization of particular sets of objectives they profess. 91 This is the garbage can model of organizations, which states that problems are basically receptacles for individuals to toss solutions into that happen to be of interest to them, or for interests that are not being met at the time. The can, with its problems, becomes an opportunity or resource. 92 Problems can then be detached from those who put them forth, may develop lives of their owns, or transform into other issues entirely. Such a conception of problems and solutions allows the researcher to separate the problem from the actor, which may be important for this analysis and the incorporation of technology as a factor because technology may have become a receptacle into which solutions were thrown but none were followed until to late. Finally, Perrow explains the institutional school of thought, which views organizations as organic entities, that emphasize the idea that organizations do develop an inner logic and direction of their own that is not the result of those who appear to control them. 93 This insight is of great importance to my project as the institutional school is the first to acknowledge and grant us the theoretical ability to treat organizations as beyond the control of leaders in some regard. This allows for the operationalization of Hargroves concept of myth and my insistence that organizational ideologies persist that influence practice, beyond the control of any leader within TVA. The institutional school was also the first to emphasize the environment within which 91 Ibid. 15892 Ibid.93 Ibid. 198
Cowgill 35 organizations exist. They view organizations as adaptive and dependent upon the environment. 94 This understanding of the environment is usefulbecause, as I will establish in the following history chapter, I will situate the TVA within two different historical milieus, that of the New Deal and the 1970s and 1980s. To examine the institutionalist school of thought we should first explain Hargroves concept of myth. Myth is a resource created by and drawn upon by leadership to clarify ambiguity and chart directions for the future. 95 Hargrove then explains that, myth are beliefs about the purposes of organization and the ways it should go about accomplishing them. Organizational myths are not falsehoods but aspirations of purpose and ideals for action. 96 Myth becomes reality insofar as they influence beliefs and actions in the organization and among its constituents. 97 It is crucial to note, a myth must be believed, and it is internalized in the organization and its workers. To quickly tie back into the literature review, Selznick posited that the belief that TVA could make important decisions by itself in operational areas without control from Washington was organizational myth. 98 The new-institutionalism is based upon the concept of decision making within constraints. Institutions, defined as webs of interrelated rules and norms that govern social relationships, comprise the formal and informal social constraints that shape the choice-set of actors. 99 Norms are established with the expected behavior outlined from following standard procedures, explicit or otherwise. Such a base is founded upon game 94 Perrow 198 95 Hargrove 5 96 Ibid. 697 Ibid.98 Ibid.99 Brinton and Nee 8
Cowgill 36 theory drawn from political science. In this case, the organization (TVA) is the institution and the existence of myth, in addition to the standard structural and regulatory bureaucratic practices, make up the constraints imposed upon all actors. With regards to organizations, new institutionalism, emphasizes context bound rationality. According to this interpretation, organizations conform to institutionalized myths to enhance their legitimacy and stability, and this promotes success and survival. 100 This position is essentially what Selznick, and Hargrove posit for TVAs grass-roots democracy and something I posit is integral to TVA being heroic during the New Deal era. Additionally, such myth is integral to nuclear program failure given its persistence and ties to operational practices and divisional intransigence to change. Hargrove posits the latter but ultimately still blames the leadership of 1970s and 1980s TVA, while I assert other factors were efficacious beyond top-down control. Additionally, because leaders usually construct organizational myth it is to be understood asexternal to the organization, as it is not within the normal web of operations. 101 In turn, myth is often contradictory or a complicating factor for the efficient execution of the organizations practical tasks, such as running a nuclear power program. 102 As mentioned, new institutionalism also emphasizes the organizational environment; which it is put forth, organizations usually rationally conform to environmental expectations and needs. However, doing so impedes change. This is to be the case for the TVA in the 1970s and 1980s in comparison to the TVA of the New Deal. With regards to individuals, informal norms are of importance. Such 100 Brinton and Nee 11 101 Ibid.102 Ibid.
Cowgill 37 norms are rules of a group or community that may or may not be explicitly stated and that rely on informal mechanisms of monitoring. 103 Such norms, sociological new institutionalists, claim are primarily interpersonal. However some argue that the sociologists have emphasized such interpersonal relations at the expense of examining the formal constraints of rules, regulations, the state, laws, and overall organizational network embeddedness. It is here that actor-network theory and neo-weberianism may fill in gaps with regards to understanding such structural constraints and the role of technology. However, the dynamic process of social interactions and their role in organizations will be of importance to examining TVA employee relations (whistle blowers) and general opposition to change or monitoring. Finally, of importance is the new-institutionalist linkage of macro-constraints and interpersonal relationships tie to group acceptance and informal constraints. Nee puts forth that hierarchically superior levels define structures of incentives and in turn set up goals for lower levels. 104 However, subordinate social units influence rules at the hierarchically superior level, and account for performance at that level. 105 That is to say that lower units or divisions establish their own norms (informal and formal) that help to constitute higher-level norms. Additionally, rules are determined by groups within the organization though a bargaining process, amongst divisions and leaders. 106 In short, both the organization and the individuals who constitute it constrain and influence each others actions. This is relevant to nuclear program failure insofar as action may have been constrained by myth, but individuals aided in its persistence and those who opposed 103 Brinton and Nee 19 104 Ibid. 32105 Ibid.106 Ibid.
Cowgill 38 standards were ostracized. Additionally, beyond the organization and the individual, any parameter shifts in the institutional environment can lead to new organizational forms. 107 I argue that such parameter shifts set by the historical context of the 1970s and 1980s left TVA in a difficult position to which it failed to adjust. This linkage of networks of associations and the creation and persistence of norms moves us into the final relevant theory, Actor-Network Theory. Actor-Network Theory (ANT) will be utilized as the theoretical frame by which to operationalize different historical milieus and the many factors within the nuclear program failure that will allow for a more thorough account of said failure. ANT is of importance because it will allow me to reveal the unraveling actor network surrounding the nuclear program failure, the importance of technology and TVAs inability to stabilize a risky technology into its actor network. In Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory Bruno Latour begins by attempting to redefine sociology and the concept of the social as a whole. Latour explains that social has been used to describe a homogenous entity in addition, to being invoked ad hoc to explain the aggregates acting behindcertain phenomena. One example of such ad hoc explanation is positing an ambiguous notion of social structure as the explanatory factor to phenomena. Latour asserts that it would be far more beneficial to understand the social as a trail of associations between heterogenous elements. 108 In short, there is nothing behind social assemblages. Instead active and continuing associations produce, maintain, or fail to produce or maintain a society. Such a move is tied to the etymology of the word sociology,derived from the 107 Ibid.108 Latour 5
Cowgill 39 Latin, socius meaning a follower or associates. 109 In short, society is not an object that exists to begin with; it is made by associations that are to be retraced by sociologists. Of importance to this project, is that if we understand the social as a fluid construction that is always being made, maintained, or failing to be made, we can employ ANT to describe the failure of TVAs nuclear power program as a failure to create the social, in part because risky technology could not be properly integrated into said actor network. Additionally, tracing associations implies tracing associations between humans and nonhumans too. Technology is social, or part of associations that create the social, because they are translations of our actions. Jim Johnson explains that a door closer (literally the mechanism that closes a door behind us) is a translation of the major actions that would constitute destroying and rebuilding a wall to get through it, and the minor actions of pushing a door and letting it close behind us. He states, I will define this transformation of a major effort into a minor one by the word translation or delegation ; I will say that we have delegated (or translated or displaced or shifted out) to the hinge the work of reversibly solving the hole-wall dilemma. 110 On the other hand, the door closer prescribes behavior upon actors. For instance, a very enthusiastic porter can be equated to a very springy door closer, which snaps shut quickly. This implies that the actor must move through it quickly or be left in pain. The behavior imposed back onto the human by nonhuman delegates prescription. 111 It is important to note here, that a human actor and non-human actor are doing the same thing. The two are on the same theoretical plane. The technology is always anthropomorphic 109 Ibid. 108110 Johnson 299 111 Ibid. 301
Cowgill 40 insofar as it is made by humans, substitutes for human actions, and prescribes back upon us. 112 The hinges, the door closer, a porter, and the door itself, amongst those who build it and so forth create an actor-network that translates action and gives technology efficacy. The failure of one actant entities that do things, within this chain leads to a failure of creating the social; it is the case of an unraveled actor network. 113 Johnson concludes that we must integrate humans and non-humans, the social and technological as one, in sociological analysis. If, in our societies, there are thousands of such lieutenants [that which stands in place of something/someone] to which we have delegated competences, it means that what defines our social relations is, for the most part, prescribed back to us by nonhumans. Knowledge, morality, craft, force, sociability are not properties of humans but of humans accompanied by their retinue of delegated characters. Since each of those delegates ties together part of our social world, it means that studying social relations without the nonhumans is impossible. 114 In short, proper accounts of the actor network include non-humans, and that is why analyzing the role of technology in nuclear program failure it so integral to understanding how the programs actor network unraveled and ended in failure. The goal of sociology then is to trace associations and to do so we must follow the actors themselves. 115 Latour posits an intensive method of description through primary documents, ethnography, and so forth that is never necessarily complete but is always a work attempting to describe in the most detail possible what relations and actions are occurring and what their consequences and meanings may be. The jumping off point for such studies is the controversies about what the universe is made of, or 112 Ibid. 303113 Johnson 303 114 Ibid. 310115 Latour. 12
Cowgill 41 what actors purport to be their universe and their understanding of it. 116 From there we connect controversies and construct an idea ofwhat the social is in a certain case.The sociologist must follow how groups form and fall apart. No single social aggregate is the incontrovertible starting point, we select an object of study and develop the social from there. 117 We do not apply a concept like social structure to a subject until the subject and its actor have effectively conveyed what the social is through the sociologists account. In short, we cannot start with one group and one theoretical approach or ad hoc explanatory concept in mind. We must instead allow the actors to tell us the story and then derive our concepts, something that I hope to do with my primary documents. I must explain how the TVA formed, what it was in two separate contexts, what the actors relevant to the nuclear program were doing, and how they understood the situation. Of importance to my study is the notion put forth by Latour that actants manifest during object breakdowns. He states that when accidents, breakdowns, and strikes occur: all of a sudden, completely silent intermediaries become full-blown mediators; even objects, which a minute before appeared fully automatic, autonomous, and devoid of human agents, are now made of crowds of frantically moving humans with heavy equipment. 118 To restate, when crises occur, formerly unapparent actors manifest as efficacious to action insofar as they can breakdown the social and cause human action in response. Latour gives us the example of the Columbia shuttle disaster to illustrate how objects, quicklyflip-flop their mode of existence. 119 In short, the breakdown of certain technologies, risky technology like nuclear reactors in particular, brings to life 116 Ibid. 21117 Ibid. 118 Ibid. 81119 Ibid.
Cowgill 42 other actors that may not have been present or obvious, including the technology itself. The objects enable explanation through their failure, which is the case here in my analysis of the TVA. The above emphasis on technology as a revelatory explanatory factor will be integral to my thesis. For ANT a network is a traced set of relations (translations), a network is atool to describe something120 In short, ANT places emphasis on description. When the social is an adjective that designates two entirely different phenomena: its at once a substance a kind of stuff, and also a movement between nonsocial elements, isit the job of sociology to trace this movement, these associations, and that is done through, to reference Geertz, thick description. 121 Hence a proper ANT account is drawn by description, not used to make description, it is essentially a method, and mostly a negative one at that; it says nothing about the shape of what is being described with it, it is simply describing, which is the method I will be employing. 122 Thus, the text becomes the sociologists functional equivalent of a laboratory, based on the tenet that, actors themselves make everything, including their own frames, their own theories, their own contexts, their own metaphysics, even their own ontologies,(remember actors may include inanimate objects). 123 All we are to do is describe these, that is the only proper means of conducting sociology. This is how I hope to employ ANT, I hope to describe and mobilize every relevant factor in the network of nuclear program failure, I hope to use primary documents to describe the actors views, 120 Latour 131121 Ibid. 159122 Ibid. 142123 Ibid.
Cowgill 43 their connections, their explanation, and from there determine what it was that caused the overall failure. Of utmost importance is the acknowledgment that Latours ANT is a radical sociological theory that in many ways could be used to undermine the validity of organizational theories I am employing. For instance, the employment of concepts like social structure or certain conceptions of the individual for Neo-Weberians, could be attacked as invalid and useless concepts by someone following ANT. However, both ANTand Neo-Weberian theory are to be used as theoretical tools and synthesized in this thesis. The two need not be mutually exclusive, both theories have limitations and both have benefits for this project. Thus, I intend to synthesize both within my analysis by utilizing theory as a toolbox and not a determining and limiting object for analysis.
Cowgill 44 Chapter 4: Historical Context The New Deal The New Deal presented an opportunity for the nation to recover from economic collapse and natural disasters,in part caused by poorfarming practices such as was the case of thedust bowl. It also presented progressives with a chance to establish a welfare state and government more directly involved in economic and personal affairs. The TVA arose out of the New Deal as a means to first and foremost, electrify the Southeast along with bringing farming innovation, altering the landscape for better use, and in the end improving the southern economy. However, in order to understand the TVAs relation to the New Deal and how it came to be a heroic organization, something that I aim to establish in this chapter, within the context of the New Deal and the great depression I will examine the history of the New Deal and early electrification generally. First, we must examine the importance, concrete and symbolic, of electricity in the 1920s-1930s. David Nye provides the example of Munice, Indiana, as an as an exemplar town of early electrification. He explains that, In 1931 Munice had 114 miles of electrically lighted streets and 859 miles of wire carrying current to its factories, stores, and homes. 124 Yet, in Munice, like most of the United States at this time, the urban center was electrified while most of rural America remained in the pre-electric era. 125 This was because most private utilities, such as the Indiana General Service co. that served Munice, saw little cost benefit in electrifying farms after World War I and the Great Depression, which served to create low prices on crops and implied little profitability from servicing farmers. However, the New Deal would change such 124 Nye 23 125 Ibid.
Cowgill 45 discrimination based on profit. In fact, under New Deal Pressure, the Indiana General Service co. built more lines into rural areas and reduced service rates, so that after April 1936 rural and urban customers paid the same. 126 However rural customers had to agree to consume the cost of 18 percent of utility investment for line construction for each year of the first five years of service, which still managed to keep many farmers out of service. In short, private utilities still found a means of discrimination against the less profitable market of rural America. These discriminatory practices gave rise to the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) in 1935 and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) in 1933. The creation of such organizations was Roosevelts answer to what he saw as a modernizing nation that needed to benefit economically from electrification. He stated, Cold figures do not measure the human importance of electric power in our present social order. Electricity is no longer a luxury, it is a definite necessity. 127 The REA primarily served to loan money to local cooperatives that served regions overseen by, but lacking infrastructure from private utilities. 128 Cooperatives were an early means for electrifying farms and some even loaned money for new technologies and appliances that ultimately improved life on the farm and even led to the beginning of a depopulation of farms because of easier means of production requiring less labor. 129 With regards to these early programs Nye states that, Rural electrification became a symbolic program to save farmers, which addresses both the concrete and symbolic impacts of electricity on 126 Nye 24 127 Ibid. 304128 Ibid. 25129 Ibid.
Cowgill 46 farmers, the economy, and the nation. 130 The concrete changes, such as improved quality of life, easier farming practices, and economic gains are constituative of electricity as a symbol of effectual and positive change in rural America. Roosevelt created the TVA in 1933 and REA in 1935 to stabilize farm prices, and reduce the number of farm bankruptcies by putting the government into competition with the electrical industry. 131 Ultimately the programs were a means of easing the trouble faced by farmers in the Great Depression. Of the two programs the TVA was by far more controversial. According to Nye TVA became a real possibility after, Roosevelt traveled to the Tennessee River Valley and became excited by the possibilities of creating a series of dams that would transform the economy of a region two-thirds the size of England through inexpensive power, flood control, and improved navigation, of water bodies. 132 However, as soon as the TVA act was signed in 1933 conservatives and private industry instantly attacked it as revolutionary, although there were precedents for it such as the Snake River that served as a miniature TVA for Idahos Minidoka and Cassia counties. The Coolidge administration had underwritten the Hoover Dam project on the Colorado River 133 The primary difference was that these projects did not sell the electricity they produced and were therefore not in direct competition with private enterprise. Utilities fought the sale of electricity but not the dams. However, progressives argued thatthe utilities should not benefit from dams they did notbuild. Newspapers took sides, editorializing: 130 Ibid. 304131 Nye 307 132 Ibid.133 Ibid. 308
Cowgill 47 Congress must decide soon whether American principles are to protect industry or the country is to be blighted with the New Deals brand of state socialismThe Theorists who have squandered millions on an unnecessary project are now attempting to move heaven and earth to get rid of a lot of power that nobody needs or wants. The program should be rejected by an overwhelming vote if private initiative is to be salvaged from the wreckage of impending socialism. 134 From the editorial, we can see that the New Deal and the TVA were attacked by conservative opposition as state socialism that marginalized the rights of private industry. In addition, it is posited that millions have been squandered on projects like the dams of the TVA, an attack that ignored the benefits, economic and otherwise, of electrifying the south and rural America. In short, the TVA arose in a contentious climate of change conducive to its services, insofar as electricity and its otherprograms were of benefit to farmers and supported by progressives, but also arose under scrutiny and criticism from conservatives that saw the New Deal and its projects, such as the TVA, as creeping socialism that robbed industry of its rights. Such conflict may have only aided in a heroic perception of TVA by those in the valley, as its quest for electricity was no simple task, but more of a battle for the benefit of farmers and the nation that supported it. Such opposition manifested formally in two Supreme Court cases, the Ashwander Case and Tennessee Power Company et. al v. TVA in 1939. The Ashwander case came about after the Northern District of Alabama Federal Court declared the TVA unconstitutional under the premise that the federal government did not have the right or authority to produce, transmit, and market electricity. In short, it sided with private utilities by declaring that the TVA had to sell its power at the site of generation. 135 This decision was later reversed by the U.S. court of appealsand upheld by the Supreme 134 Nye 308-309 135 Ibid. 310
Cowgill 48 Court. Tennessee Power Company et. al. v. TVA, was decided in 1939, the Supreme court ruled that the private utilities had no legal standing to question the TVA power program or the constitutionality of the law that established the agency. 136 Therefore, the Supreme Court sided with progressives and supported the constitutionality of the controversial program of producing and selling public power. Such rulings were a major victory for the TVA, progressives, and New Dealers. It is important to note that although contentious, the TVA was ultimately a legal victor, something that furthered the mystique and vitality of the TVA, such controversy was formative of the TVA as a heroic organization for those whom it was aiding in the valley. Furthermore, David Nye points out that the visual representation of the TVA reflected its symbolic heroic quality and its status as a savior to farmers and workers during the depression. Nye states, Indeed, because of the scarcity and insecurity of jobs, a standard theme of New Deal photography was the heroic worker. Images emphasized the massive scale of new technologies and stressed that men were being put back to 136 Ibid.
Cowgill 49 work. 137 The following photo is an example: The images have common themes of workers in motion, massive dams and mines are often the backdrop, and there always appears to be determination, a feeling that something is getting done, and that this something is positive. Such images, produced by TVA, David Lilienthal (For Democracy on the March) ,and New Deal supporters for valley constituents, suggest the vast scale of the TVA project, concern for individual welfare, and the new industrial opportunities the New Deal brought to farmers. 138 Given the 15-25 percent unemployment of the depression era, the REA and TVA images of workers transforming the earth for the benefit of local people, blue-collar workers, and the nation at large, had a powerful public appeal. 137 Nye 314 138 Nye 314
Cowgill 50 Moreover, the benefits to farmers were immediately tangible, and further contributed toa positive reception and view of TVA. Benefits included, electrified water pumps, electric milling, refrigerators, washing machines, more showers, heavy labor was made easier, and electricity allowed for longer days. 139 In short, the quality of life and of work was drastically improved with the coming of electricity and the aid of the REA and TVA. Farmers were not the only beneficiaries. Cooperatives and, ironically, even utilities benefited from TVA via the use of their cheap power. Nye explains that TVA policy was to transfer transmission facilities to rural cooperative control whenever possible, an example that can be tied to the past discussion of Grass Roots Democracy. 140 One example of the benefits accrued from the TVA is the Alcorn County Electric Power Association in Northern Mississippi which began to operate with equipment transferred to it by the TVA [in 1934]. A year later it had expanded the area it served, cut rates by up to 50 percent, paid taxes, and made a profit. 141 The industrialized farm madefarming more profitable and productive. In addition, the electric lines themselves became a tangible link to a larger world, integrating farmers into the consumer society more than before. 142 In other words, valley farmers were finally joining the modernized and industrialized United States. Given such tangible benefits to a formerly marginalized population during a time of depression, it is easy to see that the TVA was able to take on a heroic character for valley citizens. Not to mention, such a role would ultimately allow for a friendly atmosphere in which to operate and, as is the case with the Division of Power, do as they pleased. 139 Nye 320 140 Ibid. 309141 Ibid.142 Ibid. 329
Cowgill 51 Finally, the New Dealers and many in the valley also viewed electricity itself as a symbol of progress, modernity, and asa source for optimism toward the future. Nye describes the symbolism of electricity expressed in a popular Great Depression era poem (appended at the end of this chapter). He explains that, the meaning of electricity was clearly far more than a new washing machine or better light in the barn. Rather, the hum of the wires is the faint cry of generations. 143 Electricity is literarily turned into a new, efficient, and effective worker, a natural force that comes out of the strength of the earth and roaringwater.144 The transmission wires provide a literal electrical connection, but also hum with the song of heartstrings and offer a handclasp with all the world. 145 In other words, electricity is a magical antidote to the ills of the great depression, and the doctors administering this antidote, the REA and TVA seemed to fulfill the democratic promise of equality and to demonstrate human progress. 146 Thus, the wires were a connection to the modernized nation, a symbol of getting back to work; the wires are the uniting force of democracy. The symbolic nature of electricity as a potent healer or simply a powerful form of energy capable of human benefit, medical and otherwise, can be traced back as far the 1740s. Carolym Thomas De la Pea helps elucidate the symbolic efficacy attached to electricity in her work, The Body Electric. De la Pea provides us with the example of Congressman in 1887, who, according to the Electric Review, had found a new means of curing their exhaustion. This newfound vitality came from, retiring to the basement to be filled quietly with electricity; a device had been set up in the engine room of the 143 Nye 326 144 Ibid.145 Ibid.146 Ibid.
Cowgill 52 capitol building that provided a direct connection to the power behind the buildings lights, heat, and machines. 147 Such a belief in a jolt of energy through electricity is an example of the late-nineteenth century vogue of electric-energy devices.148 Such practices began as early as 1740 with the use of the Leyden Jar to cure patients of muscle weakness, neuralgia, ulcers, and skin adhesion, via receiving a spark from a device to a particular portion of the body. 149 One historian has called the use of electricity for health and pleasure reasons as part of a modern electric theology, tied to the electrified urban landscape, as the belief that electricity was a spiritual triumph of mysterious power with unlimited potential. 150 In other words, electricity had taken on a mythic other worldly character. It was not well understood, but was believed to have useful applications beyond powering lights or machinery. Bodies literally imbibed electricity, electric cocktails, cocktails touched with a heated rod, supposedly energized the body. 151 A popular item that emerged with electricity was the electric belt that was supposed to provide people withmore physical prowess, control over their body, and increased energy. Even in the depression era (1920s-1940s), the I-ON-A-CO [was a popular] device that reportedly cured disease by electrically magnetizing the bodys iron. 152 In short, we can see that electricity was a pop culture icon; it came to represent bodily vigor, energy, and even sexual vitality along with masculine or feminine prowess. It is thus easy to understand that electricity, which the TVA provided, was a potent symbol that could be conflated with the wider project of the TVA. Both the TVAs role 147 De la Pea 89 148 Ibid.149 De la Pea 90 150 Ibid. 105-106151 Ibid. 108152 Ibid. 128
Cowgill 53 in the great depression and the overall mystique of electricity provided the TVA with a receptive audience for its projects, something that would provide for a certain form of organization within TVA and certain practices that would become obstinate. However, such a comfortable socio-historical context would not be present during the failure of the nuclear power program. In short, the historical context is an important factor in understanding the failure, something that Hargrove seems to marginalize. The 1970s-1980s The 1970s and 1980s were a diametrically different time for the Nation, the South, and in turn the TVA. There had been much change and innovation within TVA as an organization and with regards to the technology it utilized as a means of producing power. Rates increased in conjunction with various changes in the general political and social climate, that included new restrictions on coal fired power plants by the EPA the rising cost of uranium, the construction of nuclear power plants as an alternative source of energy, the search for other alternative sources, an oil crisis, the beginning of safety issues, and of course the nuclear industry consequences of Three-Mile Island. Overall, TVA was in a vastly different economic, political, and social context, organizations may sometimes operate in what appears to be a bureaucratic vacuum, but they are always tied to context. With all this in mind TVA no longer had the quest of bringing electricity to the south and revamping a failing economy, its mission had to be redefined, the overall mystique of the organization and its goals were gone. In short, the TVA had to find new missions and redefine what would be organizational success; this contextual difference is a factor in constituent views of TVA, TVA operations, and the overall failure of the nuclear power program. The factors of rates, cost of uranium, and general nuclear
Cowgill 54 industry issues will be discussed at length in the following chapter using primary documents, here Three Mile Island and the Oil Crisis will be discussed as historical factors relevant to TVA and nuclear power program failure. Three Mile Island (TMI) fundamentally changed the public view of nuclear power and simultaneously ledto far greater oversight and restrictions on nuclear plant operation. Lonna M. Malmsheimer, describes the experience as a dramatic encounter with the machine in the garden, or a confrontation with the possible destruction of the natural by mans own doing. 153 Since the incident TMI has become both an anti-nuclear movement rallying point and popular tourist destination. The article by Malmsheimer is a study concerned with how people came to frame and create meaning out of the shared experience of TMI. 154 Thisshared experience created an understanding of a historical occurrence with tangible consequences for organizations like TVA. Responses to crises like TMI are not responses just to the events of disaster but to what those events mean and represent to them (people/study participants) within their interpretive schemes. 155 When TMI first occurred one of the initial decisions was to recommend the evacuation of pregnant women and children and the voluntary evacuation of thousands of other area residents, sucha recommendation was interpreted as the first sign of a severe and dangerous issue. 156 Such a response is pure logical reasoning, however, as Malmsheimer shows, because of the lack of clear information and the conflicting stories being espoused many people relied on their interpretive schemes to understand the situation. These schemes included references to Star Trek The China 153 Malmsheimer 35 154 Ibid. 36155 Ibid. 36156 Ibid. 35
Cowgill 55 Syndrome and the dropping of the bomb over Hiroshima in order to understand the danger present. Malsheimer utilized four hundred interviews conducted in Carlisle, Pennsylvania (20 miles from TMI) during the 6 months after the event to describe cognitive interpretations of the event, and the cognitive interpenetration of two social worlds, the one imaginative, the other actual. 157 The worlds being referred to are the world of actual interaction, or the actual physical experience of TMI, and the virtual world of others presented to us in movies, music, and media. The first actual reaction was to evacuate if nearby, and then to decide whether or not to evacuate when at least twenty miles away (i.e. Carlislie). People kept gas tanks full and their cars packed with essentials and valuables. In addition, a new discourse of the emergency emerged, discussing cooling towers, containment building, milirems, hydrogen bubble, reactor etc. that were not common vocabularyuntil the occurrence of TMI. 158 The creation and enactment of such a discourse is a concrete example of how TMI altered social interaction. This alteration of the social aided in creating TMI as a new prototype for future experience with Nuclear Power, or a reference point for understanding with regard to a technology that had not asserted itself upon the public in such a blatant way. 159 Malmsheimer states that this is the case because of four factors, First, Three Mile Island was unprecedented, a marginal situation par excellence which engaged people in an active process of interpretation; it challenged common assumptions and understandings. Second, Three Mile Island was a nuclear emergency and the technology itself is uncanny to those who hold the common materialist assumptions of day-to-day life in America. Third, Three Mile Island was a demonstration of the ambiguities and uncertainties in social relationships in modern America, for Three Mile Island challenged directly the taken-for-granted relationships of managers to operators; or managers to 157 Malmsheimer 36-37 158 Ibid. 38159 Ibid. 49
Cowgill 56 government regulators; or utility companies to the communities that surround the plant; of federal, state and local officials to each other and to the private utility; and of the press to their readers and viewers.Finally, Three Mile Island, at many different levels, was a widely shared, mass-mediated, artificial social experience, even for those within the immediate area of theplant.160 Perhaps it may be construed as an unfair stretch, but for the purposes of this project, what Malmsheimer is arguing is integral insofar as it is an example of how people reacted and came to understand a technology and emergency that had never really occurred prior. TMI changed perceptions of electricity from an almost magical object to a fearsome one because of the technology tied to its production. It is important to realize that, as shown by the dramatic reaction to it, TMI was a landmark event in the 1970s. Furthermore, it is interesting to note that the TVA had a fire at Browns Ferry and many safety issues prior to TMI, but that none received as much national attention and did not lead to drastic consequences like TMI. For the purposes of this project TMI is to be understood as a concrete occurrence that bolstered the understanding of nuclear power as a riskier technology, influenced perceptions of power production, and the incident itself, as an event with concrete regulatory consequences for the industry. This is because as one participant explained, the threat came from man, it was something we put there. 161 TMI have had such a major impact because it was one of the first indications of our ability to potentially destroy ourselves through themishandling of a technology that was viewed as beneficial for energy and in many ways progress beyond the days of coal. It is great that TMI did not end poorly, although, since the event the growing consensus has been that TMI was more dangerous than officials or the media led 160 Ibid. 49-50161 Malmsheimer 49
Cowgill 57 us to believe. 162 Either way, the event led to a dramatic increase in the costliness of running a safe plant due to increased regulations and technological changes that will be analyzed using primary documents in the following chapter. The consequences of such regulations are not to be underestimated, Malmsheimer posits, Safety concerns, or at least the costliness of safe plants, have slowed, perhaps even brought to an end, the construction of new plants. 163 TVA did not cease construction, although it was plagued by barriers established by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission after TMI, barriers that perhaps should have been signs of the waning viability of the technology, barriers that ultimately contributed to failure. The risk of nuclear power and regulatory barriers were brought to light by the consequences of TMI. Perhaps TVA, on the organizational level, is guilty of what Malmsheimer characterizes as two general tendencies in the U.S.: to regard social costs as routine, unmeasurable or unimportant and to see technological failures not as stemming from the complexity of the system in question, but as a result of the fallibility of the human beings tending those systems, hence TVAs unyielding pursuit of nuclear power as a primary means of energy production.164 Aside from TMI, the other landmark event of the 1970s-1980s was the 1973-1974 oil crisis that had lasting repercussions on the energy market and the public perception of energy production in the U.S. The oil crisis began in October 9,1973 when Arab members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) placed an embargo on U.S. oil shipments because of U.S. and European foreign policy. 165 The embargo lasted only until March 1974 but prices remained high throughout the1970s and 162 Ibid.163 Malmsheimer 50 164 Ibid.165 Merrill vii
Cowgill 58 the early years of the 1980s. The initial crisis also led to daunting gas lines, huge heating bills, lower speed limits, extended daylight savings, and panic buying, because the price per barrel doubled, tripled, and then quadrupled within only a year. The oil crisis is important to TVA insofar as it had consequences on environmental policy relevant to energy production, was revelatory of a changing geo-political situation in which Arab nations proved they were a force to be reckoned with, and that U.S. political and economic might may be tied to energy to a degree that merited concern, something which implicated our national energy producers like TVA. With regards to environmental issues, it had been Since the late 1960s, that Americans had grown increasingly concerned about the environmental risks posed by their reliance on oil, in terms of oil spills at sea, the risks associated with the production and use of petrochemicals, and air quality. By 1973, Congress had passed several environmental laws, but the oil crisis nonetheless served as evidence for environmentalists that the United States needed to dramatically change course and enact policies that would encourage, even force, Americans to conserve oil and explore other sources of energy. 166 In fact, one of the original reasons that TVA began its quest for nuclear power production in the 1960s stemmed from the search for alternatives to coal fired plants, in part from environmental concerns. However, environmentalists were not necessarily amicable to nuclear power. Either way, the concerns of environmentalists, along with the oil crisis, did lead to environmental legislation, such as the Clean Air Act that had tangible consequences for TVA that will be elaborated upon both here and in the following chapter. First, however, we should quickly review the role of oil within the U.S. to understand how a crisis tied to it can mark a time period. 166 Ibid. 2
Cowgill 59 The importance of oil started in 1859 when oil was first discovered in the U.S. at Titusville, Pennsylvania. This discovery eventually led to the replacement of kerosene with petroleum, the formation of the Standard Oil Company, and its dissolution as a monopoly under the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890. Such early interest went on to lead to a general global search and need for oil that involved various actors like Royal Dutch Shell and various offshoots of the dissolved Standard Oil. 167 The Middle East became relevant to U.S. oil interest in 1938 when Caltex (Texaco and Standard Oil of California) drilled the first successful well in Saudi Arabia. Other U.S. companies were searching for Oil in Iran in order to compete with the British who were already present. This searching and discovering of oil reserves was occurring within the same time frame of Mexican nationalization of its oil industry, something that U.S. and British industry greatly feared could spread to other oil rich countries involved in business with them. Such fears came to fruition when the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC/A British oil company) refused to increase the Iranian governments share of its oil profits. Additionally, oil was the countries primary bankable resource; not to mention British control over Iranian oil angered citizens, thus, the opposition leader Mohammed Mossadegh began to call for nationalization of the Industry.168 In April 1951 Mossadegh took power and nationalized the oil industry. In 1953 the U.S. and Britain staged a coup detat, indicative of the role of oil with regards to foreign relations that would follow, which got the AIOC back into Iran. 169 Given such gross action over oil and the general tensions surrounding oil in the Middle East (Egypt/Iran/ Israel etc.) in 1960, OPEC 167 Merrill 4-7 168 Ibid. 11169 Merrill 11
Cowgill 60 formed to regulate oil production in order to avoid pumping out to much oil and therefore causing the price to drop. 170 In other words, OPEC formed as a means to react to and regulate the political and economic interests of oil rich nations in the Middle East from powerful nations with a profound interest in those reserves. The environmental side of the oil question can be seen as starting after World War II given that consumption of oil rose in the domestic sphere, leading some to grow conscious of the general environmental consequences of such consumption. Environmental historians sometimes label these quality of life issues: as many Americans experienced an increasing standard of living after the war, in no small measure due to the cheap price of gasoline, they turned their attention to the rising environmental costs of modern life. 171 For instance, the creation of the suburbs started movements advocating the protection of open space, people grew more conscious of the pollution caused by industry and its increasing use of petroleum, not to mention, Rachel Carson published Silent Spring in 1962 a book that made environmental concerns a popular issue. Oil also captivated the nation in 1969 when a Santa Barbara Oil Spill led to news and images that galvanized the nation on the role of oil. 172 Such occurrences led to wide environmental concern, attacks on industrial pollution, and movements to generate governmental policy to address environmental issues. All of which, reached a peak in the early 1970s. These years saw a wealth of activism and publication around environmental issues ranging from concerns over world population growth to the future supply of material resources. 173 This coincides with the TVA researching environmentally friendly alternatives to coal fired 170 Ibid. 14171 Ibid. 16172 Ibid.173 Merrill18
Cowgill 61 plants, a strong emphasis on nuclear power within the organization, the beginning of a large amount of construction of nuclear power plants, and organizational adaptation to new environmental legislation. It was in 1970 that president Nixon, Signed the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), arguably one of the most far-reaching acts in the last third of the twentieth century for the way that it placed the government directly in charge of evaluating and trying to stave off the environmental costs of economic activity. Along with Clean Air Act of 1970 and the Clear Water Act of 1972, NEPA changed the landscape of American politics, forcing politicians both to take a stand on environmental controversies and to integrate their position into their broader ideological stances. 174 Simultaneously, such legislation led to the need within TVA to comply with the requirements of cleaner coal fired plants, the use of scrubbers on smokestacks, and regulation of effluent release and so forth. All positive regulation for the environment, but in many ways difficult for the TVA given the dominant role of coal fired plants at the time. Given that TVA was beginning its nuclear power program and constructing facilities at this time, it is understandable that TVA pursued nuclear power with an obstinate vigor that played a role in ignoring signs of failure. In addition, in 1975, Congress passed the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, which established for the first time fuel efficiency standards for automobilesThe Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAF) Standards, another example of growing concern and ultimately regulation over oil. 175 In short the crisis, and the geo-political situation that led up to and followed it led to the beginning of oil conservation that certainly effected the TVA, put it on a route to nuclear obsession, and ultimately contributed to itsfailure. 174 Ibid.175 Ibid. 23
Cowgill 62 Karen R. Merrill shows us the difficulty of the crisis for industry and consumers alike, using a December 31, 1973 Time Magazine cover, that exclaimed that the crisis had brought about: THE BIG CAR: End of the Affair. The cover displays a car crying to emphasize both the sadness and difficulty of the transition within industry and amongst consumers to a more highly regulated oil economy.176 In addition, Jimmy Carters, The Energy Problem: Address to the Nation of April18, 1977 provides examples of how important conservation and regulation had become. In fact Carters speech was viewed by many as perhaps overly pessimistic. Carter stated, The energy crisis has not yet overwhelmed us, but it will if we do not act quickly. Its a problem that we will not be able to solve in the next few years, and its likely to get progressively worse through the rest of this century. 177 The grave tone and pessimism come through even more as Carter explains that, The oil and natural gas that we rely on for 75 percent of our energy are simply running out. In spite of increased effort, domestic production has been dropping steadily at about 6 percent a year. Imports have doubled in the last 5 years. Our Nations economic and political independence is becoming increasingly vulnerable. Unless profound changes are made to lower oil consumption, we now believe that early in the 1980s the world will be demanding more oil than it can produce. 178 Carter then went on to put forth ten principles of change to cope with an energy crisis, the 7 th was general conservation, and the tenth was that we must start now to develop the new, unconventional sources of energy that we will rely on in the next century 179 The TVA was at this time a giant in energy production, and a government organization that was forced to be concerned with the future of energy, and researching alternatives. 176 Merrill106-107 177 Ibid.125178 Ibid.179 Merrill 127
Cowgill 63 In short, TMI and the Oil Crisis were part of an entirely different historical context, a context that is relevant to the failure of the nuclear power program. TMI provided the nation with a new scheme and understanding of nuclear power, for some this understanding was very negative. In addition, TMI led to concrete regulatory change within the industry that subjected TVA to increased spending and even noncompliance with regards to an already questionable program that was leaking money out of every reactor. Such regulation was even a contributing factor to rate increases. As mentioned earlier, rates, the rising costs of uranium, and nuclear industry conflict are all factors tied to TMI, and will be discussed utilizing primary documents in the next chapter. On the other hand, the oil crisis was a contributor to a growing environmental movement that helped with the enactment of legislation that subjected TVA to spending on compliance and further research into alternatives, including an emphasis on nuclear power. In addition, given the rhetoric of conservation and energy independence through new sources of energy, we can understand the oil crisis as a relevant factor in the TVAs foolhardy pursuit of nuclear power. Thus, the historical context of the New Deal was highly conducive to a heroic TVA, while the historical context of nuclear power program construction and failure were essentially the opposite. TVA was forced to find new goals and new means of energy production. It focused so heavily on nuclear technology because it began investment in the early 1960s and other alternatives did not appear as economically viable or were not sufficiently developed for large-scale use. Now, we must move on to the primary documents to construct a narrative of failure.
Cowgill 64 Chapter 5: A Narrative of Failure: TVA and Nuclear Power The TVA of the late 1970s and 1980s was an entirely different organization than it had been at its inception. It was an organization with an identity crisis. It was no longer the heroic organization of the New Deal that electrified the South and improved the economy. Instead the TVA was a massive bureaucracywith a power program focused on nuclear poweras a means of providing electricity. The nuclear power program became both a means and an end in itself; it was a means to producing power and maintaining relevance simultaneously. However, the attempt to succeed at both ends was a failure, the reasons for which will be discussed in the following historical narrative. As has been mentioned previously,Erwin C. Hargrove provides a historical narrative of the failure of the nuclear power program, but does so by focusing on the leadership and the persistenceof organizational myth that prevented effective action by said leadership. Although I agree with Hargroves analysis, I intend to show here that the narrative is far more complex, and that a full understanding of the failure should incorporate other actants including the nuclear reactor technology itself, the role of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the nuclear industry and market at large, the after effects of Three-Mile Island on the industry, and the structure of the organization. This account will essentially be a work of thick description that describesan actor network that displays the relevant actors, their roles, and their efficacy in the failure. First, I will reiterate the concept of myth and explain its relevance to the failure. Basically theconcept of organizational myth is the idea that early doctrine and practice became reified within the organization, such as the doctrine of grass-roots democracy
Cowgill 65 discussed earlier, and the mythic nature of electricity itself. It is understandable that the leadership would have been subject to organizational myth that led to organizational intransigence, manifest in failure to address safety issues and comply with NRC regulations. Such myth also led to the continued attempts to revive and maintain a programthat was literally bleeding money in a time where a constituency being provided for was unhappy. I certainly agree with Hargroves notion of myth and the idea that the board of directors had become prisoners of myth, however the key here is that their inability to promote effective change to rescue the nuclear power program should not be seen as incompetence nor as a result of the somewhat abstract notion of myth; instead, myth should be considered a factor within a network of associated factors related to the overall failure. It is like new-institutionalists posit, leaderships creation of the nuclear power program as a mythic pursuit is a complicating factor in the execution of that very end. The TVA of the New Deal had been set up to be a multifacetedorganization that addressed issues of farming, fertilization, water quality, even intentional communities for a period, and of course electricity amongst other things. However, as has been shown the organization essentially was set up in such a way that the Division of Power was of paramount importance and was the primary source of revenue. This in turn led to its relative independence within the organization. It was the only division that maintained its independence outside of the doctrine of grass roots democracy and the decentralized practice of working with the regional constituency. The division of power instead started out doing what it pleased, such as when, in some areas the new dams forced whole communities to move, and their literally disappearedunder water, even when opposition
Cowgill 66 to such dams was present. 180 This in part illustrates the purely rhetorical aspects of grassroots democracy as myth. Division of Power independence is directly tied to the relative independence of the Office of Engineering and Design Construction (OEDC), which was TVAs internal construction and technology group. Hargrove points out that, OEDC had always worked internally, changed construction plans on the fly, and repaired its own faults. 181 In other words, OEDC was fairly autonomous and always sought to defend itself from external criticism, Hargrove, posits that this character developed with construction of coal-fired plants early on, and I belief the persistence of such a character led to the continued safety issues and poor construction practices of the nuclear power program. Such persistence can be understood as the work of individuals within the divisions seeking group affiliation as in the Neo-Weberian and New-Institutionalist models, in addition to the need to maintain stability given sunk costs and entrenched practices in construction projects, as Neo-Weberians purport. Divisional Resistanceand Organizational StructureThe importance of such independence is integral to understanding the failure and gives us a more concrete ground upon which to lay the intransigent nature of the organizational structure. Not only were OEDC and the Division of Power constantly getting their way, they had sway over the board of directors because of their usefulnessin producing revenue, and past successes. These two divisions were made up of older workers who would not deviate from past practices and when quality assurance and review committees were brought in, from within and outside TVA, they were met with 180 Hargrove 310 181 Ibid.
Cowgill 67 great resistance and intentional deception. 182 Furthermore, the accountability structure was inconsistent. In fact, many internal and external reviews of TVA pointed out organizational flaws that led to issues of accountability, issues of ineffective bureaucratic operation, and issues of structure that led to problems. Many documents point to the fact that organizational change regarding accountability to the board, and NRC, was suggested over and over. It is certain that the past structure was intransigent to some degreebecause ofthe resistance of these sections to change, but for the organization to be warned over and over and fail to act points to not only intransigence tied to defending divisional autonomy but also to organizational structure creating a situation of bounded rationality. The Divisions of Power and OEDC were subject to divisional embeddedness and subject to past operational practices that led to a situation in which only certain means could be utilized. To begin, an article from The Energy Daily reveals various factors to be explained here and throughout this analysis. The March 5, 1982 article is titled Nuclear Plants Die, addressing the deferral of 3 reactors, two at Yellow Creek, Mississippi, and one at Hartsville, Tennessee. The deferrals came from a decision initiated by David and Richard Freeman, who cited that these three units are now estimated to cost eight times as much to build as originally estimated. Such reasons point out poor organizational prediction of construction costs. Furthermore, they are not even sure that the estimates wont escalate further sine we have yet to complete any of our nuclear units. Infact, those that are completed are in a state of disarray because they need changes to conform with post182 Hargrove 312
Cowgill 68 Three Mile Island safety requirements. Three mile island was thus directly a problem for TVA. Moreover, $2 billion was already invested into these now deferred projects, a major loss to TVA, and a major loss to workers, 5,000 of whom became unemployed. 183 Finally, Richard Freeman also points out that TVA had a surplus of power that it could not sell, thus the risks involved with pursuing nuclear reactor construction literally were unnecessary from the standpoint of meeting demand. However, given the notions of neoweberian sunk costs, and the program as new TVA myth, the pursuit is understandable. Thus, the program was still pursued until its overall failure in 1985. This article points out various actants in failure that are elaborated upon throughout this chapter. It is thus not surprising that the organization was in a structural and operational quagmire with regards to the nuclear power program. One external critic and former TVA employee stated that TVA needs an Inspector General like Iran needs another Ayatollah Khomeini, a fairlyloaded statement that implies more management and bureaucracy is not the solution. The former manager states, that the leaving of 5 or 6 of your managers in the past few years is not a cause of your current problems. Instead, the decision made by those managers or lack of decision contributed to nuclear power program problems. In addition, even with quality assurance, you have little or no valid quality control, configuration control or failure analysis. Finally, the former manager states that the management scheme is one of assigned blame and making excuses instead of assigned responsibility and accountability. The critic states that TVA simply has toomany people needed for the job, no valid form of quality control, and poor management practices. In short, this manager left because, I found it impossible to work for TVAs nuclear 183 The Energy Daily, Nuclear Plants Die, March 5, 1982
Cowgill 69 division and maintain any personal integrity or professional ethics. 184 These statements are all very blunt, but given that the person left of their own volition his critique may be valid. What is of importance is that the critic points out valid actants including management failure, the weakness of quality assurance, and an overloaded bureaucracy. All of which may be tied into the Neo-Weberian notion that pursuing multiple goals within divisions and the organization at large can lead to conflict, especially when there is slack, e.g. to many managers, creating the inability to actually accomplish a goal. As a note it is interesting to know that TVA did not have an actual quality assurance program until 1982, when it was first petitioned for as a group to address management policies, goals, and administrative control systems, along with basic regulatory requirements. 185 Another document points out and perhaps sums up the organizational failure to properly address issues. Arthur H. Allen of the Employee Relations and Development Branch, states that the problems of the nuclear power program are based on a dichotomy between concerns into nuclear safety related and non-nuclear safety related. For instance, if welds are substandard or documentation is lacking, nuclear safety is affected. If management practices are bad, nuclear safety is not affected. However, Allen posits that every concern should be understood as nuclear safety related. The way management treats people (management practices) affects the quality of welds and documentation! The document is even prophetic as it states, continued disregard for the underlying human resource issues in our problems will ensure our nonsurvival! Allen 184 Letter to Board of Directors from J.P. Butler, PE, Former Manager, December 30, 1985 185 Organization of A Corporate Quality Assurance Organization In The Office of the General Manager, To: Board of Directors, From: W.F. Willis, General Manager, April 20, 1982
Cowgill 70 then goes on to state that there are behavioral science techniques that need to be employed to surface problems and address them effectively. 186 In short, the document points out organizational and operational issues that tie safety and management together. It also points out the failure of properly addressing issues and the need for TVA to open up to alternatives. Such problems are factors in program failure, especially indicative given that this document was written in 1985, thus problems obviously persisted right up to failure. It seems as though the garbage can model of problems can be applied here insofar as the program became a garbage can for solutions but none took root and solved the issue. Additionally, the bureaucratic structure appears to be overly rationalized, broken into so many management chains that affective rule was difficult; this notion is classic Weberian organizational theory. Another exchange between Allen and the Board further elaborates upon the problems Allen was trying to address and what solutions he was offering. Allen makes a statement that lines up perfectly with my idea that TVA could not function properly in the 1970s and 1980s given its organizational structure was established and reified in the New Deal era.Allen states, One reason TVA is struggling is that our leadership and our systems were developed to fit the past and have not yet begun to use processes and tools that fit with the complexity and value shifts that are occurring. Here Allen is referring to the past systems developed for operating coal fired power plants. Additionally, it appears as though he is referring to organizational embeddedness given value shifts over how to produce energy, and changes in technology to do so. Transformation, for Allen, needs to start from the top down, something that lines up with Hargroves blame on leadership. 186 A Different Perspective, From: Arthur H. Allen, Chief of Employee Relations and Development Branch, To: TVA Board and H.G. Parris October 4, 1985
Cowgill 71 Additionally, change must begin with a clear, enlightened picture of the mission of a new TVA, or in New-Institutionalist terms, a new myth. The recommendations endorsed by Allen are to contract an external consultant to analyze the organization and what may benefit from change, develop a personal development program for each of the agencys top managers, and to use recently transformed organizations asexamples, such as Honeywell and General Electric. 187 Such change makes sense given that many divisional managers were still present from earlier years of coal fired plant construction, or were employees who had moved up the organizational ladder from that earlier time period. 188 Allen is simply pointing out what I take to be factors of failure, organizational problems that resulted in ineffective addressing of issues, and overall intransigence amongst management. Early administrative stubbornness can be seenin a letter where C.H. Dean, Jr. states that we believe the statutory creation of an inspector general and deputy for TVA is not necessary, as responsibility for failures would not be on such a position.189 However, the need for an inspector general, or bolstered quality assurance, was something that many outside and inside TVA had written to the board about, something that was seen as a necessary change but persisted unchanged until 1985. Another indicator of organizational defense can be found in a 1981 NRC report that stated, excessive bureaucratic organization, lax discipline by managers, and a disregard for quality pulls TVAs operations and construction of nuclear plants below the southeast 187 Follow up to November 19, 1985 DiscussionA Different Perspective, To: Board of Directors, From: Arthur H. Allen, January 13, 1986 188 Hargrove 315 189 Letter from C.H. Dean, Jr. to James j. Howard, Chairman, Committee on Publics Works and Transportation, The House of Representatives, May 7, 1982
Cowgill 72 average. 190 However, most of these issues were not addressed and those who tried to work with TVA on them found managers to be aloof and appeared to be disinterested. 191 Such accounts point out the existence of bounded rationality, routinized practices that many did not want to change, and defense of relative divisional autonomy as actants in a network of actors that were not addressed by obstinate managers and leadership, in turn contributing to overall failure. Constituency and Rates Beyond the organization itself was the constituency of the Tennessee Valley region. This included the wide array of utilities, manufacturers, industrial clients, and of course homes and businesses that paid the TVA for power. The TVA had always attempted to provide its customers with the cheapest possible power and was successful during its early years. However, given historical circumstances such as the Oil Crisis and Three Mile Island, compounded with terrible construction practices, bad forecasting of energy load demand, and money constantly being poured into completing unnecessary reactors, decommissioning others, and fixing others, the rate to consumers began to increase. The rates of power were a sore topic with both the constituency and their representatives. The TVA would continually attempt to publicly circumvent the issue when talking to valley residents or representatives. However, it failed to do so because, given organizational embeddedness and myth, it still pursued nuclear power. Even with increasing costs, TVA claimed that once the construction of certain reactors was complete the rates would drop significantly. Yet, what transpired was that the customers 190 Chattanooga News Free Press, Article by W.L. Schultz, To: TVA Board 191 Letter to David S. Freeman, From: Frank P. Wright
Cowgill 73 paid for bad organizational practice with regard to nuclear power until the day that the program failed and came under new leadership in 1985. Two 1982 news articles fromTennessee newspapers point out the popular opposition to rate increases and the public image damage it did to TVA. One editorial states that after the determination of the 1983 budget of $6.8 billion, TVA immediately deemed rate increases necessary. The writer states, The rate increase should be the last thing for them to consider, of course, with them its the first thing they revert to. The tone here is caustic and highly critical, something that certainly could have hurt the TVA image and public perception. The writer even states that TVA have no check and balance and have a blank check on your bank and mine, in other words, TVA is out of control. Given this the editorialist states that the only solution, something reminiscent of New Deal political battles over TVA, is to sell it and let the private sector compete for power generation in the south. 192 Constituents did not sit by idly; in fact one article explains, a petition signing campaign got underwayprotesting another rate increase. 193 It can be conjectured that such resistance may tie into the newinstitutionalist idea of parameter shifts in the environment, insofar as this time in the 1980s was part of the Reagan era and popular ideology may have shifted toward small government and privatization. Another editorial posits that both David S. Freeman and Richard Freeman should resign to boost agency morale, now at an all time low. In fact, Representative Robin Bear said that there was widespread disgust for the board within the organization. The 192 Editorial: Lane Against TVA Budget Rate Increases by Jerry Lane, February 15, 1982 193 TVA Rate Increase Protested by Petition Cleveland, Tenn. February 14, 1982
Cowgill 74 representative certainly had political motives as he was announcing his candidacy for senator the same month as the statements. However, his statements do reflect growing opposition and distaste in the valley for the TVA. The representative goes on to question why TVA has the third largest construction company under its roof, given costs and its inefficiency, some of that work should be subcontracted. In fact, subcontracting had become a widespread practice at this time among the power industry, yet the persistence of past practices and a structure of relative autonomy that led to defensive reactions to change, may have prevented such a change within TVA. In addition, he points out the fact that dramatic mistakes were made by the board in the 1970s when the decision was made to ignore its own consultants recommendation, to build smaller reactors. Instead TVA followed the track that led to failure, the program of building reactors at a cost of $9 billion, per reactor. 194 To sum up, these articles point out that rate increases and general perceptions of TVA nuclear program problems adversely impacted TVA relations with a constituency that it formerly was on good terms with. An environmental parameter shift is certainly a factor in the failure. Additionally, traditional Weberian theory emphasizes the problems of building up a huge hierarchical bureaucracy, which appears to be the case here. This bureaucracy was created during the New Deal, with a progressive understanding of the relation between the state and economy in mind. Its structure and practices appear to have persisted into a time less conducive to an organization with such a basis. TVA appears to be a relic of the New Deal with a bloated bureaucratic structure, in a time when other 194 Beard Hits Freemans; Says Should Resign by Steven Epley, News-FreePress Staff Writer, February 26, 1982
Cowgill 75 organizations are downsizing and sub-contracting in response to a changing economy that requires more organizational flexibility. Various TVA divisions involved with nuclear power were also intransigent and failed to follow regulations and proposed changes to operations. For instance the Office of Engineering and Design Construction (OEDC) consistently failed to follow regulations. A 1981 review of OEDC nuclear program operations by the NSRS points out that scheduling was shoddy and rarely followed, there was an inadequate implementation of NCM OEDC requirements (a division within OEDC itself). There was inadequate control of materials used for welding, inadequate traceability controls of fabrication/examination processes, and poor checking of welds and calibration checks of welding rods. 195 Another document even states that TVAs current design and construction program for support facilities lacks comprehensive master planning, something that OEDC was supposed to address but apparently did little to change. 196 In short, OEDC was engaged in questionable construction practices. Such practices may have stemmed from sheer inability to meet requirements, but likely stem from OEDC resisting outside change to its entrenched practices, in short, a reaction in defense ofits autonomy. Finally, the persistence of on the fly construction changes that began during the coal fired plant construction era were problematic. A report on the Status of TVA Architecture, focuses on buildings at power plant sites. The survey identifies an 195 Management Review OEDC, To: W.F. Willis, From: H.N. Culver, Director of NSRS, October 1, 1981 196 Summary of BriefingOEDC FY 1984 Operating Plan and Final FY 1983 Performance Report, TO: W.F. Willis, From: G.H. Kimmons, Manger of OEDC, December 19, 1983
Cowgill 76 agency-wide trend toward patchwork temporary solutions by independent program offices and plant personnel 197 Such patchwork solutions may be indicative of the relative autonomy OEDC developed in the coal fired plant building era, and may exemplify the persistence of its methods in an era where the technology being dealt with was not only far riskier but subject to more regulation and review. Safety, Construction, and Operation Along with these issues was the persistent issue of safety. Safety was always of paramount concern amongst nuclear power providers, the government, and the nation generally. Yet, little news attention was ever given to the Watts Bar fire. In addition, TVA was notoriously ineffective in providing a safe environment for workers. Workers got hurt during construction and doing repairs. Not to mention, both maintenance workers and reactor operators worked with the same on the fly rule breaking methods of old when constructing, repairing, and operating coal fired plants. 198 However, the new technology of nuclear power was far riskier and far more regulated. Taking a new-institutionalist stance, we may view regulation as the problem insofar as external regulations pose parameter shifts, and may be difficult for organizations to integrate into their entrenched practices. Construction was also a grave issue when tied to safety. In addition, this is one area where technology can be well understood as an actor. It was often the case that the reactors themselves were the source of problems that could not be addressed quickly and effectively, which was tied to rate increases. Furthermore, the technology being used was constantly being changed which meant changes were constantly taking place and NRC 197 Ibid.198 Hargrove 340
Cowgill 77 procedural hurdles were constantly being dealt with. Finally, there was a major call for change over to different kinds of reactors after TMI. In other words, the actor network surrounding the technology of nuclear power was constantly unraveling, it was never stable and the technology could never be properly integrated into a functioning system. Historic Preservation One common hindrance to construction of nuclear plants was historic preservation of sites being constructed on. A January 13, 1977 document by J.P. Darling, Assistant Director of Power Resource Planning and Thomas J. Ripley, Director of Forestry, Fisheries and Wildlife discusses the issue of historic preservation. The document focuses on historic preservation of lands in the Dixon Springs area of Tennessee do to construction on the Hartsville Nuclear Plant. The directors are explaining that a community meeting will be held to gauge interest on what is to be preserved and why. After said meeting the TVA will commence programs to follow through on necessary preservation. What is important is that such programs and community involvement cost the TVA a lot of money, and such activity was necessary for nearly every plant being constructed. 199 Requiring such community involvement makes sense within the myth of grass-roots democracy, but during the era of said myth (e.g. New Deal) TVA Division of Power was established as autonomous and could bowl over such community interests. Given the drastic difference of the historical period, TVA may simply not have been able to adapt from top down and bottom up values that conflicted, given that the relevant actors were experiencing attacks upon prior organizational autonomy. 199 Hartsville Nuclear PlantMitigation of Historic and Cultural Impacts J.P. Darling and Thomas H. Ripley, January 13, 1977
Cowgill 78 Contractual Issues An additional problem for construction was the failure to obtain and properly manage contracts with non-TVAcontractors. An April 9, 1982 document discusses a contract dispute with ITT Cannon Electric. The contract for the Bellefonte Nuclear plant, was on the order of $1,557,510.06, and required Cannon to supply electrical penetrations qualified under standard317 (1976) of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers. Cannon failed to meet the necessary standards on time for said contract, was granted more time, and once again failed. Because of this construction on the Bellefonte Plant was halted. Wesee here the manifestation of industry contractors and technology as potent actors. Contracting issues impeded construction and were a drain on monetary flow. In fact, TVA asked Cannon to reimburse most of the initial payment, however, Cannon responded by claiming $1,625,830 as the amount TVA owed it from an alleged wrongful termination. After some arbitration Cannon offered to pay TVA $975,000 in satisfaction of these claims. Herbert S. Sanger Jr., General Counsel, recommended taking the offering, which implied absorbing a monetary loss in addition to the failed contract. 200 This points to the problem of integrating external actors into organizational practice, the more general issue of hindered construction and monetary loss, and nuclear reactors as an unstable technology within the actor network of TVA. Another document, from David S. Freeman to the president of Battlefield Electric Company, discusses the on-going repairs and back fitting on Browns Ferry in 1982. The document addresses a potential contract for turbine rotors, however, although the rotors are needed, TVA has no plan to purchase turbine rotors at this time. TVA appears to be 200 ITT Cannon ElectricContract DisputeContract No. 77k64-821322 To:W.F. Willis, From: Herbert S. Sanger Jr., April 9, 1982
Cowgill 79 waiting for the most cost-effective option, which is completely understandable. However, the document points out that TVA was slow to get necessary equipment to restoring and repairing plants like Browns Ferry. Such slow contracting and construction is indicative of an organizational failure to integrate new actors and change operational practices within an organization accustomed to autonomy and internal solutions to problems. 201 Safety A document that is indicative of safety issues and the careless way in which they were handled, discusses the Bellafonte Nuclear Plant and the knowledge of potential safety issues. The primary issue was that high energy piping, had shown signs of circumferential rupture, longitudinal splits, and through-wall leakage cracks. Moderate energy piping, had also shown signs of through-wall leakage cracks. The document explains thata review of the plant identified the piping as potentially problematic. In fact, certain points such as terminal ends of the pressurized portions, were indicated as locations for potential breaks. 202 In short, the document points out technology as a lively and unstable actant in the TVA network. Employee Safety Employees were also commonly endangered which simply reflects the overall problematic nature of safety for TVAs nuclear power program. For instance one employee, Lonnie Whisenhunt, contracted manganese poisoning while he was an 201 Letter to Mr. Robert E. Beck, President: Battlefield Electric Company, From: David S. Freeman, January 10, 1983 202 Bellafonte Nuclear PlantFSAR Amendment 19, August 20, 1979
Cowgill 80 employee of the TVA Belfonte Nuclear plant. Interestingly Lonnie was at first refused compensation but a TVA board of appeals reversed the decision. 203 In fact, there was even a fatality at the Hartsville Nuclear Plant in 1983. This fatality, however, was treated in an (understandably) bureaucratic and cold manner, yet, the issues tied to the death were not made clear and the Division of Occupational Health and Safety (DOHS) was marginalized in its investigation of the fatality. The DOHS wrote David Freeman to explain that the investigation team was dismissed without an opportunity to analyze and discuss what had been seen and heard, while conducting interviews with employees at the plant. Additionally, the Office of General Counsel wrote its official report without the complete analysis from the DOHS, which DOHS argues, and I agree, is problematic. DOHS characterizes the report as having been written primarily from a legal perspective to protect TVA from potential litigation rather than from an accident prevention standpoint to identify the principal causes and underlying factors, in the accident, in order to identify and address necessary safety issues. In short, a significantsafety issue was treated as primarily legal and problems tied to a fatality appear to have been addressed in ac cursory way if at all. This is yet another example of divisional autonomy being challenged and the defense of said autonomy being problematic for actors (e.g. employees). Moreover, the document also points out operational and structural issues insofar as DOHS states, The report does not address some of the possible failures in our management system that may have contributed to the accident, such as pre-job planning, supervisory trainings, management involvement in assigning and monitoring job 203 Brewer, Lentz, Nelson& Whitmire Attorneys At Law to David S. Freeman, September 3, 1981
Cowgill 81 functions, and mid-and top-level management involvement in reviewing overall job function changes when the project went from a construction phase to a shutdown mode. As an example, it was assumed craft journeymen involved in the pipe loading were properly trained and capable of carrying out their duties safely without supervisory oversight or procedural guidance. 204 Thus, the organizational structure of management fails to address problems that resulted in a death. Not to mention, management fails to effectively monitor staff and operations on important projects including construction and deferral of nuclear plants. This document brings to life a wealth of factors including, organizational structure, safety, and divisional competition and autonomy. Whistle Blowing Directly related to employee safety is the treatment of whistle blowing employees. A letter to the U.S. Department of Labor from TVA whistle blower, T. Norman Batts, declares, I have been discriminated against by the Tennessee Valley Authority, in violation of the Energy Reorganization Act, because I have been, among other things, reassigned from procurement activities which I have performed for over five years. The reason behind such reassignment, according to Batts, is in retaliation for my efforts to perform my duties in conformance with all safety standards and quality assurance procedures. 205 A David S. Freeman correspondence with regards to the Batts issue simply states that, the same policy considerations that prompted our decision still exist. However, the document displays much more as he goes on to state that our safety image needs strengthening, not weakening. This in my view would weaken it. Weve kept the 204 Accident Investigation Briefing Hartsville Fatality, To: David S. Freeman, From: Division of Occupational Health and Safety, July 25, 1983 205 Norm T. Batts Letter to U.S. Department of Labor November 10, 1981
Cowgill 82 Nuclearites etc. out of the Valley. This shows that Freeman is conscious of safety issues, but is seemingly more concerned with public perception of safety than actual safety given the cursory way in which safety issues were generally treated (as is shown here). Such concern ties into the new-institutionalist notion of parameter shifts, Freeman recognizes such an environmental shift and wants to adjust to it. However, such adjustment appears to lead to neglecting safety and quality assurance issues. Additionally, Freeman points out the contentious nature of nuclear power and implies that the TVA has worked to keep anti-nuclear and pro-nuclear lobbyers alike out of the Valley, another marker of adjusting to a different environment of organizational embeddedness. 206 A December 22, 1981, letterexplains that Batts worked at Browns Ferry and had made a complaint based on race in addition to claiming he was discriminated against for whistle blowing on safety issues. However, according to Herbert Sanger Jr., organizational restructuring is to blame for his reassignment. Quality Assurance stated, Mr. Batts was reassigned because of the reorganization of the quality assurance program in the Division of Nuclear Power, nor did Mr. Batts meet the educational or training requirements for his job. 207 It is very interesting that Mr. Batts job was apparently supposed to be fulfilled by trained and educated engineers; however, he still effectively conducted his duty for five years. This is indicative of Division of Powers poor employment practices, poor oversight of training and qualifications for jobs, and points out a potential safety issue given unqualified employees working in nuclear plants. In addition, it points out TVAs stringent treatment of whistle blowers, which may stem 206 IbidWas attached to the Norman Batts Letter207 Energy reorganization Act Complaint of T. Norman Batts, To: W.F. Willis, From: Herbert S. Sanger, Jr., December 22, 1981
Cowgill 83 fromimage maintenance in addition to the need of group affiliation amongst employees. Employees seeking group affiliation maintain and comply with formal and informal norms, whistle blowing may have been tacitly sanctioned and Batts may have broken an informal norm. A final document addresses the U.S. Department of Labor decision letter on the complaint of T. Norman Batts. Labor found that discrimination was not a factor in those TVA actions comprising Mr. Batts complaint. 208 In short, the TVA was absolved of any potential problems with regard to their treatment of the whistleblower, however, the fact that a whistle blower was demoted after five years of apparently decent work is indicative of Division of Power treatment of such employees. It is no wonder that Hargrove points out whistleblowers were few and far between, as they were treated poorly. However, it is a wonder that Hargrove does not operationalize such treatment as indicative of the new institutionalist notion of group affiliation, and maintenanceof norms. The maintenance of such norms may have been problematic given that issues of safety may have been neglected to maintain group affiliation. Browns Ferry Fire and its Consequences The fire at Browns Ferry occurred on March 22, 1975, yet problems persisted well into the 1980s and up to the shift of power to Admiral Steven White. A June 30, 1982 memorandum to L.M. Mills, Manager of Nuclear Licensing, from H.J. Green, Director of Nuclear Power, discusses the persistent problems with restoring Browns Ferry back to an operational state. Modifications done to the plant since 1975 included, physical moving of certain electrical conduits, and the addition of extensive fire 208 Energy Reorganization Act Complaint of T. Norman Batts, To: W.F. Willis, From: Heart S. Sanger, Jr., January 14, 1982
Cowgill 84 protection systems. In addition to such changes TVA, in 1982, was actively workingto create an effective safe shutdown system in the event of emergency. 209 In short, the document explains that TVA was actively working to get plants up to standards. However, as we have seen standards were constantly changing and TVA was always working to catch up. In many ways such a chase was fruitless and was a sign of wider systemic problems including safety issues in the mid 1970s, major expenses on getting plants to coincide with regulation, and an obstinate approach to the program. In other words, the reactors themselves continually manifest as unstable technology in an actor network, and the new myth of nuclear power appears to contribute to organizational intransigence. TVA created a new myth to emulate past glory but did so within an unstable network of associations. Additionally safety issues persisted. An October 29, 1981 document reports the loss of all a/c power at Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant. Apparently such a loss had occurred but was not severe and did not end in any negative consequences. However, such occurrences are still problematic and TVA began performing severeaccident sequence analysis with the help of Oak Ridge National Laboratory to test the safety and reliability of said a/c power system. The study concludes that TVA could bolster its power system to prevent any later problems. 210 The document is important because it shows that TVA was finally reaching out to other organizations for aid. It also reflects TVAs persistent safety issues even after 6 years of attempting to resuscitate Browns 209 Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant Evaluation, To: L.M. Mills, Manager of Nuclear Licensing, From: H.J. Green, Director of Nuclear Power, June 30, 1982 210 Browns Ferry Nuclear PlantSevere Accident Sequence Analysis, Loss of All AC PowerFinal Draft Report, To: H.J. Green, Director or Nuclear Power, From: M.N. Sprouse, Manager of Engineering Design, October 29, 1981
Cowgill 85 Ferry. Technology is potent actor here and the document reveals the factor of persistent safety problems and technological change. Given that in 1985 the program can be said to have officially failed because of a shift in leadership, it is intriguing that in 1984 the program was problematic and Browns Ferry was still not back up to regulation and was still encountering safety issues. Browns Ferry is an early indicator of problems, exemplifies the persistence of said problems, and points out the ineffective and inefficient nature of nuclear program operations. It reveals instability of the technology and the actor network, in addition to the troubles of an organization adjusting to parameter shifts and working under a new myth. Consequences of Three Mile Island In addition to these safety issues is the problem of safety after Three Mile Island (TMI), which crystallized the issue in the public eye. Although, the NRC had the publics interest in mind, along with the safety of all those involved with working with nuclear power, after TMI regulations began to be absurd and often constituted an unnecessary bureaucratic and monetary burden on the industry. In fact, it is around this time that many providers began to actively seek alternatives and revert back to coal. TVA was involved in seeking alternatives, but primarily continued to pursue nuclear power as its primary means of energy production. When the Oil Runs Out, How Long Do We have? a document by Rolf M. Sinclair a scientist for NSF in Washington, D.C. wrote to David S. Freeman in 1983. Freemans reply to the document, which focused on alternatives to fossil fuels was titled, What Would It Take to Make Nuclear Power Work? Such a title is indicative of Freemans belief in and vigor for pursuing nuclear power as the answer to our energy
Cowgill 86 needs. Freeman explains that following TMI the nuclear power industry is left with two paths to follow. One path leads to increasingly costly and complex design modifications required to make sure light-water reactors can operate safely. This approach, requiring elaborate legislative and public relations campaigns to convince the public that these reactors are safe, is essentially a dead end road. It is interesting that after an incident like TMI increased regulation and expenditures make nuclear power less viable but Freeman insists on continuing the program. The different paths also point out the efficacy of technology as an actant in the program failure. Freeman explains, The other, more hopeful, path leadsto a fundamental rethinking of commercial nuclear reactor design. The industry must recognize that the fundamental failing of the current generation of nuclear reactors is not in the political and regulatory arena but in the reactors themselves. What is required is a better reactor design rather than a stepped up lobbying effort. In other words, the answer to all the issues facing the nuclear industry and TVA after TMI is a technological one. There is a shift of the problem from the political and regulatory to the technical. Technology is seen as a possible ally, but ends up proving to be an unstable one that unravels an actor network. Like Latour states, technological breakdowns reveal new and efficacious actants. The reactors are a problem for the industry and for TVA, given the need for better safety of operation in addition to compliance with impending and current NRC regulation, such as back-fitting old reactors to be up to current standards. Here we see technology as an actant in addition to Freemans status as a prisoner of myth in the pursuit of program success. 211 211 When the Oil Runs Out, How Long Do We have? From: Rolf M. Sinclair, NSF To: David S. Freeman, 1983
Cowgill 87 NRC and TVA Relations Tied to the impacts of TMI is the relation of the NRC to TVA generally. NRC oversaw much of TVA after the Watts Bar incident, which was of course necessary, but the documents seem to point out that TVA was both often compliant and not. In addition, it appears that NRC often complicated simple issues and placed more of a burden on TVA that could be tied to the failure. In fact, a letter to W.F. Willis, the GeneralManager of TVA, from Herbert S. Sanger Jr., TVA General Counsel, on July 30,1982, points to TVA malaise with regard to complying with the NRC. The document is in regards to a court case, Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. V. United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Consolidated Cases. The document points out that a D.C. circuit court invalidated the NRCs rule for assessing the environmental impact of the back end of the uranium fuel cycle licensing. In short, the court upheld TVA standard practice for assessing environmental impacts of spent uranium. The NRC reacted with a plan to petition for Supreme Court review. The advice given by Sanger in the document is that the TVA should take no action, in other words, it should continue with standard procedures, displaying a problematic intransigence to change in the face of safety issues and a changing nuclear industry. Sanger explains, No TVA plan is immediately affected by the outcome in this case, although in the long run an adverse decision could adversely affect our obtaining operating licenses for Watts Bar and Bellefonte.212 The document illustrates that TVA is acting with self interest, or interest in easing practice in mind, not 212 Natural Resources defense Council, INC. V. United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Consolidated Cases. To: W.F. Willis, General Manager From: Herbert S. Sanger, Jr., General Counsel. July 30, 1982
Cowgill 88 necessarily cooperating and effectively operating a nuclear power program. To tie in new institutionalism, TVA is reacting to a new organizational environment and it is attempting to maintain its autonomy in the face of new and constantly changing stringent regulation. One highly indicative document gets at TVAs lack of care for safety compliance and the TVAs view of the NRC as a menace. The document, to W.F. Willis, from H.N. Culver (Director of Nuclear Safety Review Staff), discusses a NRC enforcement conference of February 24, 1984. The Nuclear Safety Review Staff (NSRS) did not actually attend the conference, but believes that there is a good possibility that a civil penalty will be imposed for one or both of the events discussed during the enforcement conference. These events include the improper insertion of control rods which caused an out-of-sequence rod pattern, something that had occurred before, and failure to have an instrument sensing line valve positioned correctly that negateddifferential pressure indication, something that occurred on a unit startup after refueling outages. That such events still occurred in 1984 foreshadows the 1985 failure. Prior to this time similar and worse violations and safety risks had occurred, yet TVA shows here that it failed to address issues of operation effectively. Such failure may be tied to factors of maintaining group affiliation amongst employees, persistence of past practices, the pursuit of a new myth, and the failure to adjust to a new environment and to stabilize an unstable technology. This document pointout many factors within the nuclear program failure and is simultaneously indicative of the problematic relation between TVA and NRC. Something that contributes to program failure as the NRC is a node of relevant action that TVA
Cowgill 89 ignores up to a late date (1984). In fact a 1981 document, which is a correspondence between TVA and Lund Consulting, Inc., shows the company offering assistance in meeting NRC regulation. The TVA responds by stating, we have sufficient expertise and manpower within our own organization to complete the task. 213 Once again, autonomy is being maintained at a cost to the program. This statement made in 1981 by H.G. Parris, Manager of Power, proves to be untrue as TVA fails to effectively comply. Another document from H.N. Culver to W.F. Willis, discusses another NRC enforcement conference of 1984. Culver states that the TVA still has problems with NRC and that in some cases we do not support their concerns, in others TVA is already attempting to address them. Culver goes on to explicate that there have been issues with load forecasting (predicting the amount of power needed for customers). The TVA was using the Wharton long-term econometric model, whereas, the NRC and much of the industry was utilizing the U.S. energy supply and demand data prepared by the Gas research Institute. The TVA, which had problems with poor load forecasting and in turn increased rates, was utilizing a different math model than the rest of the federal government and much of the industry, which could certainly have been a factor in failure. However different, the two models, Reflect the downward revision in oil and natural gas prices made over the last year by all forecasters. A soft oil market is expected to result in a lack of falling real oil price increases through the mid-1980s. Even with a rapid recovery from the current worldwide recession, it is unlikely that OPEC will be able to do much more than hold its current nominal price of $34 per barrel for the next three of four years. 213 Letter From: Ms. Linda O. Lund, President Lund Consulting, INC. To: H.G. Parris, Manager of Power. November 3, 1981
Cowgill 90 Thus, the oil crisis can be said to have lasting effects on the industry at large. The TVA and federal government, in 1984, are still actively concerned with the oil and gas markets because of prices and the need for conservation and alternatives. This bolsters the possibility of the TVA pursuing nuclear power obstinately because of federal pressure and simply continuing the organizational practice of espousing nuclear power as an alternative to coal. Finally, the TVA apparently used a growth rate for demand that is somewhat higher than the growth assumptions used in other recent energy forecasts, but that these forecasts had been much more pessimistic about oil prices. 214 Thus, an oil crisis and the use of different math models can be said to have contributed to organizational failure insofar as the former is a parameter shift and the latter represents divergence between relevant actors in a problematic actor network (e.g. NRC and TVA and the use of different math models). The oil crisis led to consequences in practice and emphasis on nuclear power as an alternative, while on the other hand poor forecasting contributed to rate increases and an unhappy constituency. External Review An October 31, 1983,document by John G. Stuart, addressed to David S. Freeman and the entireboard of directors, is a GAO Survey of NRC Relationship With Nuclear Utilities. The GAO (Government Accountability Office) is reviewing the NRC for various practices and is investigating whether further inquiry is necessary by surveying utilities such as the TVA. The concerns of the GAO are interesting because they call into question NRC regulations and may paint a better picture of TVA noncompliance. The GAOs concerns include the wisdom of NRC back fitting orders after 214 NRC Enforcement Conference of February 24, 1984. To: W.F. Willis, General Manager From: H.N. Culver, Director of Nuclear Safety Review Staff. March 2, 1984
Cowgill 91 TMI, the relationship between resident inspectors and their regional and Washington superiors, whether the immense costs of back-fits were known by the NRC, whether back fits were forced onto utilities by the use of licensing process leverage, and the objectivity of resident inspectors.In short, the NRC is problematic to TVAs actor network. This document is of great value because it illustrates a network of factors and how they all directly or indirectly contribute to nuclear program failure. Another document, from November 21, 1983,reports the results of the survey related to the document discussed above. Dennis McCloud, supervisor of Regulatory Engineering Support, said there was general agreement among the TVA officials being interviewed that most NRCrequired back fits had a neutral impact on safetysafety is almost impossible to quantify. 215 Thus, NRC may be characterized as overbearing and not necessarily fully competent as a federal regulator, something that is certainly problematic. In other words, NRC caused parameter shifts that may have been unnecessary and caused TVA to react in defense of its autonomy. Internal Views Another document of importance with regard to TMI, NRC, and TVA relations is a critique of TMI consequences with NRC regulation. The document is to H.N. Culver of NSRS from H.G. Parris, Manager of Power on, May 3, 1984. Parris asserts that, In the extremely tense environment generated by high-level national committees, congressional hearing, state and local government protests, and the general publicattitude after TMI, a large number of actions were developed and were made requirements. Many of these actions are valuable; some are not valuable when judged with current knowledge. 215 GAO Survey of NRC Relationship with Nuclear Utilities. From: John G. Stewart To: The Board of Director. October 31, 1983
Cowgill 92 Parris is disparaging toward NRC regulation, and we have seen that he may be justified given GAO concern. However, Parris is also a highly biased informant with nuclear program success of great interest to him. He claims that NRC rushed to resolve issues that spawned from TMI and that, The attendant licensee rush to beresponsive led to implementing designs which were not totally integrated with the pre-TMI NRC requirements and the ongoing utility operations and maintenance requirements. This resulted in a rapidly changing equipment market where designs were quickly made obsolete by new and more specific products. This situation placed a great burden on TVA to meet the TMI-related commitments. 216 Thus, TMI is directly tied to NRC regulation that placed a great amount of pressure on TVA to comply with new standards. This should be interpreted as additional difficulty, and a challenge to the autonomy of, an organization already struggling to integrate new constraints into its operations. In fact, the NRC even made decommissioning reactors a more difficult process (whichgot re-evaluated in 1983), a great irony for TVA given that it was doing just that during the early to mid 1980s. The relationship was certainly a problematic one, something conducive to failure given the necessity of said relationship within the actor network of nuclear power. EPA and TVA Relations Another group that was consistently hounding the TVA was the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It is important to note here that I am not taking a normative stance for or against the TVA or EPA in these relations but am simply arguing that the EPA placed a necessary and unavoidable burden upon TVA that contributed to its inability to rescue the nuclear power program. Problems with the EPA began in the mid 216 GAO Follow Survey Follow Up. To: H.N. Culver, Nuclear Safety Review Staff From: H.G. Parris, Manager of Power. May 3, 1984
Cowgill 93 1970s with the clean air act, which led to changesto coal fired power plants. In fact, part of TVA rhetoric with regard to nuclear power was that it was environmentally friendly. Although a contentious issue, nuclear power is certainly environmentally friendly in terms of production (natural disasters aside), not necessarily disposal. The EPA however continued to place a burden on the TVA into the 1980s with regard to the nuclear power program that are factors in the TVA stretching itself thin, failing to respond to necessary requests, and ultimately failure. Uranium was a topic of contention for the TVA with regards to market factors and environmental factors. A May 23, 1983 document to W.F. Willis from Mohamed T. ElAshry (Director of Environmental Quality) discusses the EPA proposed environmental standards for uranium and thorium mill tailing at licensed commercial processing sites. The document is the Environmental Quality Staffs recommended response to the proposed EPA standards. The document quickly points out some disagreement on the environmental impact of TVA uranium mills. First there does not appear to be enough information provided to link radon emission rates to health hazards. Second, we do not see the justification that a minimum control period of 200 years for tailings disposal is sufficient to public health and environment. Third, practical means to demonstrate compliance with the radium-226 standards should be addressed. The Environmental Quality Staff is moving to get the EPA to consider these issues further, and the Division of Power supports the recommendations. The TVA is displaying concern for environmental issues tied to uranium, but is also getting tied up in bureaucratic inefficiency when looking for perhaps unnecessary reconsideration of certain issues. On the other hand, TVA may be hindered by unnecessary burdens, which is the reasoning behind such movement for reconsideration. In short, the document points
Cowgill 94 to two possible interpretations both of which are a bureaucratic burden upon TVA and in turn problematic for the overall program. 217 Ultimately the EPA is yet another actor that signals parameter shifts and the TVA defense of its organizational autonomy within a widening actor network. Another document by Bevan W. Brown, Director of Air and Water Resources, from May 18, 1983, displays legitimate TVA action with the environment. The document discusses TVA environmental research at Sequoyah Nuclear Plant (SQN), such research is required by the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit issued to plants. The 1982monitoring results were that although plant operations were judged to cause or contribute to changes in phytoplankton, zooplankton, and the fish community generally, intake losses were not believed to have adversely affected the Chickamauga Reservoir fish community. In addition, overall differences identified between preoperational and operational periods were considered unrelated to plant operationSQN apparently have not significantly impacted the aquatic environment. This document is interesting because we see the TVA complying with necessary environmental regulation. However, such compliance and research is done internally and may be questionable given the results of some changes and the glossing over them as not having affected the aquatic community. Either way, nuclear plant operation is shown to require more operational and bureaucratic stretching of resources for environmental reasons that stem form the 1970s onward. TVAs strict hierarchy is shown to be adjusting, but may not be integrating new parameters of operation effectively. Perhaps pursuing nuclear power is unwise in the face of such regulation, and other alternatives 217 Review of EPA Proposed Environmental Standards for Uranium and Thorium Mill Tailings at Licensed Commercial Processing Sites May 23, 1983 Mohamed T. El-Ashry
Cowgill 95 should have been more heavily considered. Of course, this is all very easy to say after the fact, but we can still argue that the organization was placed under additional stress because of environmental regulation, which may have impacted nuclear program failure. 218 Congress and TVA Congress also began to play a more active role in the late 1970s and 1980s. We need to understand Congress as a factor insofar as it granted TVA massive amounts of independence early on and was consistently granting the organization more money and a higher debt ceiling without thorough review (its less active role). 219 It was not until the late 1970s, when problems became apparent, that Congress took an interest in the nuclear power program. Congress was one of the groups reviewing the TVA and calling for organizational change. However its early disinterest and lack of care are a major factor, as it may have simply gotten involved to late. It is easy to speculate what could have happened if congress and TVA had worked together from the start, but what is important to recognize is that the early structure of TVA and its independence from congressional oversight are inextricably tied and that is a factor that came to the fore later and is tied to the nuclear programs failure insofar as past practices and structure persisted. A June 7, 1982,report to David S. Freeman and Richard Freeman from John G. Stewart, a government auditor, displays congressional interest in auditing and evaluating TVA. The audits stem from congress recognizing the impending failure of the nuclear power program because of reactor decommissioning, ceasing construction, and 218 Sequoyah Annual Operational Report of Aquatic Monitoring Bevan W. Brown May 18, 1983 219 Hargrove 277
Cowgill 96 constituent complaints. The document explains that the GAO reported the need for an Inspector General to manage the nuclear power program. Because of this report Senator Sasser requested an audit and investigation to report back to the Senate Committee on Appropriations. The document addresses how and what will be audited (primarily the organizational structure of operating the power program), and is to be understood as a indicator of congressional interest at a period when TVA was already on a road to failure given closing reactors, persistent safety issues and fool hearty pursuit of nuclear power. 220 Congressional interest came at an inconvenient time, and is yet another threat to TVA autonomy, and another marker of changes to the organizations environment. Another document from 1982 from Alabama representative Ronnie G. Flippo to Chairman Charles Dean, Jr. expresses concern for the boards recent actions in canceling nuclear units and increasing electric rates. Flippo is inquiring about policy tied to such changes, primarily focusing on finance. Flippo is interested in information about the amount of TVAs estimated power program borrowing for the next five years, beginning in fiscal 1983 and the expected uses of those funds. It is almost comical that a valley representative is taking interest in TVA financing in 1982 given that construction deferral, safety issues, request for a higher debt ceiling, and rate increases had begun in the mid to late 1970s. It is understandable that Congress would take interest as constituent anxiety grew, however, taking interest in 1982 is simply taking interest to late. Flippo goes on to express concern over the potential canceling of various deferred units. He states, I would like to have your most recent estimate of the probability of such cancellations, the timing, and the potential financial impact on TVA and on the Valley 220 Plan for Organizing and Managing TVAs Audit, Evaluation, Improvement, and Investigation Activities June 7, 1982 John G. Stewart
Cowgill 97 ratepayer. In general Flippo is concerned with electric rates and the most recent estimate of the amount of future electric rate increases. This document can be read as representative self-interest, but is also indicative of Congressional disinterest until late into a period of impending failure. 221 In short, TVA was experiencing a very new threat to its autonomy, and one that was completely juxtaposed to theprior relation of two actors within the actor network of TVA power production. A later document, from May 18, 1984, displays an intransigent and seemingly blind David S. Freeman writing to an inquiring senator, Howard Baker. The document is a summary account of David Freemans work as Director over the 6 years he was in office, which may explain its seemingly ignorant self-glorification. Freeman explains that the rise of electric rates and the failure of TVA to be sufficiently responsive to the inquiries or the concerns of the citizens of the valley have been of great concern to the senator and other congressman over Freemans tenure. Freeman summarizes the situation when he took office: When I took office in 1977 TVA was in the midst of a gigantic construction program building 14 nuclear reactors and electric rates were in an upward spiral in large part to reflect their escalating costs. We have stopped construction on 8 of these reactors, completed 2 and are well along with the completion of the other 4. Over the 7-year period, electric rates did in fact double to reflect these rapidly escalating costs. This quote is interesting because it points out knowledge of issues with construction costs and their connection to electric rates. However, Freeman tries to frame the situation as one that he is inculpable of. He may have inherited much of the problem given TVA 221 Document to Charles Dean, Jr. From Ronnie G. Flippo Congress of the United States House of Representatives September 9, 1982
Cowgill 98 myth, past practices, and the emphasis on the program prior to his taking the chairmanship. However, he simply did not save the program. He writes, in the last two years we have been able to stabilize electric ratesTVA today is in a very sound financial situation. He attributes these changes to cutting costs, energy conservation, and construction cancellations. Freeman is writing in 1984, directly prior to the collapse of the program given its shift to new control under Admiral Steven White of the Nuclear Navy in 1985. He then goes on to explain that failure to cease rate increases earlier was tied to the need for TVA to pay its own bills for higher fuel costs, higher interest rates, and the growing costs of building more and more plants. An ironic assessment given that his whole plan was to stop construction. In addition, such costs were caused by ceaselessly pursuing nuclear power, something that Freeman, although he deferred certain plants, was also guilty off. Nuclear power as new TVA myth is important, it was goal that hindered efficient operation and the ability to adjust when presented with complicating factors. In the face of rising costs, an unfriendly market, technological and safety issues, the program persisted primarily because of organizational structure and the myth of pursuing past glories. Freeman put forth TVA myth and shows us his status as prisoner directly prior to program failure when he states that without him the TVA will carry on in a way representative of TVAs proud 51 years of achievement to improve the economic and social well being of the people of the Valley and the Nation as well. Freeman is a prisoner of myth who wants the TVA to remain heroic, hence his determination in saving the program and creating a new myth. However, as we know he fails, do in part to his
Cowgill 99 own hubris, but also impart by being subject to organizational weight that he could not singlehandedly make shift.222 The Nuclear Power Industry and Energy Markets Furthermore there were market factors tied to the nuclear industry generally, the market for power produced by TVA, and the uranium market. TVA consistently tried to find new sources ofuranium and was also shutting down drained mines. Doing so became a burden during the 1980s during which it was jumping through more NRC hurdles and was looking to save money by finding cheaper sources of uranium. TVA also had a difficult relationship with the nuclear industry insofar as TVA was an active member within industry associations, and then departed from such activity. TVA was consistently attempting to be independent as it had been in the past. However, this was ineffective in a market such as the nuclear power industry in which, the industry is consistently changing and working with each other to provide for effective and efficient planning to weather market change and technological shifts. Finally, the market that was seeking TVAs power was shrinking, while TVA believed it to be growing. The uranium market was quite problematic for the TVA in the 1980s. Because TVA owned mines could not supply enough uranium for TVA plants, it had to begin looking for suppliers in the open market, something TVA rarely did prior to the nuclear power program. A document points out that in addition to the lack of supply environmental concerns have led to deferring planned production from TVA-owned properties. However, because of the significant range of uncertainty in TVAs projected nuclear fuel needs, committing to spot market purchases could limit supply 222 Letter to TheHonorable Howard Baker May 18, 1984 from David S. Freeman
Cowgill 100 adjustments if the need is lower than current projections. Thus, H.G. Parris, who is writing to W.F. Willis, expresses uncertainty in how to proceed 223 It is here that we can see that Uranium supply is problematic because it was a necessary resource, and was not available completely internally. Moreover, TVA did not know how to proceed in 1981 because of poor supply predictions. Such things point out operational problems with projection, maintaining uranium mines in line with environmental concerns, and general organizational indecision. The uranium market is yet another factor that TVA had to work to integrate into its entrenched practices and may have failed to do. Richard M. Freeman seemed to be the board member concerned with nuclear industry relations. In fact, he asserted that TVA should rejoin the Atomic Industrial Forum, from which it withdrew in 1979 after having been a member for 10 years. This wasbecause membership would aid us in obtaining and sharing information about the nuclear industry and its emergency planning process. Thus, membership would aid with knowledge regarding emergency planning in a post-TMI industry. In addition, Freeman recommends that TVA rejoin because the entire nuclear program is rapidly becoming an operational program rather than a developmental program. Richard M. Freeman recognizes an organizational shift and is trying to aid TVA in joining the industry of which it isa part. However, it appears that consensus was non-existent, as W.F. Willis claimed to simply not understand how TVA would benefit, be able to avoid nuclear advocacy programs, or get a $32,00/yr. value. Thus, organizational change 223 Feasibility of Acquiring Uranium Supplies In The Open Market and Further Deferring TVA Production, To: W.F. Willis, General Manager, From: H.G. parries, Manager of Power, January 4, 1982
Cowgill 101 was seemingly recognized, but the relevant actors never appeared to agree. 224 Group affiliation may be a factor here, as may myth insofar as TVA was always a heavily internally operated organization. A later document reports correspondence between W.F. Willis and H.G. Parris on the matter. Parris support membership because of the ability to hear the thoughts of other utilities, in addition to letting those utilities know TVAs position.225 Such internal conflict, which apparently continued into 1983, supports Hargroves emphasis on leadership, although I have already pointed out many other factors. In fact, what is of importance is that, given strict hierarchy and the need for group affiliation, TVA simply could not reach consensus on an issue that was supposedly formative for a changing program. Conclusion All these factors create a lively actor network that unraveled because of technologic instability, entrenched organizational practices, a new environment of organizational embeddedness, parameter shifts to said environment,the persistence of organizational myth, and the factor of group affiliation amongst actors. Hargrove provides us with the concept of organizational myth, something that I agree, led to intransigence within TVA to necessary change. Moreover, I hope to haveshown that such myth was tied to an early conception of TVA and its relation to the state and valley economy that was created during the New Deal. Such myth proved problematic within the new context of the Oil Crisis and the Post-Three-Mile-Island world, given entrenched 224 Membership In The Atomic Industrial Forum, Document Summary. Richard M. Freemans Files, August 5, 1981 225 Information Concerning the Renewable Energy Institute and the 1983 Renewable Energy Forum. To: W.F. Willis, From: H.G. Parris, March 31, 1983
Cowgill 102 practice and the tendency to see external calls for change as a threat to organizational autonomy (e.g. EPA/NRC/Congress as discussed above). Additionally, Hargrove pointed out leadership as the primary factor in nuclear power program failure. Although I agree leadership was a factor; I have shown through the use of primary documents that there was a far wider and livelier network of actors contributing to overall failure. These actors include, but may not be limited to, growing constituentdiscontent and negative perceptions of TVA, increased rates to customers, construction problems, persistent safety issues, failure to address safety issues, failure to address needed organizational change, lack of proper accountability and quality assurance, divisional resistance to change, negative reactions to whistle blowers, increased costs, and technological difficulties. In short, there are many factors that contribute to the failure of a nuclear power program. Furthermore, the factors reveal traditional Weberian, Neo-Weberian, and New Institutionalist insights such as, problems of strict hierarchy and division of labor, the role of interaction and group affiliation, and the importance of the organizational environment and parameter shifts within it. Although, some may argue that ANT and more traditional organizational theories are irreconcilable, I hope to have shown that their irreconcilable nature does not prevent one from utilizing a synthesis of analytical perspectives to better understand a situation that is conducive to such a combination. Their synthesis enables the tracing of associations in failing to create the social, enables the operationalization of technology as an actant, and still enables us to understand organizations with the insightful and less radical organizational theories that started with Weber. All in all, the Tennessee Valley Authoritys nuclear power program failed in 1985 because of an array
Cowgill 103 of factors ranging from organizational structure, entrenched practices, and failure of leadership to adjust to a changing organizational environment to technological difficulties and an unstable actor network.
Cowgill 104 APPENDIX A) Methods: This study was conducted utilizing historical archival methods. From October 12 th -15 th archival research was conducted at the Atlanta National Archives, part of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). 226 For 6-8 hours each day research consisted of going through approximately 80 boxes of primary documents directly sent fromthe TVA to the archive. The most heavily searched and utilized source was the correspondences of David S. Freeman. The correspondences of Richard S. Freeman were also significant to my study and much time was dedicated to them during archival research. I also reviewed Division of Power documents, Nuclear Division documents, and Office of Engineering and Construction and Development documents. In addition, I came across various documents that were correspondences with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), senators or congressmen generally, the EPA, nuclear industry contractors, and an array of third parties relevant to the nuclear power program. The approach used was tedious but simple and straightforward. I was only allowed to review one box of documents at a time. I slowly worked my way through document after document looking for any that discussed, first and foremost, the nuclear program explicitly, safety issues, construction of reactors, contracts related to construction, regulation affecting the power program, NRC recommendations and reviews, EPA recommendations on energy, and any interactions between the TVA board and other TVA divisions or the nuclear industry. Instead of reading every single document, an impossible task in the time available, I skimmed many documents with a 226 http://www.archives.gov/
Cowgill 105 keen eye to explicit reference to or indicators of the above topics. Indicators were usually other topics related to the ones above, such as a contract negotiation or correspondence on a meeting that pertained to the above topics. These primary topics were chosen as they are most logically related to the failure of the nuclear power program and many were suggested in Hargroves account and thus emphasized by me as a means of expansion on the topic. Accounting for biases within the documents was of little trouble as they were all clearly from a certain division or actor that usually made their aims clear. For instance, David S. Freeman was clear about reasons why the TVA would benefit from the institution of a certain organizational change or that safety issues were clearly a problem. There was also implied reasoning that can be inferred from reviewing the documents, such as safety issues being tied to lack of funds to change practices or material conditions. Research bias was considered, but is not problematic given that the necessary documents were explicitly relevant or irrelevant, and that I as a researcher have no ties to the TVA or nuclear power as an industry. I considered my bias, as someone who may be considered an environmentalist, with regards to nuclear power, but found it to be unimportant because this study does not bring nuclear power into question as a valid or sustainable means of power production. Nor does it treat nuclear power as political issue, but instead analyzes nuclear power as a relevant factor in organizational failure. The use of historical archival research is fundamental to History as an academic discipline; it has also been widely used within Sociology. Some major examples of
Cowgill 106 sociological studies that utilize such methods include works by Gieryn and Weber. 227 Earl Babbies The Practice of Social Research also attests to the validity of the method within Sociology. 228 Thus, others have shown the validity and utility of historical archival research. I have chosen to conduct my study in such a way because it is most conducive to understanding the past failure of the TVAs nuclear power program. Not to mention, the method ties in well with the use of a theory that emphasizes the importance of historical context and the networks of actors involved in creating the social situation or associations studied. All documents used can be accessed at the Atlanta National Archives. 227 Gieryn: Boundary-Work and the Demarcation of Science from Non-Science: Strains and Interest in Professional Ideologies of Scientists. Weber: The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. 228 Babbie 331
Cowgill 107 B) Poem: From the Atlanta Journal (NYE 326) Leave your plow, law a moment. Press your ear In wonder to this post. You hear the hum? It is the song of heartstrings, the faint cry Of generations. Over the Georgia hills These slender sentinels stand proud, and fling their shining roadway for the kindly slave, The many-figured genii, tocome in Out of the strength of the earth and roaring water To blaze against the shadowed ignorance. (Out of the darkness, light, Out of despair The new fulfillment of equality.) This is your heritage. It came to birth From brains who strove to light thecurse Of useless labor from too-burdened flesh. It is democracy at workthe bond Of brotherhood between all men who seek To raise themselves forever form the beast. Your hear the hum, Lad? Ah, then turn away. The plow still waits, but you can hold you head The higher, knowing that you grasp the hand Of all the world upon this throbbing wire.
Cowgill 108 Bibliography Tennessee Valley Authority Act. 1933. http://www.tva.gov/abouttva/pdf/TVA_Act.pdf TVA Website:
Cowgill 109 Johnson, Jim (Latour, Bruno). 1988. Mixing Humans and Non-Humans Together: The Sociology of a Door-Closer. Social Problems 35(3):298-310 Latour, Bruno. 2005. Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-NetworkTheory Oxford University Press. New York, New York. Malmsheimer, Lonna M. Three Mile Island: Fact, Frame, and Fiction. American Quarterly. 38(1): 35-52. Merrill, Karen R. 2007. The Oil Crisis of 1973-1974: A Brief History with Documents. The Bedford Series In History And Culture. Boston, Ma. Nye, David E. 1997. Electrifying America: Social Meanings of New Technology. The MIT Press. Cambridge, Massachusetts. Perrow, Charles. 1986. Complex Organizations: A Critical Essay. Mc-Graw Hill. Pritchett, C. H. 1937. "The Tennessee Valley Authority as a Government Corporation." Social Forces 16(1):120-120. Selznick, Phillip. 1949. TVA and the Grass Roots: A Study of Politics and Organization. University of California Press. Berkeley, California. Weber, Max. 2009. The Protestant Ethics and the Spirit of Capitalism. Oxford University Press. NewYork, New York.