- The Washington Times - Monday, August 16, 2010


The oil and gas industry needs to put safety first, once and for all. Plans to establish a large spill-response organization and the idea of forming a self-policing agency similar to the one that monitors the safety of nuclear power plants are welcome. They represent at an industry level the accountability that Philip R. Clark, head of the decade-long recovery from the Three Mile Island accident, promoted as a necessary ingredient for individual leaders at the plant level.

As president of GPU Nuclear Corp. from 1983 to 1995, Mr. Clark urged the industry to attract and retain people of character with “the ability to set and adhere to standards despite external pressures.”

Writing on the lessons from Three Mile Island accident, Mr. Clark said the question nuclear managers and workers must ask is, “What is the right thing to do?” not “Is the regulation being met?” In other words, complying with rules is not automatically sufficient.

Though he was an engineer, Mr. Clark held that even with the highly engineered and redundant safety systems of nuclear plants, “extraordinary care and attention” were required to guard against potentially disastrous accidents. For him, personal character was a first line of defense for safe operations. He articulated the vision for his company as “meeting the energy challenge with leadership and integrity.”

As a citizen champion of the oil and gas industry, I’m hoping the Phil Clarks of the industry are busy in the background pushing their visions and values. I wouldn’t mind if a few came forward.


New Cumberland, Pa.

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