Edwin E. Kintner, 90, dies; led Three Mile Island cleanup

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Edwin E. Kintner, 90, a Navy captain and nuclear engineer who later was responsible for the safety and cleanup of the Three Mile Island incident, died May 7 at an assisted living facility in Exeter, N.H. He had prostate cancer.

In the early 1980s, Capt. Kintner served as the executive vice president for General Public Utilities Nuclear, which owned the reactor that melted down during the Three Mile Island incident near Harrisburg, Pa., in March 1979. His task was to improve safety at the company's facilities and organize the cleanup effort at the meltdown site. Capt. Kintner sometimes spoke about how Three Mile Island's aftermath was a surprising gain for the nuclear industry.

"It was a good thing in that it provided a traumatic shock to all the institutions involved in nuclear energy applications -- a badly needed shock to make them aware of the special requirements for the safe use of this enormous new source of energy," he said in 1988. "It was a very useful event, one which could change the history of nuclear power and one which, I believe, in the end, changed it in a positive direction."

Capt. Kintner spent 21 years in the Navy, including 14 years working under Adm. Hyman Rickover, a notorious taskmaster known as the "father of the nuclear Navy." Capt. Kintner helped develop reactors for the USS Nautilus nuclear submarine development program.

After retiring from the Navy in 1963, Capt. Kintner had a second career working for the federal government overseeing nuclear programs for the Atomic Energy Commission and the Energy Department.

Edwin Earl Kintner was born May 1, 1920, in Paris, Ohio. He was a December 1941 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and served aboard a cruiser in the Pacific during World War II. He later received master's degrees in naval construction, ocean engineering and nuclear physics from MIT.

Survivors include his wife of 65 years, Alice Shoemaker Kintner, of Exeter; four children, Eric Kintner of Westford, Mass., John Kintner of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Peter Kintner of Park City, Utah, and Mary Kintner of Underhill, Vt.; a brother; and four grandchildren.

-- T. Rees Shapiro

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