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A containment failure: How American nuclear regulators undercut power plant safety from the beginning

Bulletin of Atomic Scientists 4th May 2018 , In 1965, the US Atomic Energy Commission made a fateful decision to license
nuclear power plants that, top safety experts believed, had containment structures that were inadequate to contain dangerous releases of
radioactivity in the case of core-melting accidents.

It was a critical turning point in reactor safety. The AEC’s downgrading of the containment’s role opened the door to smaller, cheaper, “dynamic”
containments, which offered significantly less protection in case of a fuel melt accident. Buyers of nearly four dozen large US power reactors opted
for the most vulnerable of such containments, of which 30 remain in

Because of their inadequate containments, they should all be retired. All but one have exceeded their original 40-year license
durations. New plants shouldn’t be licensed unless they include containments that actually do what they were originally supposed to do –
contain all radioactive material, even in a worst-case melt-down of a nuclear reactor core.


May 4, 2018 - Posted by | safety, USA

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