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Examination of Three Mile Island Unit 2 Core Materials at Commissariat À L’Energie Atomique

Jacques Duco, Maria Trotabas

Nuclear Technology

Volume 87 / Number 1 / August 1989 / Pages 104-119


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In the framework of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development/Committee on the Safety of Nuclear Installations Task Group on Three Mile Island Unit 2 (TMI-2), the Commissariat ??? I’Energie Atomique examined five samples retrieved from the damaged reactor core: a slightly damaged fuel rod chunk from assembly L1 of the core external row, a rod remnant in position C7 hanging from the assembly head, and three core bore rocks from both the ceramic and agglomerate regions of the damaged core. The analyses include visual observation, immersion density, metallography, wavelength dispersive X-ray analysis, X-ray diffraction, thermogravimetry, gamma spectroscopy, and neutron activation analysis. The information gained provides assessments of the maximum local temperatures reached during the accident, an insight into a possible fuel degradation mechanism for the rod in position C7, and information on fission product and control or structural material behavior. Such data, involving a small number of samples, will be added to those from other contributing laboratories to obtain an extensive data base, to try to understand the TMI-2 accident, and, presumably, to avoid the recurrence of a core melt on the basis of lessons to be learned.

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