The origins of The Reactor Safety Study

September 10, 2021, 8:22AMUpdated December 31, 2021, 7:15AMNuclear NewsThomas R. Wellock
An aerial view of the Hanford reservation and Columbia River that shows the N (nearest), KE/KW (center), and B (top right) reactors. (Photo: U.S. DOE )

As 2021 closes, Nuclear News is taking a look back at some of the feature articles published each month in the magazine. The September issue took an in-depth look into Probabilistic Risk Assessments with multiple articles reviewing the subject and how PRA can benefit nuclear reactor safety. The first article (below) provided a detailed review of the AEC Reactor Safety Study, also known as the WASH-1400 report.

In March 1972, Stephen Hanauer, a technical advisor with the Atomic Energy Commission, met with Norman Rasmussen, a nuclear engineering professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The AEC had recruited Rasmussen to develop a report, The Reactor Safety Study (WASH-1400), to estimate the probabilities and consequences of a major nuclear power plant accident. With thousands of safety components in a modern reactor, the task was mind-boggling. Rasmussen proposed a novel approach based on more powerful computers, “fault tree” methodology, and an expanding body of operational data. By calculating and aggregating probabilities for innumerable failure chains of components, he believed he could develop a meaningful estimate of overall accident risk. WASH-1400 would be a first-of-its-kind probabilistic risk assessment (PRA).

First complete accident tolerant fuel assembly in operation at Calvert Cliffs

November 9, 2021, 3:32PMNuclear News
Framatome’s PROtect accident tolerant fuel assembly undergoes final inspection before delivery to Exelon’s Calvert Cliffs-2 in Lusby, Md.

The nuclear industry’s first 100 percent accident tolerant fuel assembly is in operation at Exelon Generation’s Calvert Cliffs plant, the Department of Energy announced yesterday. The advanced fuel will operate in the reactor for the next four to six years and will be routinely inspected to monitor its performance, the DOE said.

Located in Lusby, Md., Calvert Cliffs houses two pressurized water reactors. Unit 1 is rated at 907 Mwe, and Unit 2 at 881 Mwe.

Framatome declares ATF test at Vogtle a success

February 8, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear News

The $111.2 million in financial assistance awarded by the Department of Energy in late 2018 to nuclear fuel developers Framatome, General Electric, and Westinghouse for the development of accident tolerant fuel has yielded some encouraging results.

Framatome reports that the first 18-month fuel cycle test of its GAIA Enhanced Accident Tolerant Fuel (EATF) technology, conducted at Southern Nuclear’s Vogtle-2, has “demonstrated expected results and excellent performance.”

And last month, Westinghouse announced that the topical report on its Advanced Doped Pellet Technology fuel has been accepted for review by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, calling the decision “a major achievement for the advanced fuel portfolio Westinghouse is developing.”

Fuel innovation: Powering nuclear modernization

January 18, 2021, 9:35AMNuclear NewsBen Holtzman

Today’s U.S. commercial nuclear power plants are fueled with uranium dioxide pressed into cylindrical ceramic pellets—and have been for decades. These pellets are stacked inside long fuel rods made of a zirconium alloy cladding. Innovation in nuclear fuel, however, can improve safety, reduce operating costs, and further enable the development of a new generation of non-light-water reactors.

Rosatom, Framatome, and GE partner on proposed Bulgarian nuclear plant

June 22, 2020, 11:38AMNuclear News

Rosatom, Russia’s state-owned atomic energy corporation, announced on June 18 that it has teamed up with France’s Framatome and General Electric’s GE Steam Power to participate in a tender to construct the Belene nuclear plant in northern Bulgaria. The Belene project would involve the construction of two AES-92 units, similar to the reactors that Rosatom supplied to India.