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Metz on Harold Denton: Memories of a life in nuclear safety
A number of years ago, historian and writer Chuck Metz Jr. was at the Bush’s Visitor Center in Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains when he ran into former Nuclear Regulatory Commission official Harold Denton and his wife. Metz was at the visitor center, which opened in 2010 and is now a tourist hotspot, because, as he explained to the Dentons at the time, he had overseen the development of its on-site museum and had written a companion coffee-table history book.
The chance meeting turned into a friendship and a fruitful collaboration. Denton, who in 1979 was the public spokesperson for the NRC as the Three Mile Island-2 accident unfolded, had been working on his memoir, but he was stuck. He asked Metz for help with the organization and compilation of his notes. “I was about to retire,” Metz said, “but I thought that exploring the nuclear world might be an interesting change of pace.”
Denton passed away in 2017, but by then Metz had spent many hours with his fast friend and was able to complete the memoir, Three Mile Island and Beyond: Memories of a Life in Nuclear Safety, which was published recently by ANS. Metz shared some of his thoughts about Denton and the book with Nuclear News. The interview was conducted by NN’s David Strutz.
David Chandler, G. Ivan Maldonado, L. D. Proctor, R. T. Primm, III
Nuclear Technology | Volume 177 | Number 3 | March 2012 | Pages 395-412
Technical Paper | Radioisotopes | dx.doi.org/10.13182/NT12-A13483
Articles are hosted by Taylor and Francis Online.
The High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) located at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory utilizes a large annular beryllium reflector that is subdivided into three concentric regions and encompasses the compact reactor core. Nuclear transmutations caused by neutron activation occur in the beryllium reflector regions, which leads to unwanted neutron-absorbing and radiation-emitting isotopes. During the past year, two topics related to the HFIR beryllium reflector were reviewed. The first topic included studying the neutron poison (3He and 6Li) buildup in the reflector regions and its effect on beginning-of-cycle reactivity. A new methodology was developed to predict the reactivity impact and estimated symmetrical critical control element positions as a function of outage time between cycles due to 3He buildup and was shown to be in better agreement with actual symmetrical critical control element position data than the current methodology. The second topic included studying the composition of the beryllium reflector regions at discharge and during postdischarge decay to assess the viability of transporting, storing, and ultimately disposing of the reflector regions currently stored in the spent-fuel pool. The postirradiation curie inventories were used to determine whether, for disposal purposes, the reflector regions are discharged as transuranic (TRU) waste or become TRU waste during the decay period and to determine the nuclear hazard category, which may affect the controls invoked for transportation and temporary storage. Two of the reflector regions were determined to be TRU waste at discharge, and the other region was determined to become TRU waste <2 yr after being discharged due to irradiation of the initial uranium impurity content (0.0044 wt% uranium). It was also concluded that all three of the reflector regions could be classified as nuclear hazard category 3 (potential for localized consequences only).