Explosions at Nuclear Power Plants

Gao ID: EMD-78-99 August 4, 1978

Since 1971, about 50 gas explosions have been reported at the boiling water nuclear power plants. These explosions have caused degradation and failure of off-gas systems, radiation exposure and other injuries to personnel, physical damage to facilities, and lost revenues during reactor shutdowns for repair. In spite of the fact that the problem and actions which would minimize it have been known for some time, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has taken action on operating plants only after incidents have occurred. The explosion at Millstone might have been prevented by ventilation of the stack area. Recent actions by NRC, when implemented, will minimize the chances of gas explosion, but according to NRC present plans, it will take up to 1 year before corrective actions are implemented at all facilities. The Chairman, NRC, should accelerate the process for requiring and implementing the actions aimed at minimizing gas explosions at nuclear power plants. These actions should include ventilation of closed areas, ensuring seal integrity, and protection of piping from ignition sources.

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