Alert: Nuclear Power Plant in Puerto Rico Hit by Hurricane Maria (Video)
The decommissioned Boiling Nuclear Superheater (BONUS) reactor, located northwest of Rincón, Puerto Rico, was developed as a prototype nuclear power plant to investigate the technical and economic feasibility of the integral boiling- superheating concept.
This small-scale nuclear reactor produced saturated steam in the central portion of the reactor core, superheated it in four surrounding “superheater” sections of the same core, and then used the superheated steam in a direct loop to drive a turbine generator.
It was one of only two boiling-water superheater reactors ever developed in the United States. The reactor was designed to be large enough to evaluate the major features of the integral boiling-superheating concept realistically without the high construction and operating costs associated with a large plant.
ALERT! Nuclear Power Plant in Puerto Rico Hit by Hurricane Maria
Source Mary Greeley
The reactor first achieved a controlled nuclear chain reaction on April 13, 1964.
The nuclear materials are still stored on site.
The Puerto Rico Water Resources Authority decommissioned the reactor between 1969 and 1970. During decommissioning, all special nuclear materials (fuel) and certain highly activated components remaining in the structure were isolated or shielded to protect site visitors and workers. During subsequent years, more radioactive contamination was identified in portions of the building, and additional cleanup and shielding activities were conducted in the 1990s and early 2000s.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), as the successor agency to the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, and in accordance with the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, holds title to and is responsible for the radioactive materials that remain at the BONUS site.
The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), as the successor agency to the Puerto Rico Water Resources Authority, owns the land, buildings, and other improvements. Responsibilities for the long-term surveillance and maintenance of the site are established for DOE and PREPA through a Letter of Agreement between DOE Office of Legacy Management (LM) and PREPA for the use, maintenance, and control of the BONUS facility.
Puerto Rico’s power grid was already in bad shape even before the 2017 hurricane season. PREPA’s power plants are 44 years old on average, reports Reuters — in contrast with the industry-wide average of 18 years. The nuclear site is over 53 year old.
The company, which filed for bankruptcy in July, called its own system “degraded and unsafe,” saying in a fiscal plan released this April that “years of under-investment have led to severe degradation of infrastructure,” according to Reuters.
This site is over 53 years old. Rusting, and falling apart before the hurricane even hit.
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