U.S. Reactor Containment Technology: a Compilation of Current Practice in Analysis, Design, Construction, Test, and Operation, Volume 1 Page: 1-03
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was first attained in this country by the use of large exclusion areas
surrounding the first reactor installations. Thus, in 1943 the Clinton
pile was located in a portion of a 60,000-acre restricted area in Tennessee,
designated Oak Ridge, the graphite production reactors were located in an
even larger restricted area, designated Hanford, in the Washington desert
near the Columbia River, and the National Reactor Testing Station was estab-
lished in the desert of Idaho. In each of these instances the distance
from the reactors to the site boundary was intended to permit adequate
control (i.e., reduction) of any activity that might be accidentally re-
leased. The required size of controlled (exclusion) areas generally dic-
tated locations in remote areas.
Several things have occurred to change this picture. Most prominent
of these is the fact that location in remote areas is not compatible with
today's need to provide electric power for our industrial complexes, since
this need implies location near heavily populated areas. The use of re-
actors in marine propulsion systems may also bring power reactors nearer
to population centers. In addition, there is an increasing desire and need
to use reactors for experiments and research. In fact, the first so-called
"containment vessel," which was located at the West Milton facility of the
Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory, was conceived because of a desire to con-
duct large-scale experiments on power reactors near the Laboratory rather
than at the National Reactor Testing Station in Idaho.
For reactors not located in remote areas the philosophy of public
protection required, first, a thorough examination of the circumstances
and conditions under which initial loss of control of the radioactive
material inventory might arise. Since it was generally found impossible
to guarantee absolutely the absence of either an accident or the release
of the radioactive materials from the multiple series of containers nor-
mally present, e.g., fuel elements, cladding, reactor pressure vessel, and
piping, an additional container usually was provided around the reactor
complex. This additional container was first envisioned as a static pres-
sure envelope with few penetrations and with appropriate pressure and
leakage specification to contain any accident without exceeding a given
leakage requirement related to the activity to be contained and the site
From these rudimentary concepts of containment, as exemplified by
the West Milton sphere, containment practice has gone on to the use of dy-
namic containment structures in which a multiplicity of penetrations must
be closed at the time of the accident in order to effect the "leak-tight"
enclosure and to more complicated versions that attempt to reduce accident
pressures or to directly return leakage to the containment by additional
outer barriers and pumping circuits. Also of significance in the evolu-
tion of containment systems and philosophy are the recent efforts to estab-
lish a reasonable upper boundary on some of the inherent release and
transport phenomena, which also act to limit the public exposures that
might result from a reactor accident.
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Cottrell, William B. & Savolainen, A. W. U.S. Reactor Containment Technology: a Compilation of Current Practice in Analysis, Design, Construction, Test, and Operation, Volume 1, report, August 1965; Oak Ridge, Tennessee. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc101033/m1/31/: accessed March 21, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.