U.S. Reactor Containment Technology: a Compilation of Current Practice in Analysis, Design, Construction, Test, and Operation, Volume 1 Page: 1-42
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at which most of the units operate limit the fission-product inventory
to such an extent that large quantities of contaminants cannot be re-
leased even if an accident occurs.
1.4 GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF CONTAINMENT SYSTEMS
Reactor containment is usually the final safety device in the com-
plex system provided for the protection of the life and property of the
public from all possible effects of a reactor accident. The containment
structure encloses the reactor and (usually) the entire primary reactor
system in such a fashion as to control, in conjunction with other engineer-
ing safeguards of demonstrable reliability, the dispersal of activity to
acceptable levels in the event of a maximum credible reactor accident.
The containment structure thus defined may take many different sizes and
shapes, have a wide range of design requirements, have various materials
of construction, and be based upon many different operating requirements.
Nevertheless, whether it looks like a pressure vessel or just another
industrial building, whether designed for 200 psig or 2 psig, if it is
capable of limiting the consequences of the reactor maximum credible ac-
cident (mca), it constitutes a containment system or a part thereof.
There are three basically different types of containment system and
many variations of each of these three types. A specific containment sys-
tem may contain features of more than one basic type so that it becomes
hard to characterize it. The three general types are distinguishable by
how they treat the primary and secondary fluids released in the accident
and are known as (1) pressure (or vapor) containment, (2) pressure-suppres-
sion containment, and (3) pressure-release containment. In addition to
containment systems that are a cross of some of the above the use of more
than one containment barrier or system in series on a single nuclear in-
stallation has recently given rise to the designation "multiple contain-
ment." The general characteristics of each of these systems is discussed
below. Detailed data on specific examples of each of these are presented
in Chapter 7.
1.4.1 Pressure Containment
In the simple pressure-containment system, all the energy released
in the reactor maximum credible accident (mca) is contained in a pressure-
containment structure that encloses the reactor. The structure usually
also encloses all of the primary system and frequently much of the secon-
dary. Although these structures generally have many lines that penetrate
the containing membrane, all such lines that might constitute a signifi-
cant leak at the time of the mca are equipped with one or more valves
that close to complete the isolation of the contained volume.
Pressure-containment structures are frequently steel but are not nec-
essarily limited to this material. Steel-lined concrete containment ves-
sels have been used and some forms of underground concrete-lined containers
may be designed as a pressure-containment system. It is of interest to
note that the containment pressure may range from a few pounds to over a
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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/m1/70/: accessed March 22, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.