When commercial nuclear power was getting its start in the 1960s and 1970s, industry and regulators stated unequivocally that reactors were designed only to operate for 40 years. Now they tell another story — insisting that the units were built with no inherent life span, and can run for up to a century, an Associated Press investigation shows.
Regulators and industry now contend that the 40-year limit was chosen for economic reasons and to satisfy antitrust concerns, not for safety issues. They contend that a nuclear plant has no technical limit on its life.
But an AP review of historical records, along with interviews with engineers who helped develop nuclear power, shows just the opposite: Reactors were made to last only 40 years. Period.
In 1982, D. Clark Gibbs, chairman of the licensing and safety committee of an early industry group, wrote to the NRC that “most nuclear power plants, including those operating, under construction or planned for the future, are designed for a duty cycle which corresponds to a 40-year life.”
And three years later, when Illinois Power Co. sought a license for its Clinton station, utility official D.W. Wilson told the NRC on behalf of his company’s nuclear licensing department that “all safety margins were established with the understanding of the limitations that are imposed by a 40-year design life.”
Weeeeelllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllp. I am not a nuclear power alarmist, but shit like this does not help your credibility at all guys. Really. Cut it out.
Also, thumbs up to the Associated Press National Investigative Team for doing actual, real reporting on an issue related to nuclear power.