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U.S. Nuclear Reactors

Browns Ferry Unit 3

Decatur, Alabama
Local population: 34,794 (10-mile radius)


Boiling Water Reactor


Licensed to operate from 08/18/76-07/02/36


Tennessee Valley Authority

Safety Issues:

Elevated Spent Fuel Pool, Fire Protection Problems, Flooding Hazard, Groundwater Leaks Reported, Heightened NRC Attention, Year Plus Outages

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Related Links & Documents

12/05/2012   An All Things Nuclear blog post commended the owner for upgrading the emergency sirens used to warn the public in event of an accident.

05/18/2012   Fission Stories #98 chronicled the NRC’s granting another year for the owner to try to achieve compliance with federal fire protection regulations – “requirements” enacted by the NRC way back in 1980 following a fire at Browns Ferry.

09/18/2006   UCS documented the factors leading to the year-plus reactor outage that began in March 1985 in this case study for our Walking a Nuclear Tightrope report.  See details | Download the pdf

09/18/2006   UCS documented the causes and corrective actions for the year-plus reactor outage that began in September 1983 in this case study for our Walking a Nuclear Tightrope report.  See details | Download the pdf

05/23/1982   Fission Stories #60 explained how workers seeking to remedy air leaking from the pneumatic supply to the control rod drive system replaced single o-rings with two or more o-rings. This “fix” stopped the leakage, but it also slowed the venting of the pneumatic supply system when desired to allow rapid control rod insertion to shut down a wayward reactor.

09/17/1980   Fission Stories #89 described the brinksmanship between the NRC and TVA. After the NRC proposed a $29,000 fine on TVA for a safety violation at Browns Ferry, TVA responded that it was illegal for NRC to fine another federal agency like TVA.

06/28/1980   Fission Stories #107 described how 76 of the 185 control rods failed to insert into the reactor core during a planned shut down of the reactor. It took four tries and 15 minutes to get all the control rods to insert.

11/28/1978  Fission Stories #35 describes how workers mistakenly re-connected over 100 instruments used to monitor the power levels throughout the reactor core, causing the plant’s computer to think that the top of the core was its bottom and vice versa.