Gerald W. Brown
Gerald W. Brown was the original whistleblower of the Thermo-Lag 330-1 scandal [ [http://www.nrc.gov/reactors/operating/ops-experience/fire-protection/fire-barriers.html NRC treatise on the subject] ] , which involved an
endothermicmaterial manufactured by Thermal Science Inc., also doing business as Nu-Chem, Inc., and. most recently, as TS Holdings Inc., of St. Louis, Missouri, still marketing product under the Thermo-Lag name. Thermo-Lag was used to provide circuit integrityto wiring running between the nuclear reactors and the control rooms within the power stations. The purposeof the circuit integrity designs was to ensure that in the event of a fire, the wiring remain operable, so that operators could shut down the reactors in order to prevent a nuclear meltdown.
Mr. Brown discovered and disclosed to the
Nuclear Regulatory Commission(NRC) that the fire testing used to qualify Thermo-Lag was not adequate. By the time of the disclosure, many licensed and operating plants had already installed this product. The NRC as well as a number of its affected licensees confirmed in fire testing that the installed configurations did not provide the mandated minimum level of protection and promptly communicated this fact to its licensees, who were subsequently required to remedy the situation by either replacing the product with one that did work or by overlaying the product with one that did. It also established a new and more stringent test procedure for qualifying circuit integrityproducts.
The NRC does not mandate the use of
product certification, as is commonplace in commercial, industrial or residential constructionproducts of this type.
The NRC fined Thermal Science Inc. $900,000. [ [http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/enforcement/actions/non-licensees/ea95009.html NRC: Thermal Science Notice of Violation] ] TSI refuted the NRC's claims and the NRC responded negatively [ [http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/enforcement/actions/non-licensees/ea95009o.html NRC: Thermal Science Monetary Penalties] ] for its part of the problem but wound up settling out of court for $300,000 [ [http://www.geocities.com/astximw/endothermic.html Endothermic Products ] ] with neither side yielding to the other side’s point of view.
Browns Ferry Unit 1 fire (1975)
An object lesson in the critical importance of proper fireproofing of nuclear facilities was learned in the Brown's Ferry 1 fire, which was directly caused by combustion of highly improper (extremely flammable) firestop materials, leading to the control, communications, and telemetry/data links between the control room and the reactor core being severed, thus causing the operators to no longer be able to exercise direct control over the nuclear reactor. Fortunately, the operators and other staff were able to use other controls to safely shut down the reactor.
This accident was rated by the
Nuclear Regulatory Commissionas having resulted in a 20% possibility of core damage, the highest probability of core damage incident that any US commercial nuclear plant has had [cite web
title=Results, Trends, and Insights from the Accident Sequence Precursor (ASP) Program
author=Reyes, Luis A., Executive Director for Operations
Portable Document Format
work=Status of the Accident Sequence Precursor (ASP) Program and the Development of Standardized Plant Analysis Risk (SPAR) Models, Commission Papers Series (SECY-2005-0192)
Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Federal Government, United States of America
quote=Brown's Ferry 1; CDP/CCDP: 2 x 10-1; 3/22/75; Cable tray fire] (excluding
Three Mile Island, where actual core damage, but no substantial release of radioactivity occurred.). Following this incident, already strict standards regarding passive fireproofing in nuclear facilities were significantly tightened.
Gerald W. Brown also highlighted issues [ [http://www.ccnr.org/nucaware_foam_pr.html Flammable 'Firestops' Used in CANDU Reactors ] ] with the use of
siliconefoam firestops in the United Statesand Canadathat were not installed in accordance with appropriate certification listings. In Canada, he further pointed out inadequacies with regards to circuit integritynot installed in accordance with appropriate certification listings in Canadian nuclear power plants, which included single-sided fire barriers for three-dimensional cable trays. The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commissiondoes not require product certification.
Front for fire protection whistleblowers
Gerald W. Brown founded the Fire Protection Defense League, [ [http://www.freewebs.com/fpdleague/index.htm Fire Protection Defense League | ] ] as a front for other whistleblowers concerned with
fire protectionissues. Through the help of Canadian members, FPDL and Gerald W. Brown publicised generic fire protection deficiencies in Canada concerning firestops and grease ductsystems.
Gerald W. Brown spent much of his career as a firestop contractor. Since becoming a whistleblower, his fire protection work came to an end. He has since been involved in farming and is now working on a project involving the commercial uses of
peatand wood pelletsas energy sources in Minnesota.
Nuclear safety in the United States
* [http://www.ontla.on.ca:80/web/committee-proceedings/committee_transcripts_details.do?locale=en&Date=1997-10-27&ParlCommID=828&BillID=&Business=Hydro+Stakeholders Proceedings of the Select Committee on Ontario Hydro Nuclear Affairs involving fire protection items raised by Gerald W. Brown]
* [http://www.nirs.org/press/10-02-1996/1 Nuclear Information and Resource Service Publication about Thermo-Lag Issue, identifying Gerald W. Brown as source]
Nuclear Information and Resource Service
* [http://www.alternet.org/envirohealth/19488/ Alternet.org treatise on nuclear fire protection issues, identifying Gerald W. Brown as the original source]
* [http://www.nrc.gov/reactors/operating/ops-experience/fire-protection/fire-protection-files/ml023010376.pdf NRC document on circuit integrity and Thermo-Lag issue]
* [http://www.nirs.org/reactorwatch/mox/nirsmcguirecatawbacontentions.htm NIRS Reactorwatch]
* [http://www.ccnr.org/nucaware_foam_pr.html ccnr.org] Representative
Ed Markey's Statements concerning flammable firestops
* [http://www.gsenet.org/library/11gsn/1998/gs81215-.php Garden State EnviroNet Statement on NRC Silicone Foam Issues]
* [http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/gen-comm/info-notices/1988/in88056.html USNRC Information Notice 88-56]
* [http://www10.antenna.nl/wise/index.html?http://www10.antenna.nl/wise/601/5566.php WISE Netherlands Statement on FIRE PROTECTION VIOLATIONS AT U.S. NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS]
* [http://www.tsholdingusa.com/1.htm TSI/Nu-Chem/TS Holdings history]
* [http://www10.antenna.nl/wise/index.html?http://www10.antenna.nl/wise/376/brief.html WISE update on Thermo-Lag Scandal]
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