by Will Davis
Photo showing the TVA Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant under construction at the end of the 1960’s. This was TVA’s first nuclear plant, which attained some notoriety for having been ordered in what previously had been considered “coal country.”
Another, modern-day report has come out which in part discusses the problems encountered in nuclear plant construction – and discusses some suggested fixes for these. I welcome such research and reporting, but I have begun to wonder how many people realize that all of these studies have been done before and, more importantly, that the conclusions of those studies apply exactly to today’s situation.
What situation is that? It’s a situation where there is no established or “up and running” nuclear engineering and construction industry. Sure, there are firms with these things advertised over their doors, but we need to realize that nuclear plant orders here in this country halted in 1978, and construction dragged on only through the 1980’s for the most part. There is a swath of time breaking that early design-build-redesign feedback loop so vital to success, but it’s a swath that doesn’t block some of the findings of that earlier, “First Nuclear Era” wherein nuclear construction started to come off the tracks.
While it’s possible to review this earlier knowledge from many angles, for the start to this look back I’m going to consult a remarkable set of documents: A complete set of the annual US Atomic Energy Commission reports entitled “The Nuclear Industry.” Each year a new volume was produced with a great amount of detail and analysis of the events of the year prior; each volume had the stated title plus a stated year of coverage. This series ran from 1964 through 1974, although it was not published for 1972. We can leaf through the pages of
by Will Davis