When he was a member of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy in the late 1960s, U.S. Rep. Craig Hosmer declared that "power companies expect nuclear generating stations to last 30 years."
Nuclear physicist Ralph Lapp, an advocate of atomic power, predicted a 25-year life span.
One person who should know the real story is engineering professor Richard T. Lahey Jr., at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y. Lahey once served in the nuclear Navy. Later, in the early 1970s, he helped design reactors for General Electric Co.; he oversaw safety research and development.
Lahey dismisses claims that reactors were made with no particular life span. "These reactors were really designed for a certain lifetime," he said. "What they're saying is really a fabrication."
And nuclear engineer Bill Corcoran, who worked for plant designer Combustion Engineering, said certain features were specifically created with 40 years in mind, like the reactor vessel, which holds the radioactive fuel. He said metals were calculated to hold up against fatigue for that long. Concrete containment buildings had to be strong enough to last that long.
No one analyzed if they could last much longer.
[link to www.msnbc.msn.com
- 'Oyster Creek' in New Jersey, Creak as the locals call it, BWR was commissioned in 1969. Oldest operating in US. Just renewed until 2029.