Throwback Thursday — Dresden Takes Shape

DresdenVesselIndicative of private industry’s growing participation in the atomic energy field was this new $20 million Babcock and Wilcox Company plant in Mt. Vernon, Indiana. The first job for the plant was the fabrication of the 800-ton vessel for the Dresden Unit No. 2 reactor. (Photo courtesy of the Department of Energy.)

So, you nuclear historians, what year was this?

Author: Moderator

Public Affairs Officer for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

7 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday — Dresden Takes Shape”

  1. When I think of the name Dresden what comes to mind for this old guy is the 2/14/45 horrific slaughter of 135,000 civilians in Dresden, Germany, very near the end of WWII in Europe. Allied bombers dropped incendiary bombs that caused a firestorm in the town. There were military targets in Dresden but their significance is debatable. BTW, the final death toll from the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima on 8/6/45 was also 135,000.
    Now let’s get to the Dresden Nuclear Power Plants (NPPs). Units 2 & 3 were granted 20-year life extensions by the NRC around 8 years ago I believe. They will now operate for 60 years and just beyond 2030. Being near Chicago evidently had no bearing on the NRC’s decision to grant the Dresden NPP life extensions. Over 7,000,000 folks live within the 50-mile Emergency Planning Zone around the Dresden units. Based on this NRC action, approving a license extension for NPPs in the backyard of New York City should be a slam dunk for the NRC. Yes the Indian Point units near NYC only have 10,000,000 folks in potential harm’s way in the event of an accident there. This life-extension business for ancient NPPs located near large population centers is foolhardy in my opinion. There is no way the NRC would even consider approving new license applications for NPPs (with the latest safety features) to be located anywhere near large metropolitan areas. Furthermore, even if there is a false alarm at these plants and an evacuation order is issued by mistake people die just from the evacuation process. Over 1,000 Japanese people have died just because they had to leave their homes. Old and handicapped folks are the ones who are primarily affected. Some folks die just from depression and hopelessness because they have no idea when or even if they can ever return to their homes.
    When will the NRC put public safety first?!

  2. Thanks for the history lesson on Dresden Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) Unit #2. May I add that there was a Dresden Unit #1 that operated for 18 years before it was shutdown in 1978. That was pretty good run for a first generation NPP. Dresden 1 was the first privately financed NPP. It is noted with pride by its owner that Dresden 1 was “built without government funding”. However, what is not noted is that Dresden 1, like all NPPs built since then, would only be a competitive source of electricity if they were uninsured. Try operating your vehicle without liability insurance. “Going naked” should be reserved for nudists not nuclear power plants. To be fair there is some insurance protection that has been provided for US nuclear plants but it is woefully inadequate. Most countries with NPPs do go naked on insurance. For example, the Japanese nuclear utility had no disaster insurance when disaster struck after a devastating earthquake and tsunami.
    Germany estimated that a worst case NPP accident could result in damages totaling 11 trillion dollars. Yes that’s trillion with a “t”! The last time I checked the US national debt is around 18 trillion dollars. Germany provides just 3.7 billion in reactor insurance (yes that’s only billions with a “b”). It is said that the 3.7 billion dollars would be just enough to buy stamps for the letters of condolence. US NPPs must carry only 375 million dollars of insurance. Further insurance claims are funded by all NPPs but that is capped at 12.6 billion dollars. Guess who is responsible for all the likely claims beyond that?! US taxpayers, that’s who!

  3. Q. How long did it take to fully decommission this plant (if it has been completely done) and at what cost? Thanks.

  4. I worked here in 1966 with B&W at the Mt. Vernon plant from 1964 to 1976. Ah, the good old days.

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