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Small Component,
Big Impact

Nuclear power plant containment structures are entirely sealed off constructions designed to safely contain the nuclear reactor. In order to keep the radioactive high-energy source controlled, electrical and instrumentation cables are needed through the containment structure to provide power, control signals and monitoring for the reactor.

Electrical Penetration Assemblies (EPA) provide a leak-tight pass-through for power, control and instrumentation cables through the containment structure. It also maintains the pressure boundary integrity of the entire containment structure, especially during a severe accident.

According to international safety standards the containment must have a safety margin of 100%. However, the EPAs – an integral part of the containment wall – are only required to have a safety margin of 10%.

This contradiction in itself compromises the overall safety margin of the containment.

Can modern Nuclear Power Plant designs afford to compromise on safety?

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has, over the years, commissioned several research institutions such as those listed here, to investigate the importance and impact of this small component on nuclear safety.

Sandia National Laboratories
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Oak Ridge National Laboratory
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Brookhaven National Laboratory