Arkansas Nuclear One: Pictures of an Accident

, former director, Nuclear Safety Project | February 3, 2015, 6:00 am EDT
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Fission Stories #181

The drop of a heavy load at the Arkansas Nuclear One nuclear plant on March 31, 2013, was described in Fission Stories #139 based largely on the report on the accident by the NRC’s augmented inspection team. The NRC recently released hundreds of photographs taken of the heavy load, the damage it inflicted when dropped, and the extensive repairs undertaken at the plant.

I reviewed the photographs and selected approximately three dozen to illustrate this accident and its recovery. These photographs along with explanatory captions are in the ANO stator drop event report available for viewing and downloading.

Our Takeaway

Our takeaway now is the same as expressed in Fission Stories #139:

Gravity never takes a minute off. Neither can safety vigilance or tragedy can occur.


“Fission Stories” is a weekly feature by Dave Lochbaum. For more information on nuclear power safety, see the nuclear safety section of UCS’s website and our interactive map, the Nuclear Power Information Tracker.

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  • jharragi

    When leafing through the photos, I couldn’t help but wonder, what if those mangled beams were neighboring the fuel pool support structure​ and caused break in the pool. During a maintenance outage, it almost certainly was being loaded with a fresh load of irradiated fuel waste.

    Accidents happen – its a frightening thought…

  • rcstupka

    My conclusion is that Mr. Lochbaum is an idiot. A root cause analysis would likely identify substandard manufacture of the temporary lifting device and subsequent failure of that device as the cause of the accident. No action or technique employed by the Arkansas I team contributed to the failure, yet the UCS somehow equates this non-nuclear incident with NUCLEAR operations. NO SUCH THING. Lifting failures in construction occur all-too-frequently. Oh, and what about the fatality? Nothing was said about how that occurred. Was it possibly the fault of the Arkansas I staff, or the subcontractor placing personnel in an unsafe environment for the lift? Talk about missing the boat and the important lessons of the accident! “Gravity does not take a holiday?!” What are you, Issac Newton’s younger dumber brother?

    • jharragi

      I too thought Dave was running low on material. Then I remembered this:

      This happened a mile or so from Indian Point… Pretty low probability that something like this would bring the plant disaster. On the other hand, the management at Arkansas One probably chose the low bidder – without a proper engineering review. There is a much higher probability that this brings catastrophe – especially when you consider those financial and human factors played a roll at each Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima.

      One more thing, we are all dumber than Newton!