Shippingport Atomic Power Station

The Shippingport Atomic Power Station was opened by President Eisenhower on May 26, 1958, to be used exclusively for peacetime. It was located on the Ohio River in Pennsylvania, near the current location of the Beaver Valley station. The site is about twenty five miles from Pittsburgh. The Shippingport atomic power station went online on the second of December in 1957. It operated for twenty five years until decommissioning on October 1, 1982. This power station was operated under Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, who was later influential with the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission.

One of the reactor’s purposes was to be a prototype for generating electrical power for commercial purposes. It was also used for powering aircraft carriers. The power station was changed to become a Pressurized Light-Water Breeder in 1977. The output that the reactor was capable of was 60 MWe. This is significantly less than the 1,000 MWe that most nuclear reactors are designed to output. It was moderated with light water and had a thermal breeder reactor. The reactor was noted for having the ability to transmute Thorium 232 to Uranium 233.

Asbestos may have been used in the construction of the Shippingport Atomic Power Station. Nuclear power plants contain miles of piping, many of which need to withstand extreme temperatures. These were often insulated with asbestos because of its ability to resist fire and heat. It also has chemical resistance and insulating properties. Airborne asbestos is very dangerous to humans and is known to cause cancer and other deadly diseases. Being exposed to asbestos for long periods of time is shown to be dangerous, though even short periods of exposure have been linked to asbestos-related disease.

The decommissioning of Shippingport Atomic Power Station began in September of 1985. This decommissioning is often used as a success story by people who promote nuclear power because it was cleaned up effectively and the site has since been released for unrestricted use. The neutron shield/pressure vessel tank assembly was removed from the building it was contained in during December 1988. It weighed 98 tons. The assembly was loaded for transportation and shipped to a burial site located in the state of Washington. The cleanup cost about 98 million dollars.