United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

The Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant Fire of 1975 Knowledge Management Digest (NUREG/KM-0002, Revision 1)

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Publication Information

Date Published: February 2014

Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, DC 20555-0001

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Fire events provide a unique source of historical data, but only when the lessons learned provide advancements in safety. When these lessons are learned but not preserved, they are often repeated.

The purpose of this knowledge management NUREG (NUREG/KM) and DVD is to preserve the history and impact of the fire at the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant (BFN) on regulations and to educate future generations of safety professionals. This is the second report in the NUREG/KM-Series.

Fire protection in commercial nuclear power plants (NPPs) has been a longstanding challenge since operations began. In the 1960s and 1970s, when most of today's nuclear power reactors were under construction, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC's) predecessor—the Atomic Energy Commission—began adopting rules and regulations to ensure fire safety. The first adopted fire protection regulation was General Design Criterion (GDC) 3, "Fire Protection," as Appendix A, "General Design Criteria for Nuclear Power Plants," of "Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR) Part 50, “Domestic Licensing of Production and Utilization Facilities," in February 1971. The GDC 3, in part, states that:

Structures, systems, and components important to safety shall be designed and located to minimize, consistent with other safety requirements, the probability and effect of fires and explosions. Noncombustible and heatresistant materials shall be used wherever practical throughout the unit, particularly in such locations as the containment and control room.

During this time, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) also developed several standards for fire protection safety in the nuclear industry. These first standards were:

  • IEEE 279-1971,"Criteria for Protection Systems for Nuclear Power Generating Stations"
  • IEEE 383-1974, "IEEE Standard for Type Test of Class 1E Electric Cables, Field Splices, and Connections for Nuclear Power Generating Stations"
  • IEEE 384-1974, "IEEE Standard Criteria for Independence of Class 1E Equipment and Circuits"

The NRC issued Regulatory Guide 1.75, "Physical Independence of Electric Systems," in February 1974, and provided the basis for complying with the IEEE 384-1974 standard.

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