Flammable 'Firestops' Used in CANDU Reactors

Nuclear Awareness Project

Box 104 Uxbridge, ON L9P 1M6
905-852-0571 (phone/fax) (e-mail)

Media Release                         Wednesday, May 14, 1997

Controversy in the U.S. over the use of silicone foam as "firestops" in nuclear stations has escalated, and is spreading across the border into Canada. U.S. Congressman Edward Markey has requested that the NRC (the Nuclear Regulatory Commission -- the U.S. equivalent of the Canadian Atomic Energy Control Board) explain its "negligence" on the silicone foam issue. Representative Markey stated:

The NRC identified silicone foam as combustible in 1979, then identified installation problems in 1988, and labelled the use of silicone foam a "generic" issue in 1990. However, the NRC has not produced regulations requiring nuclear station operators to address the issue.

Nuclear Awareness Project has confirmed, through a Freedom of Information request, that silicone foam is used as a firestop in CANDU reactors in Ontario to plug pipe and cable openings (in order to stop the spread of fire between rooms). A fire test at Underwriter's Laboratories of Canada in October 1996 confirmed concerns about the combustibility of silicone foam. Silicone foam firestops are made by Down Corning. Nuclear Awareness Project spokesperson Irene Kock stated:

In Canada, nuclear station operators are responsible for their own fire inspections. The 1996 Peer Review of the Pickering "A" Nuclear station noted:

Similarly, in its reply to the Freedom of Information request, Ontario Hydro stated:

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For further information:

Ms. Michal Freedhoff (Rep. Markey's office, Washington, D.C.)
202-225-2836 -- media release and letter to NRC available

Irene Kock, Nuclear Awareness Project (Uxbridge, ON)
905-852-0571 -- fire test results and other background available

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