By Alexi Patterson
Trojan Nuclear power plant was Oregon’s only commercial nuclear power plant. Portland General electricity started building in July 1968 and PGE received a site certificate in 1971. The plant cost $450 billion and began making commercial power on May 20, 1976, with a capacity of 1,130 megawatts. However, in 1977 PGE discovered Trojan had design flaws, such as walls missing crucial reinforcing. This lead to Trojan being shut down for eight months to finish upgrades that met federal earthquake protection standards.
Trojan began getting below average ratings in 1984, so they replaced the entire management and by 1990 they received strong ratings, even though they were fined $280,000 for their emergency core cooling system having problems. Not too soon after that Trojan started finding the cracks in the steam generator faster than they had thought would happen. This caused them to have to shut down for several months until they reopened in February. There was a ballot to close Trojan down prematurely but it was defeated. However, in August PGE said they would close Trojan prematurely for more repairs to be done.
One week after the vote a leak developed in a steam generator tube but was only able to be detected with extremely small, sensitive instruments. Since the leak was so small Trojan did not have to shut down to fix it but it caused a slight disagreement with the people. The longer Trojan stayed open and running the more people would hear about it which also meant the more people would start to get their own opinion on if it is safe or not. January 17, 1993 Trojan finally closed and was never allowed to open again.
According to the State of Oregon, In 2001 PGE took parts of the plant apart so they could eventually think about something else being built there. The parts were put upright in a dry casket and put on a concrete pad in Trojan’s protected area. The nuclear remains from Trojan did not have a safe place to be transported to so they had to stay at the Trojan site. Since the government has not been able to maintain its requirements and open a repository Trojan was widely sued. Trojan has to clean their site to a level of residual radiation that is “as low as reasonably [achievable]” since Trojan was built on an industrial site and is now safe again for any type of use, including industrial, commercial, or even residential.
This all leads to the most important question: Is nuclear energy safe and smart to use? Lauren Hiatte stated “I believe it’s a safe source of energy… but there should be more strict safety standards so there is less chance of something going wrong. I also think [that] since cities are starting to get more advanced we will need a way to make energy in large amounts which nuclear power plants can do.” Ariyanna Hernadez stated, “I think we should try to find a way to make energy that works as good as nuclear energy and is safer so there is less worry about something going wrong”.