State: Puerto Rico
Location: Punta Higuera
Time Period: 1964-1968
Facility Type: Department of Energy
Facility Description: The Boiling Nuclear Superheat Reactor (BONUS) was licensed from April 2, 1964 to June 1, 1968. Full power operation began in late 1965 and stopped in July 1967. The plant was Atomic Energy Commission/Department of Energy owned; it was not regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Plutonium has been recovered from reactor fuel.
*Site Description and History :
The decommissioned Boiling Nuclear Superheater (BONUS) reactor, located northwest of Rincón, Puerto Rico, was developed as a prototype nuclear power plant to investigate the technical and economic feasibility of the integral boiling- superheating concept. This small-scale nuclear reactor produced saturated steam in the central portion of the reactor core, superheated it in four surrounding “superheater” sections of the same core, and then used the superheated steam in a direct loop to drive a turbine generator.
It was one of only two boiling-water superheater reactors ever developed in the United States. The reactor was designed to be large enough to evaluate the major features of the integral boiling-superheating concept realistically without the high construction and operating costs associated with a large plant.
Construction of the reactor began in 1960 through a combined effort of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission and Puerto Rico Water Resources Authority. The reactor first achieved a controlled nuclear chain reaction on April 13, 1964. It underwent a series of criticality tests and then was operated experimentally at various power levels, first as a boiler and later as an integral boiler-superheater. Operation at full power (50 megawatts of thermal energy) and full temperature (900 °F [482 °C] steam) was achieved in September 1965, and tests demonstrated satisfactory operation at 10 percent over power in November 1965.
Operation of the BONUS reactor was terminated in June 1968 because of technical difficulties and the ensuing need for high-cost modifications. The Puerto Rico Water Resources Authority decommissioned the reactor between 1969 and 1970. During decommissioning, all special nuclear materials (fuel) and certain highly activated components (e.g., control rods and shims) were removed to the mainland, all piping systems were flushed, the reactor vessel and associated internal components within the biological shield were entombed in concrete and grout, and systems external to the entombment were decontaminated. Many contaminated and activated materials were placed in the main circulation pump room beneath the pressure vessel and entombed in concrete. General decontamination of the reactor was performed with the goal of meeting unrestricted use criteria in all accessible areas of the building. Residual radioactive materials remaining in the structure were isolated or shielded to protect site visitors and workers. During subsequent years, more radioactive contamination was identified in portions of the building, and additional cleanup and shielding activities were conducted in the 1990s and early 2000s.
BONUS Reactor Plant is listed as a Department of Energy (DOE) site under the EEOICPA.
As of 03/15/2015, the total compensation paid under Parts B and E of the EEOICPA, including medical compensation, for workers suffering from the effects of having worked at the BONUS Reactor Plant is $275,000.
BONUS Reactor Plant Workers:
If you or your parent worked at this or any other DOE or AWE facility and became ill, you may be entitled to compensation of up to $400K plus medical benefits from the US Department of Labor. Call EEOICPA Counsel Hugh Stephens at 1-855-EEOICPA (336-4272) or fill out the form to the right, whether or not you have filed a claim and even if it has already been accepted or denied.
We can help with all OWCP (Federal Workers Compensation) claims, impairments, wage loss and health care. 2495 Main Street, Suite 442 Buffalo, NY.
State: Puerto Rico