Gerald W. Brown

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is about the nuclear safety worker and whistleblower. For other people named or nicknamed Jerry Brown(e), see Jerry Brown (disambiguation).
Whistleblower Gerald W. Brown exposed deficiencies in passive fire protection measures used in nuclear construction in the United States and Canada.

Gerald W. "Jerry" Brown is an American whistleblower who concerned himself with deficiencies in passive fire protection systems in US and Canadian nuclear power plants.

Thermo-Lag scandal[edit]

Brown was the original whistleblower of the Thermo-Lag 330-1 scandal,[1] which involved an endothermic material manufactured by Thermal Science Inc., also doing business as Nu-Chem, Inc. and later as TS Holdings Inc. of St. Louis, Missouri. Thermo-Lag was used to provide circuit integrity to wiring running between the nuclear reactors and the control rooms within the power stations. The purpose of the circuit designs was to ensure that in the event of a fire, the wiring remained operable so that workers could shut down reactors to prevent a nuclear meltdown.

Brown discovered and disclosed to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) that the fire testing used to qualify Thermo-Lag was inadequate. By the time of the disclosure, many nuclear plants had already installed the faulty product. The NRC confirmed in fire testing that the installed configurations did not provide the mandated minimum level of protection; the NRC communicated this to its licensees who were subsequently required to either replace or overlay the product with one that met standards. The NRC also established a new and more stringent test procedure for qualifying circuit integrity products.

The NRC fined Thermal Science Inc. $900,000.[2] TSI rejected NRC's claims but wound up settling out of court for $300,000.[3][4]

The importance of firestopping of nuclear facilities was manifested in the Browns Ferry Nuclear Power Plant fire, a fire resulted from combustion of extremely flammable polyurethane foam. This led to control, communications and telemetry/data links between the control room and the reactor core being severed, causing the operators to no longer be able to exercise control over the nuclear reactor. By design, staff were able to use other controls to safely shut down the reactor.

Silicone foam[edit]

Faulty Sakno Silicone Foam Firestop Installation in Calgary Sewage treatment plant in the 1980s, to seal opening above a fire door in a cast concrete fire separation. This was a winter installation with outdoor temperatures near -40°C. Now and then, the exterior door was left open, which affected ambient indoor temperatures and thus the "snapping" process of the foam, whose density varied widely within the seal. Silicone foam, once mixed, evolves hydrogen gas, which bubbles, thus creating a foam, as the liquids turn to solid rubber.

Brown also highlighted issues [5] with the use of silicone foam firestops in the United States and Canada that were not installed in accordance with appropriate certification listings. In Canada, he further pointed out inadequacies with circuit integrity not installed in accordance with appropriate certification listings, which included single-sided fire barriers for three-dimensional cable trays. The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission does not require product certification.

Front for fire protection whistleblowers[edit]

Brown founded the Fire Protection Defense League as a front for other whistleblowers concerned with fire protection issues.[6] Through the help of Canadian members, FPDL and Brown publicised generic fire protection deficiencies in Canada concerning firestops and grease duct systems.

Career path[edit]

Brown spent much of his career as a firestop contractor. Since becoming a whistleblower, his fire protection work came to an end. He has since been involved in farming and is now working on a project involving the commercial uses of peat and wood pellets[7] as energy sources in Minnesota.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]