Vallecitos Nuclear Center

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The Vallecitos Nuclear Center is a nuclear research facility, and the site of a former electricity-generating nuclear power plant in unincorporated Alameda County, California, about 30 miles east of San Francisco, in NRC Region Four.[1]

It is owned by GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy[2] and is located on State Highway 84 between Livermore, California and Interstate 680, south of Pleasanton, California.

Landscape of Vallecitos Nuclear Center set in golden fields with scattered trees
Vallecitos Nuclear Center

The Vallecitos boiling water reactor (VBWR) was the first privately owned and operated nuclear power plant to deliver significant quantities of electricity to a public utility grid. During the period October 1957 to December 1963, it delivered approximately 40,000 megawatt-hours of electricity. This reactor - a light-water moderated and cooled, enriched uranium reactor using stainless steel-clad, plate-type fuel - was a pilot plant and test bed for fuel, core components, controls, and personnel training for the Dresden Nuclear Power Plant, a Commonwealth Edison station built in Illinois five years later.

The plant was originally a collaborative effort of General Electric and Pacific Gas and Electric Company, with Bechtel Corporation serving as engineering contractor. Samuel Untermyer II, the GE engineer responsible for the initial design of the VBWR, had performed much of the conceptual research at Argonne National Laboratory, while conducting heat transfer and nuclear physics experiments, including the BORAX experiments (boiling reactor experiment). The main power generating facilities closed in 1963.[3]

The Vallecitos site includes the Radioactive Materials Laboratory where post-irradiation examinations are done. A small 100 kilowatt research reactor is still in operation at the site. Vallecitos also fabricates radioactive source materials used in medicine and industry, under a license issued by the State of California.[4]

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Coordinates: 37°36′47.76″N 121°50′24.59″W / 37.6132667°N 121.8401639°W / 37.6132667; -121.8401639