The Nuclear Dome in Rincon Puerto Rico – The Real Deal
Matt, Conner and I went skin diving this morning for more lobsters. We were drinking coffee at 4:30 am and spent about an hour and a half exploring Reactor Reef, the reef that sits just north of Domes surfing beach. We hopped in about 100 yards around the corner on domes trail and hunted around the corner of the reef to Domes beach. I saw about 20 lobsters, but they were all small. Conner and Matt both spotted a few big ones but weren’t able to catch any. All in all, it was fun diving but I was a little disappointed to come back empty handed. That’s just how it goes.
On our walk back to the truck (without lobsters), we started talking about the Dome that is right off the beach and I told Conner and Matt that I didn’t know the real story, but rumor had it that it was only open for an hour and then they shut the thing down, filled it with concrete and haven’t touched it since. When we got home, Conner decided to do a little research and we got the skinny on the Rincon Nuclear Reactor from the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission website.
The Dome is located on the point of Rincon past the light house about 100 yards at the end of the road. Rincon is located on the North West corner of Puerto Rico South West of Aguadilla and North West of Mayaguez. Rincon can be accessed of the #2 Road on both sides by the 115. The Dome was prototype nuclear power plant built to learn more about the technical and economical feasibility of a Boiling Nuclear Superheater reactor (BONUS). Rincons BONUS reactor is one of only two ever built by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. The Nuclear Power Plant created power by producing saturated steam in the center portion of the reactor and would then superheat that steam in four surrounding chambers and feed the superheated steam into a turbine generator which would create electricity.
Construction for the facility began in 1960 and the first nuclear chain reaction was achieved on April 13th 1964. After being thoroughly tested it was brought up to full power in September of 1965. The reactor ran successfully until June of 1968 when its operation was terminated due to technical difficulties and high-cost modifications needed to run the plant safely and effectively. It was fully decommissioned in late 1969 early 1970. All nuclear materials were removed to the mainland. All the lines were flushed and the reactor vessel and associated internal components within the biological shield were entombed in concrete. Recently, in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s more clean-up and shielding activities were conducted. The site is inspected minimally every quarter by PREPA and DOE. Current intentions of the site include opening the main floor to the public as a museum and learning facility.
Hmmm, I wonder how big the lobsters were out there in the early 70’s?