It’s really very ironic that TVA is holding information sessions at its Brown’s Ferry nuclear power plant to show how safe things are there.

This plant was the scene of a rather serious electrical fire back in the 70′s, made all the more serious by the fact that people were using candles (candles!) around flammable material at the plant, as reported in some detail here in an article entitled, “How a Candle Caused a Nuclear Emergency.” A brief excerpt from the introduction follows:

At noon on March 22, 1975, … two electricians were trying to seal air leaks in the cable spreading room, [and ] … were also using candles to determine whether or not the leaks had been successfully plugged — by observing how the flame was affected by escaping airThe electrical engineer put the candle too close to the foam rubber, and it burst into flame.

The resulting fire, which disabled a large number of engineered safety systems at the plant, including the entire emergency core cooling system (ECCS) on Unit 1, and almost resulted in a boiloff/meltdown accident, demonstrates the vulnerability of nuclear plants to “single failure” events and human fallibility.