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Nuclear Agency Imposes Huge Fine Maker Of Fire Suppressant Accused Of Making False Claims

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission imposed a $900,000 fine against the manufacturer of a fire suppressant material Wednesday, saying the company misled the agency - and reactor operators - on the material’s safety and reliability.

It is the second-largest fine ever levied by the NRC.

The company, Thermal Science Inc. of St. Louis, is the manufacturer of Thermo-Lag, an insulating material put into 79 nuclear power plants to retard flames in a fire, especially around electrical systems. The material has been the subject of years of controversy, but continues to be used in 46 plants.

Company officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

In August 1995, a federal jury acquitted Rubin Feldman, president of Thermal Science, and his company of criminal charges of fraud and lying about the material. The prosecution in the trail charged that Feldman had deceived the NRC about ThermoLag’s performance.

The agency’s action Wednesday involves civil penalties.

While the NRC maintains Thermo-Lag is safe as long as special fire precautions are taken, the agency has acknowledged the material does not live up to the performance standards promised by the manufacturer when it was approved as a fire barrier in the early 1980s.


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Explosion rocks Wisconsin refinery, forcing evacuations

UPDATED: 1:41 p.m.

updated  A tank containing crude oil or asphalt exploded at a large refinery in Wisconsin on Thursday, injuring several people and prompting fire officials to urge people living near the still-burning plant to evacuate their homes.