Inside an Abandoned Nuclear Reactor Chamber

FEBRUARY 4, 2014 by ARNO

Exit This Way

Satsop, Washington, USA. 2014

There’s something unnerving about a dimly lit building so you would think that entering the Reactor Containment Building of a nuclear power plant would really raise the hairs on my neck but strangely enough, all I felt was excitement. I wanted to get in there and I wanted to explore.

Once inside the building, it was more like what I had imagined an abandoned space station would be like. It was cold (about 45°Fahrenheit year-round). There is not a lot of light and the sheer scale of the place and everything in it was massive. It was the perfect place to unstrap my gear and spend a few hours photographing.

The Reactor Containment Building is a free-standing cylinder made from 2-inch thick steel, 150 feet across and nearly 270 feet high including the domed roof. Surrounding the containment structure is a 3-foot thick steel-reinforced concrete shield wall. The 2-inch thick steel domed door that once sealed the entryway was removed and sold for scrap metal a few years back.

The light radiating from the entryway drew me into the area that once housed the steam generators, the reactor vessel, control element drives, coolant pumps, a pressurizer, safety injection tanks, and the main systems that supported the nuclear process from inside the containment structure. These are some of my photos.

Taken with the Canon 5DMKII & TS-E17mm f/4L lens and processed in Capture One and Adobe Photoshop.

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