California to Puerto Rico

The Nuclear Dome in Rincon Puerto Rico – The Real Deal

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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.

Rincons BONUS Decommissioned Nuclear ReactorThe 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.

The Dome in Rincon Puerto RicoConstruction 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?


78 thoughts on “The Nuclear Dome in Rincon Puerto Rico – The Real Deal

  1. Jose Gato

    Thats why they did shutdown the plant Fran and Steve. after they went full in 1968 many people in the area were diagnose with cancer. It has been many attemps to open it to the public but none of them were safe. Some people actually said the even today they fear that the plant have any contamination. ( Local, P.R).

  2. Kris

    I’m planning on moving to Rincon in a few weeks and starting a family there. I’m very curious about this BONUS and trying to soak up any and all info I can. Thanks.

    • Summer

      Kris – I will let you know if my baby is born with two-heads due to radioactivity coming from the BONUS nuclear reactor ;). Check back at the end of June…

  3. Carlos Velez

    After working for PREPA for more than 30 years, the last 22 surveying the Dr. Modesto Iriarte Technological Museum (former BONUS Nuclear Station; name changed by virtue of law in 2001) I would like to clarify some of the issues you mention in your article. First, thanks for taking the time to really search into it’s history. The Atomic Energy Commission (now Department of Energy; DOE) made only two plants with the superheater concept; BONUS and Pathfinder (which was also decomissioned and demolished), but were not the only ones under DOE ( you can search for Halley, Piqua and others, as well).  DOE used the entombment process as a safe and economical mean to ensure safe radiation levels exposure so that it could be open to the public. As a matter of fact, if you look at the newspapers of 1970, it was inagurated as a museum. Due to the new environmental regulations (EPA and EQB were created in 1970) which required more cleanup and the fact that there was no organizational structure within PREPA to take care of the museum, it closed and went under radiological surveillance. In 1993, the former Mayor of Rincon requested the lighthouse to the US Coast Guard and asked PREPA to grant him access (the Coast Guard had to go thru the beach to access it; the facility is surrounded by 135 acres that belong to PREPA; from Calipso Bar to the mountain). He also asked PREPA to develop an historical museum, along with the technological museum, as well.  PREPA agreed and asked DOE”s permission to grant access to the public (DOE is the owner of the radioactivity, PREPA is only the custodiant and owner of all the structures and land within the site). Cleanups, public meetings and environmental statements were done, residual radiation levels were taken to natural background levels (same levels you would find at your home or surroundings) and finally access to the public was granted;  still no organizational structure to open. But, you can visit by appointment calling Eng. Francisco Lopez, Division Head of Enviromental and Quality Assurance of PREPA at (787) 521-4060. Numerous groups and students have already visited the site. Hope this clarify more.

  4. Carlos Velez

    Also, the Department of Health of PR made an study in 1975, due to the issue of cancer in Rincon, which concluded that the rate of cancer was normal for towns with the same population and exposures as Rincon and not due to the plant. Remember it was a prototype, the eight plant constructed by the US and was closely monitored by local agencies and scientists from around the world that visited it.

  5. Carlos Velez

    Two corrections: it was Law 307 of September 2, 2000 (not 2001) that changed the name To the plant and it was Hallam not Halley the plant under DOE.

  6. Rodríguez

    “All nuclear materials were removed to the mainland.”

    I don`t want to be rude, and yes this is gonna sound political. But since when the U.S. is the mainland of Puerto Rico? First, We are NOT a state.(thanks God) And second, by international law Puerto Rico belongs to, but is NOT part of the U.S.

  7. Carlos Velez

    Just for info: (Wikipedia)

    Mainland is usually the continental part of a region, as opposed to the islands nearby, or, if the region is entirely insular, the largest of the several islands comprising the region. Sometimes the residents are called “the Mainlanders”. As a result of the usually larger area of mainland, there are significantly more mainlanders than islanders, and mainlander culture and politics sometimes threaten to dominate those of the islands.

    Prominent uses of the term include:

    Mainland Australia, as opposed to Tasmania.
    British Mainland (i.e. the island of Great Britain), as opposed to the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, Northern Ireland (although when used to differentiate Britain from Ireland it can be considered an offensive usage) or any other British island. On the Isle of Wight in 1982, Paul Theroux overheard residents at Ventnor: “and now they were talking about ‘the mainland’, as if we were far at sea and not twenty minutes by ferry from Portsmouth”.[1]
    Mainland Canada, as opposed to Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, Cape Breton Island or Vancouver Island;
    Mainland China, as opposed to the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau (but including the island of Hainan), and Taiwan (and other areas administered by the Republic of China);
    Mainland Denmark, as opposed to the Faroe Islands and Greenland.
    Mainland Estonia, as opposed to Saaremaa, Hiiumaa and other Western Estonian islands.
    Mainland Europe, another term for Continental Europe used in many parts of the English-speaking world, but generally not in the United Kingdom; usually in Great Britain, and sometimes in Ireland, mainland Europe is referred to as The Continent.
    Mainland Finland, as opposed to Åland Islands;
    Mainland France (Le Continent), as opposed to Corsica; in relation to its Overseas Departments and Territories, the term Metropolitan France (France Métropolitaine) is more commonly used;
    Mainland Ireland as opposed to its offshore islands. Note that “the mainland” in Northern Ireland is ambiguous between this sense and the preceding one; using the phrase to mean “Great Britain as opposed to Northern Ireland” is considered objectionable by many Nationalists. In Ireland the term “the mainland” is also used as an alternative means to refer to the land mass of Europe
    Mainland Japan and Honsh?, as opposed to the rest of the Japanese islands (see also Home Islands);
    Mainland Korea as opposed to Jeju and Ulleung Islands
    the Nova Scotian mainland, as opposed to Cape Breton Island;
    Mainland Portugal as opposed to Azores and Madeira Islands.
    Mainland Scotland as opposed to its many offshore islands including the Western Isles and Orkney or Shetland.
    Mainland Spain as opposed to the Balearic and Canary Islands, the North African cities of Ceuta and Melilla, the island of Alborán and other minor exclaves on Northern Africa (called the Plazas de soberanía). In Spain the terms “España peninsular” or simply “La Península” are often used.
    Mainland United States, as opposed to the state of Hawaii and overseas territories (the terms “U.S. Mainland” and “The Mainland” are commonly used in Hawaii, but not in the U.S. mainland itself where “continental United States,” which also excludes Alaska, is more commonly used instead); note: this latter term is also more precisely referred to as the “contiguous United States.”

  8. Fran and Steve

    Thank you Carlos, for the excellent history of the plant! Re the use of the word “mainland” in Puerto Rico, I clearly think of it as only referring to the continental US. Not for any other reason besides the irrefutable fact that Puerto Rico IS a commonwealth of the US, regardless of an individual’s political beliefs. A few decades ago when I was in high school in PR, US mainlanders were referred to as “continentals”. I wonder which of those two terms is more appropriate and respectful. I’m just wondering about those 2, and am not interested in hearing any of the other unimaginative monikers thrown around, unless it’s respectful and inclusive of Hawaiians and Alaskans (since “mainlanders” and “continentals” obviously exclude them). Fran

  9. Carlos Velez

    I would say mainlanders. 

    Mainland is usually the largest part of a region. Yet, as mentioned, the terms “U.S. Mainland” and “The Mainland” are commonly used in Hawaii or the US territories. 

    But not in the U.S. mainland itself (where “continental United States,” which is also more precisely referred to as the “contiguous United States.”; by contiguos excluding Alaska) is more used. 

    A continent is a landmass (a large continuous area of land) identify by convention (agreement). In our case, it  is called North America. Continental is an adjetive of continent. 

    So the people in Alaska could (by definition) be address as continentals (if Canada were a state, there would be no issue).

  10. Fran and Steve

    I like “mainlanders” too. Now… how should mainlanders be referred to in Spanish, if one is in Puerto Rico? No term I have ever heard is quite appropriate. How about an acronym such as ECO (Estadounidense Continental) or ENB (Estadounidense No Boricua) – could be pronounced in Spanish “enebé”? While I’m on the subject, I’d like to point out that the use of the word “expatriate” in reference to a mainlander residing in Puerto Rico is inappropriate, unless they have renounced their US citizenship. Fran

  11. Carlos Velez

    By definition (again in Wikipedia), American or Americano (in Spanish), refers to:

    A citizen or attribute of or from the United States (see also Names for U.S. citizens)
    A citizen or attribute of one of the nations of the Americas
    A person who considers himself/herself to be ethnically American (see American ethnicity)
    The indigenous peoples of the Americas

    So If you are not a puertorican descendant, my best guess would be “americanos” which is the name we usually use. Else, newyoricans and so forth.

  12. Theresa Colon

    i don’t really have a comment on the mainlander issue but have a question. what’s going on on the east side of the island?? between gas co. exploding and gay’s being murdered i’m a bit worried about life in paradise. i’m hearing lots of rumors of the problems getting worse come the 1st of the year when the layoffs start. what should we expect?

  13. Carlos Velez


    Puerto Rico us still a paradaise. Yet, we have accidents and crimes that occur like in any other part of the World. The gas co accident (on the north side of the Island) is a rare event which was properly taken care off without any casualties except for property and enviromental damages that can be restored (just a few days after, a similiar accident happened in India and based on the way we solved, they did too).

    The gay murder was notorious because he was decapitated and dismember by the same guy that is been accused of killing his wife in the same way (the wife was not gay neither the guy accused, so far as we can tell).

    The layoffs were part of the political plataform of the Party that got elected. The problem is like what happened to Mr. Guillotin in France. He did not expected to be the first to test if it worked. So the people from the elected Party did not expected to be laidoff, also (the guy that throw the egg to the Governor said was from his party). I personally don’t beleive in layouts to solve economicals issues. I believe in hiring and giving money to people in order to move the economy. But, you would have to search in You Tube for Zeitgeist the movie or Moores movies to understand economical power (and the families that have it) rules the World. Same happens here.

    Puerto Rico is a paradaise. No serial killers, no difteria or rare diseases and the laidoffs will be resolve (after all, every four years we have elections) 🙂 So don’t worry and come and have parrandas and lechon for Christmas!


    Great job Carlos your information was baked on facts.IM still waiting anybody from these surfing spots Costa Rica’ Puerto Escondido Mexico’ Indonesia if things are better there than Rincon. Still waitng not a response at all i guess is not greener on the other side of the fence

  15. Theresa Colon

    Carlos, thanks for the write back. your right, bad things do happen everywhere. i’ve just been bombarded by peole putting PR down lately and i let it get to me. i’ll try to get more educated on the issues at hand so i can be a give positive feedback to the naysayers. thanks again, i can’ wait to return in dec.

  16. Rayman

    The initial issue as to the size of the lobsters was lost in the other comments. Like many sea creatures, lobsters can and are probably over harvested. Local viewing of lobsters is not a way of measuring the total population and size of the creatures. You probably observed a few small ones, then later on, larger ones. This has little to do with contamination, which by the way, was contained many decades ago. Good luck.

  17. Glenn

    I was wondering if Carlos had any thoughts on why the reactor was put in Rincon. The area has the potential for large earthquakes because of the Puerto Trench. The earthquake in 1918 in the Mona Rift, just 40 miles off the nw coast,created a tsunami inundating the coastline from Aguadilla to Mayaquez. I don’t know if there are any good places to put a nuclear reactor, but this place certainly doesn’t seem to be one.

  18. Carlos Velez

    Sorry for the delay Glenn. With regards to your concern over sismic activities and the decision to build on that area, I always like to put references on my answers and not assume them, so I checked in the FINAL HAZARDS SUMMARY REPORT (February 1, 1962; copy of which are located on Rincón´s Public Library and its Municipal Assembly, PREPA´s Environmental Division and the DOE). And from page 822-1 we quote:
    “The seismographical classification of the station site is Zone II. This means that as far as probability of seismic damage is concerned it falls in the same category as the States of’ Utah, Nevada, Montana, and the most stable parts of California. Most of California falls in the Zone III category for which the seismic force factors are twice as large as those for Zone II. The containment building shell, along with its anchor footing, floor s Lab , and the internal foundations for the reactor and turbine equipment, are designed for moderate to severe earthquake activity under the requirements of the Uniform’ Building Code for Zone II Seismic Disturbances. These criteria were also the basis for the design of external structures, the stack, the underground waste disposal tanks, the entrance building, and the power distribution towers.

    If a tremor is sensed, the reactor will be automatically scrammed by a special switch that has been provided in the scram circuit, and reactor steam will be bypassed to the condenser. The reactor will be depressurized gradually by continuous bypassing of the steam to the condenser.”

    With regard the decision to build on that area, on pages 100-1 to 100-4, we quote:
    “On February 4, 1960, the United States Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) contracted separately with General Nuclear Engineering Corporation (GNEC) and the Puerto Rico Water Resources Authority (PRWRA) for the detailed design of the BOiling NUclear Superheater (BONUS) Power Station. Contracts AT(40-l)-2674 and AT(40-l)-2672 were awarded, respectively, to GNEC and PRWRA for the nuclear and the electric power generating portions of the power station. These awards followed completion by GNEC and PRWRA of studies and a preliminary design of the BONUS Power Station under Contract AT(40-l)-2484. The results of this study established the technical feasibility and safety of a small (17.5 Mw(e)) nuclear power plant using a boiling water reactor with integral nuclear superheating. The design study was published in December 1959 and January 1960.

    The Preliminary Hazards Summary Report for the BONUS Power Station (PRWRA-GNEC 2) was reviewed by the Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards (ACRS) at its twenty-fourth meeting, March 10-12, 1960, following a meeting of the ACRS BONUS Subcommittee on February 16, 1960. Subsequent to these meetings, Mr. L. Silverman, Chairman of the ACRS (March 1960) advised the Chairman of the AEC on March 14, 1960, that except for certain reservations the ACRS “concludes that the proposed reactor may be constructed with reasonable assurance that it can be operated at the site selected without undue risk to the health and safety of the public.” The reservations attached to the above approval are quoted below:
    “Presupposing the continuation of present generally favorable experience with the boiling water reactors the nuclear superheater represents the main experimental item of the proposed reactor. Prior to operation, pertinent information developed for gas-cooled reactors as well as information from the VBWR superheater experiment will have to be reviewed. It is recognized that this information will leave some questions unanswered, such as long-term integrity of the superheater fuel elements and radioactive contamination of the turbine. It will be necessary to show that these open questions do not cause a hazard to the health and safety of the public.”

    After the review by the ACRS, a public hearing was held in San Juan, Puerto Rico on April 27, 1960. As a result of this hearing, an intermediate decision was issued on June 28, 1960, by the Presiding Officer, Mr. Samuel W. Jensch, in the matter of Puerto Rico Water Resources Authority, Power Demonstration Reactor Project, Docket No. PP-4. The conclusions of this decision are repeated below:

    “1. Construction is authorized for the erection to completion of the proposed nuclear reactor utilization facility described in the contracts and proposals executed between and among the United States Atomic Energy Commission, Puerto Rico Water Resources Authority, General Nuclear Engineering Corporation, and Maxon Construction Company and in accordance with the Hazards Summary Report, which are a part of the record herein.

    “2. This construction authorization is provisional to the extent that an authorization to operate the facility will not be issued by the Commission unless there be submitted at a further public hearing which shall be convened to consider the operating authorization, The Final Hazards Summary Report (portions of which may be submitted and evaluated from time to time) and the commission shall find that the final design, includlng the nuclear superheater, and data developed from the specified preconstruction experimental programs, including the integrity of the containment structure, provide reasonable assurance that the health and safety of the public will not be endangered and that the operation of the facility will not be inimical to the common defense and security as required by the Atomic Energy Act, as amended.

    “3. No allocation shall be made of nuclear fuel for the proposed nuclear reactor utilization facility until further hearing and determination by the Commission, which shall be held respecting operating authorization after the completion of the construction of this facility.

    “4. Exceptions, if any, and brief in support thereof must be filed by July 18, 1960; briefs in opposition thereto shall be filed by July 20, 1960, and if the Commission does not initiate a review on its own motion, and no exceptions are filed, this decision shall, in accordance with the Commission’s Rules of Practice, become final on July 19, 1960.”

    “5. There being no exceptions filed, the above decision became final on July 19, 1960.
    This report, PRWRA-GNEC 5, has been prepared to comply with Item 2 of the conclusions of the intermediate decision and to conform with the laws and regulations outlined in the Code of Federal Regulations, AEC Licenses: Materials, Facilities, Operators, AEC Regulation, 10 CFR Part 115, “Procedure for Review of Certain Nuclear Reactors Exempted from Licensing Requirements.” In addition, AEC Regulation 10 CFR Part 100, “Reactor Site Criteria,” has also been used in the preparation of the report.
    This report summarizes and evaluates the important design and operational features of the BONUS Power Station which have an effect on the safety aspects of the station. Detailed data on the reactor design are given in a separate report, PRWRA-GNEC 6. The design and fabrication of the reactor pressure vessel is reported in GNEC 210.

    The detailed design of the BONUS reactor has taken consideration of data obtained from the VBWR superheater experiments, of the pertinent information contained in the Oak Ridge National Laboratory Status and Progress reports on the gas-cooled reactor experiment, the operational and materials aspects of the boiling water reactors in general, and the data obtained from the pre-construction BONUS R&D Program. Terminal reports were issued in connection with the pre-construction BONUS R&D program to provide detailed information regarding the various experimental tasks. The results of the R&D tasks have been taken into account in the evaluation of the BONUS hazards.

    This report constitutes the final evaluation of the BONUS Power Station hazards. A separate technical specification will include significant design and operating limitations which shall become part of the authorization to operate the BONUS Power Station.” (end of quote)
    Hope this clarifies any doubt you had.

  19. Tom Z

    I have been coming to Rincon since 1970, and have owned property there too – and I have heard all kinds of rumors about the “Domes” nuclear plant. So, thanks for all that great background info Carlos!
    For 7 years I worked with the EPA in NYC and I remember always seeing literature and maps showing where nuclear reactors were located. FYI: PR is part of EPA Region II, which also includes NY & NJ and VI.
    On the maps it listed the “Domes” reactor with a date of 1949 – which seemed odd. However, maybe it was planned/commisioned 10 years earlier, took a long time to build and come online? I think Roosevelt was president back in 1949!

  20. Justo Rivas


    I’m a student in PR, I study Land Survey and Mapping with GIS, and im doing a research in nuclear plant. I have this crazy idea of making a sketch or proposal about a nuclear plant in Vieques, to take care of the energy crisis here in PR. Nuclear power intrigues me. Ive been reading a book named “Nuclear Power, Technology on trial” written by Duderstandt & Kikuchi. And they have explained that this is the technology of the future, the power of the sun. I just have one question:

    Why this nuclear plant failed?

    …and thanks for this wonderful forum, its been a great help.

  21. Frank Bevilacqua

    By accident I came across the discussion on the BONUS nuclear power plant. I was one off the lead project engineers that developed, designed, and supervised the initial operation of the BONUS reactor plant in Rincon. Dr. Modesto Iriarte and Julio Fragoso of the PRWRA were part of the team that were assigned to the BONUS project during the design, construction and operation of the plant.
    The plant was a demonstration plant to determine the feasibility of generating superheated steam within a nuclear reactor.This was successfully demonstrated. However, the fuel cost for the superheater fuel proved to be such that the overall cost for the power generation was too high in spite of the higher efficiency obtained by the superheat. The discussion presented by the USAEC covered the plant very accurately.
    I would just like to add that I lived on the resort on the beach at Rincon. My fellow engineer used to go lobster spearing just outside our cabins and had fresh lobster every week.
    I spent a year in Rincon during the constuction of the plant. The operation of the plant did not contaminate the area and I am sure the lobsters and the whales that were in the waters outside our cabins are very healthy

  22. Glenn

    Hi Carlos- Thankyou for taking the time to respond in such a through manner. I appreciate the time and effort to get the original documents.You are a great resourse! Regards, Glenn

  23. Billy Boy

    WALMART in Carolina, Puerto Rico, broke the selling records of all Wall Mart stores in the US.
    Puerto Rico is the country with the most cars per square mile in the world: 146 vehicles per street mile and 4,300 vehicles per square mile.
    Plaza Las Americas mall in San Juan is the most profitable mall per square foot in the world.
    The highest grossing Borders book store in US territory is located in Puerto Rico.
    The busiest Toys “R” Us in the world is in Puerto Rico.
    The highest grossing Sears store in the world is in Puerto Rico.
    The highest selling Kmart store in the US is in San Juan.
    The Radio Shack store in Plaza Las Americas mall is the busiest and highest grossing Radio Shack in the world.
    The largest JC Penney store in the world (a full 4 stories) is located at Plaza Las Americas Mall.
    The Port of San Juan is the fourth busiest seaport in the Western Hemisphere.
    San Juan is the oldest city in US territory (older than the city of St. Augustine, FL) and was founded in 1508 by Juan Ponce de Leon.
    The Piña Colada was “born” in PR in 1954.
    Puerto Rico has won the Miss Universe pageant a record five times.
    Puerto Rico has the only rain forest in the US – El Yunque.
    The place in the world with more pharmaceutical companies per square mile is Puerto Rico.
    There are about 1,100 people per square mile, a ratio higher than within any of the 50 states in the United States.
    Puerto Rico’s population density per square miles is among the world’s highest – only Bangladesh, the Maldives, Barbados, Taiwan, South Korea and the city-states of Hong Kong and Singapore are more crowded.
    Puerto Rico is the third country in the world with more physicians in proportion to its population.
    The Camuy River in Puerto Rico is among the top three longest underground rivers in the world.
    Puerto Rico has one of the highest rates of alcohol consumption in the world.
    The longest pool in the world is located in a hotel in Dorado, PR.
    It is estimated that there is more Nickel in the mountains of Puerto Rico than the whole United States, including Alaska and Hawaii.
    There are more Puerto Ricans living in the rest of the United States than in the island of Puerto Rico itself.
    La Fortaleza in San Juan is the oldest executive mansion in the New World.
    The state of Florida was discovered by Puerto Rico’s first governor, Don Juan Ponce de Leon (in other words, Florida was discovered by a Puertorican politician!).
    The first shot fired by the United States in World War I was from a puertorican, Lt. Teofilo Marxuach.
    86% of the rum drunk in the U.S. is from Puerto Rico.
    Puerto Rico has one of the world’s highest productivity ratios.
    The world’s highest concentrations of bioluminescent waters are in Puerto Rico.
    Coffee grown and brewed in Puerto Rico is the official coffee of the Vatican at this moment.
    Puerto Rico ranks 6th in the world when it comes to college graduates.
    Puerto Ricans are the only people in the world who regularly applaud when a plane lands and when it reaches the gate.
    Puerto Rico has more gas stations, churches, cars, roads and Walgreens per square mile than any other country in the world.
    The world’s biggest and largest radio-telescope is in Puerto Rico.
    Telemundo, the second largest Spanish language television station in the United States, was founded in Puerto Rico.
    Puerto Rico has more rivers per square mile than any other place in the world.
    The second radio station to be inaugurated in the US was in PR.
    The longest running TV program was in Puerto Rico.
    The first Emmy went to a Puerto Rican… Jose Ferrer. He also got the Academy award for the same role.
    Rita Moreno got those two and one for Best Actress in a Broadway show. No one else has matched that.
    The most outstanding soldier in Europe at the end of the Second WW was chosen from the Puerto Rican 66th Infantry.
    One of the three still living WWI veterans is a Puerto Rican.



    That was very good to read.Good statistics and facts about PR. By the way Billy Boy are you a BORICUA or GRINGO

  25. Summer

    Billy Boy – Great list of facts! Although this one is not true:

    “Puerto Ricans are the only people in the world who regularly applaud when a plane lands and when it reaches the gate.”

    I’ve found this to be true for many latin American cultures and the first time I experienced applause when a plane landed was on a flight to Costa Rica.

  26. Carlos Velez

    Thanks Frank for stepping in. Nothing better than someone who lived the experience.

    Billy Boy I think it was the 65th Infantry not 66. Agree with Summer. Even tough we applaud, if you search Internet you are going to find Germans, Italians (some believe they were the first) and others also do it. You are being a good “Boricuaso”. Keep the good work!

  27. Carlos Velez

    By the way, Tom Z: the 1949 date must have been an error, 1959 would have been more accurate. By 1949, even Russia was starting to develop their nuclear reactors.

  28. Tom Z

    Thanks Carlos for the update – I always thought that 1949 date was kind of early for that reactor – but it was consistent on several documents and maps at the EPA offices in NYC where I worked in the 80’s. EPA data is not always accurate – as we find out frequently in the news.



  30. flygirl777

    Yeah, Puerto Ricans do spend a lot of money they don’t have. They are shopping all the time and just rack up personal debt they can’t pay back. PR is apart of the US since it owns the territory, and the residents sure don’t seem to mind the money the US supplies!

  31. wilfredo marquez

    4 ur info flygirl777, I’m PRican, my house is in the high 200k w/o a r my cars… seems ALL u Californians r prejudiced against our people u stink the money could be US but we earned like the guy next door… US gov supplies money to our country in the same way they do to any other state .. chupate esa !

  32. wilfredo marquez

    The reason we spend so much money is
    cuz we OWN our properties. Is a culture kind of thing that every one here dream with owning his/her property.. but I think u don’t understand this.. u prefer to see the face of ur landlord every month !!

  33. Carlos Velez

    Dear flygirl777, you are right, we spend a lot. That’s why all the major credit cards, banks and institutions lend us money, obviously at a higher interest rate than in the US. But you know the real reason is they lend us, because we pay back. And as soon as we pay back, they want to lend us more. We are a territory, but we are the major importer from the US. Check above and you’ll see why all those companies which are clossing in the US are becoming the major sellers here. Don’t think US is giving us money for free. It’s a win win situation. After all, we really are a freely associated state! … (but when they passed the Law in English they said: don’t let everyone know that, lets better call them Commonwealth). Commonwealth…uhmm! …makes you wonder! 🙂

  34. Carlos Velez

    Hector Herrrera to answer your question I surf the Internet and could not find (even in the 65th Infantry site) anyone recalling who was that person. All I saw were post saying he was from the 65th Inf. Here is what I’ve found:

    Check and

    Samuel Woodfill (January 6, 1883-August 10, 1951) was a Major in the United States Army. He was a veteran of the Philippine–American War, World War I, and World War II. Woodfill was one of the most celebrated American soldiers of the early twentieth century. General John Pershing called Woodfill the most outstanding soldier in World War I.

    Also check:

    Most decorated?

    Audie Murphy is often cited as America’s most decorated war veteran. However, the Guinness Book of World Records lists Matt Urban as “the Most Combat-Decorated Soldier in American History”. It should be noted however that, while Urban may exceed Murphy by number of awards, he did not receive the Distinguished Service Cross, America’s second-highest decoration for valor. It could be argued, however, that Murphy was equaled, if not surpassed, in combat awards (especially when they were awarded for separate actions) by Lieutenant Robert L. Howard, the U.S.’s most highly-decorated soldier of the Vietnam War.

    If you check Amazon books, you will have to decide, based on the books, who is most decorated… 🙂

    Lets continue:

    Notable Puerto Rican members of the 65th Infantry

    Among the notable Puerto Ricans from the regiment who distinguished themselves are:

    Table: Notable Puerto Ricans who served in the 65th Infantry Regiment

    Highest rank reached

    Major General
    Juan Cesar Cordero Davila
    Commanding officer of the 65th Infantry Regiment during the Korean War

    Brigadier General
    Antonio Rodriguez Balinas
    First commander of the Office of the First U.S. Army Deputy Command (awarded two Silver Stars)

    Virgil R. Miller
    The 422nd Regimental Combat Team Commander who led the rescue of the “Lost Battalion” during World War II

    Carlos Betances Ramirez
    Only Puerto Rican officer to command an infantry battalion in the Korean War

    Antulio Segarra
    First Puerto Rican Regular Army officer to command a Regular Army regiment

    Lieutenant Colonel
    Teófilo Marxuach
    Ordered the first shot fired on behalf of the United States in World War I

    Master Sergeant
    Pedro Rodriguez
    Awarded two Silver Stars in one week

    Sergeant First Class
    Agustin Ramos Calero
    Among the most decorated (22 decorations) soldiers in the United States during World War II

    Sergeant First Class
    Modesto Cartagena
    The most decorated Puerto Rican soldier in history

    Note: recently there was a movement to comment Cartagena for the Medal of Honor.

    Regarding selection, in traditional service units, monthly and quarterly competitions select the most outstanding Soldier, Sailor, Airmen and Marine representing the command as the best of the best.

    Also check this site for Borinqueneers info.

    But, as in Woodfill case, it seems to be more by appreciation when you are considering overall.

    I would like to end this with this trivia from the Borinqueneers site:

    In all, some 61,000 Puerto Ricans served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, the bulk of them with the 65th Infantry Regiment. Of these, 48,000 joined in Puerto Rico. Over the course of the war, 743 were killed and 2,318 wounded. One of every 42 casualties incurred by U.S. forces was Puerto Rican, and the island suffered one casualty for every 660 of its inhabitants as compared to one casualty for every 1,125 inhabitants of the Continental United States.[194]
    Why did Puerto Ricans fight in Korea? Perhaps there was some truth in Governor Muñoz-Marin’s words on the day the colors of the regiment were transferred to the 296th: “The flag of the United States which they followed with devotion into battle represents their great democratic faith as citizens of the United States. The flag of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, under which they proudly fought, represents in their hearts those ideals important to Puerto Rico, for their homes in the hills and villages of Puerto Rico, their pride in their traditions, and their hope that their island would assume each day a greater role as an exporter of goodwill and understanding between the peoples of all countries.” One senses the real answer, however, in the words of a group of Puerto Rican 65th Infantry Korean War veterans: “We fought because we were soldiers of the United States Army and of the regiment. It was our duty.”

  35. Dorn Green

    The project engineer on the Rincon Nuclear Power Plant, Ed Thompson, now deceased, hired me to repair and build numerous electronic cards that were amplifiers for signals from the numerous sensors to the main control panel room, This was in 1963. The control rods had arrived but were not yet installed. The boiler was completed

  36. El Guanche Boricua

    My father was a phisycs proffessor at uprm and I remember when I was about 8 years old (Im 45 Now) goingto the centro nuclear next to phisycs dept. and watched the bright light down the deep pool of the reactor and pops said to me that the energy of the uranium was producing it. Childhood Memories

  37. Carlos Velez

    Dorn I’ve been searching for photos of people working at BONUS and have not been able to find them. I know that on special occasions, like the Secretary’s Day, they used to tour them around. If you have or know of someone that has, please let me know.

  38. Miguel A. Donate

    After reading the comments in the article I see some people going into politics, that, by the way, is the biggest sport in the island. That said I wish that the US goverment or private company bring a nuclear power plant to the island. The local goverment is using the wrong fuel to generate electricity and we, the people, are paying the always growing cost without any improvements. In the 21st. century we continualy have power outages. I suggest that a campaign be started to let the people know the benefits of a nuclear plant. If the US change from fosil fuel to nuclear fuel the ever hating arabs would have to eat sand and the people would have more money in their pocket to live a decent life. Yes I am a jíbaro from Puerto Rico.

  39. Ben

    Puerto Rico is a territory like all the other territories before becoming part of the union of states. By the way there is two other Commonwealth like Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. Every territory that is part of the union of states has their own flag, constitution, governor and so on but what some Puerto Ricans tend to forget (those in the 3% minority) is that regardless of Puerto Rico’s own definition of political status, Puerto Rico is the United States and the United States is Puerto Rico (period)

  40. Carlos Velez

    Miguel that campaign you mention started in the ’50 with the designed of the BONUS Plant. PREPA was aware from that time that an oil crisis would eventually affect us and that is why it tried to change the way it generated for more diverse forms. The problem has been, even today: 1)that they did not get much support since oil was very very cheap and all other technologies were experimental in the early days, 2) environmental groups have concerns over the way we are going to move to diversify, be it natural gas, wind or any technology.
    There is an Executive Law prohibiting the use of nuclear electrical generation. You are right, I have suggested several times to base a nuclear ship in Ramey or Ceiba to generate electricity and prove it is a safe technology. US uses mainly coal not oil. Oil is mostly for transportation. The outstages are mostly from excessive urban development not from lack of generation capacity.

  41. Carlos Velez

    Ben you are right. From Wikipedia: Four states in the United States officially designate themselves as “commonwealths”:
    -Kentucky is designated a Commonwealth by the Kentucky Constitution and is known as the “Commonwealth of Kentucky.”
    -Massachusetts is a Commonwealth, declaring itself as such in its constitution, which states that “The body politic is formed by a voluntary association of individuals: it is a social compact, by which the whole people covenants with each citizen, and each citizen with the whole people, that all shall be governed by certain laws for the common good.”
    -Pennsylvania uses the “Commonwealth of Pennsylvania” as its official title.
    -Virginia has been known as the “Commonwealth of Virginia” since before joining the United States.

    U.S. insular areas-“Commonwealth” is also used in the U.S. to describe the political relationship between the United States and the overseas unincorporated territories:
    -Commonwealth of the Philippines — formed in 1934, and became independent in 1946.
    -Puerto Rico — became a commonwealth in 1952.
    -Northern Mariana Islands — became a commonwealth in 1978.

    That does not mean that we have the same rights as the States, since we are not.

    PR is USA, but USA does not treat us the same way. Right know we are considered International since we are not continental in the sense of the contiguous 48 States. Don’t know if Hawaii is being treated the same. We are a Freely Associated State and maybe someday we will achieve a better definition, but for the moment this is our reality. We can help select who is going to be the President, but we cannot vote for him.

  42. Ben

    Well planted Carlos. I truly believe if those who seek statehood on the island need a different approach to tackle this mission. They have to use what the independence seekers within the PPD are already doing witch is a Commonwealth of Puerto Rico as a sovereign nation. Would the sale of the idea of a Commonwealth of Puerto Rico as a 51st State of the Union work? Is how you sale not what you sale that makes the sale! I believe without a doubt, it should win most of the popular vote within the PPD.
    Why do I say this? Everyone in the island has grown for several generations with the idea of a “Estado Libre y Asociado” (Commonwealth) and they believe that’s what PR is and should be and if it becomes a full State the ELA would disappear. The PNP (New Progressive Party) has to sale this better using the Commonwealth to the pro US group in the PPD. Both can get what they want a Commonwealth and the 51st State. It works very well “The Commonwealth State Of Puerto Rico”. In Spanish you wouldn’t have to change anything because it’s already acknowledging the same meaning. By the way the people within the PPD that want independence are using that same tactic making the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico a sovereign nation. Statehooders need to be smarter and sale what most Puerto Ricans want a Commonwealth that is part of the Union of States. Puerto Rico can become a State like Texas did with the option in their constitution to opt out.

  43. Ben

    And when it comes to the possibilities of Puerto Rico becoming a State, for the Nae sayers let me expand some more 🙂 Puerto Rico has held a number of plebiscites to determine whether they want to become a state or not. The last one was quite long ago, making most of those numbers pretty irrelevant. Unlike what some folks suggest, the US Territory has moved closer and closer to statehood each time. At this point, it’s clear it will become a state sooner than later. If it doesn’t become a state in this upcoming vote that Congress has approved (but pending Senate approval), it will most likely secure that in a subsequent plebiscite that will be required by law to occur in eight or 10 years… something in that ballpark. Unlike other votes, this time it’s Congress that is asking the island to make a decision.

    Usually the biggest reluctance, both on the mainland and the island, has been based on cultural and language issues. Given the Americanism of the island and prevalence of English language media (both languages are official languages and island residents have access to the same TV shows, music, etc. as any other place in the US), plus the impact of a growing Hispanic culture on the mainland, this reluctance has worn thin and is at worst, at a tipping point.

    As a state Puerto Rico would probably feel closer to what the cities of Miami with a Madrid or Los Angeles with more colonial Spanish feel like than to what Montana or North Dakota feel like though in terms of population it’s probably similar to those two cities and those two states.

    What many people on the mainland misunderstand is that this is about Puerto Rico as a land-mass, not the people born and / or raised there. Anyone born there, Hispanic or not, is born American and can move to any other state if they wish to be under the same system and allowed the exact same rights (like voting in the general presidential election, as opposed to just the primary) as any other American. The question really is about changing the nature of Puerto Rico as a jurisdiction.

    As a US Territory, Puerto Rico has become a hub for immigrant influx, mainly from the Dominican Republic. It wrestles with illegal issues as much as Arizona does, except that the challenge is coming from the Dominican Republic rather than Mexico.

    In all truth, the US should do away with any territories except Washington DC. Washington DC was constitutionally carved out to be what it is for specific reasons. But the territories in the Pacific should all become part of Hawaii, much like the US Virgin Islands should attach to a State of Puerto Rico – or become independent.

    You can see what a 51-Star flag will look like, based on official US Army Institute of Heraldry proposals here:

    Interestingly, Puerto Rico’s current Governor is a Republican who has been mentioned as a potential presidential candidate. At the very least, political analysts would probably concede he may end up in a cabinet position.


  44. Raul

    Wow!!!I was just looking for some interesting facts on the Domes plant in Rincon,P.R. I visit there two or three times a year. It is a GREAT place. What need is there for all the extra discussion on the politics of the Island. Why can we not keep our comments limited to the topic ( Domes )???

  45. Carlos Velez

    Thanks for the comments. Rocío I already had them. Thanks for the tip. The thing is I know special events took place there (weddings, Secretaries Week tours, etc) and was wondering if anyone had photos to share.

  46. Eddie Rosado

    As a kid i grew up in rincon beautiful town to visit but i remember going to a wedding near the plant and to this day if im not mistaken this place to celebrate weddings in is still open for business so anyone thinking to travel to rincon go for it you wont regret it is not radio active in rincon

  47. Rocío López

    Guanche, me imagino esos maravillosos momentos… cuánto me encantaría haber conocido a tu querido padre, el distinguido Profesor de f’ísica, José (Pepín) Medina Hernández!!! Todo el que conozco me dice que era una persona muy jovial y encantadora!

  48. Jaime Rivera Sierra

    Fact: The US built this WITHOUT knowledge, less the consent of the Puerto Rican People.
    Fact: The US lied before and will lie again about this issue.
    Fact: There are FIRST HAND reports of the US taking into the plant, groups of elementary students.
    Question (Know the answer): Can I go and measure radiation onsite TODAY?
    Opinion: The US had no right whatsoever to build this facility or to hide the testing results from the international community.
    Opinion: The US can’t blame other nations for using radiological, biological or chemical weapons against their own population because, THEY’VE DONE IT TOO.
    Conclusion: If you belief what the DOE says, you are naive.

  49. Carlos Velez

    Well Jaime, it seems you have not read my previous posts on this issue but let me clear some of your concerns: First, the design and concept was based on Dr. Modesto Iriarte’s Master thesis (a bpricua) when he was studying nuclear engineering (he became the first nuclear engineer in the US from Wisconsin Univ.; was send by PREPA to study there). Also there were public meetings in San Juan before being built (read my older posts). Taking elementary school students into the plant…well I attended 1,500 elementary student on one day and a Boys Scout Camp of about 600 once. It has also been visited by appointment by students from US univ, Mayaguez campus, ect. Copy of the project and the surveys were giving and delivered to Rincon’s Public Library and its Municipal Assembly years ago and are also on DOE’s web page. You can call PREPA’s Environmental Division Head to visit (groups of 10 or more please; I do not think they would mind for you to make the measurements) at 787 521-4960. I used to supervise, make the survey measurements and give the tours before retiring from PREPA in 2009. Hope this helps…another thing… watch THE NUCLEAR Option is a documentary where even the founder of Green Peace says he was wrong about blaming on the nuclear issues (because not a single dead has occur in the US related to nuclear issues in US Nuclear Power Plants). Conclusion: read more, conclude less.

  50. Pam

    Wow, this thread is an amazing wealth of Domes knowledge. Just a thank you to everyone who took the time to research and/or share their professional experience and knowledge with the rest of us. I am a science geek and love this stuff – and who knew you could tour Domes?

  51. John

    I own a house in Rincon and actually I wonder if anyone has ever taken readings of the ground water besides the DOE? I love Rincon and the people of Puerto Rico and would prefer other sources to confirm exactly what, if any, issues regarding the plant may exist. I mention this only because no one has ever did a study that I am aware of regarding cancer rates throughout the island and compared it to Rincon specifically nor am I aware if anyone has ever given the cancer rate of Rincon in relationship to areas in general. I think for me personally, having a Dome is interesting but always makes me wonder and I certainly wouldn’t take DOE information without independent verification. The DOE has lied more than once as well as its predecessor before it. Have ground water readings ever been taken independent of a government agency charged with keeping records? I am not an alarmist but very much a realist.

  52. John

    I’d do appreciate this website and I’m open minded but I know of 2 local people who I call frienads, one died a year ago in her early 30s (her sister owns Tamboo) and another a friend who’s family has been in Rincon for many generations.. yes he is older but has a well on his property so I think it only fair to ask and I don’t know who else to ask. Thanks and please keep me posted via email. I’ll be there all of Janurary at my home in Rincon.

  53. John Wheeler

    BONUS reactor trivia – During my last trip to Rincon about 2 years ago I was speaking with the owner of a coffee shop who claimed for a while the inside of the dome was rented out for partys and events. He said there’s a large flat concrete slab in there that they would turn into a dance floor. He claimed to have participated in one such event in which they hung a disco mirror ball in the middle of the dome and danced all night. I have to way to collaborate this story, but I also have no reason to doubt it.

  54. Carlos Velez

    John: First your friend is right. During the 70´s and maybe part of the 80´s the area at the Cafeteria and Auditorium was rented to the Rincon Municipality and they used for weddings and parties (the contract was later cancelled) but not the inside of the Dome, to the best of my knowledge, which was closed and under annual surveillance by Dr. Nimia Irrizary from Mayagüez Campus, under contract with DOE, as an independent observer. If your friend was inside the Dome and on a party or wedding, please send me some pictures. Pictures usually come in hand with these events, don’t they? Specially, for people for which these premises were like Area 51. Just curious.

    Your second concern regarding the wells…well the plant before and during operation was closely monitored..remember it was the eight plant built by the US and was visited from over 35 scientists from different countries to be study, including Puerto Rico´s Department of Health personnel…samples were taking from the well that supplied water to the plant, the nearby grass and even the cow´s milk. Additionally, three wells were built within the plant premises during the end of the 90´by an independent contractor..Jacobs if I can recall… and monitored as part of the request to be opened for the public. They were later closed, as everything showed OK. PRASA has monitoring reports, but I do not know (at the moment) if they include radiological elements at You have to select the area of concern and enter your PRASA account.

    Your third concern, an epidemiological study relating to cancer was done in the 70´s by Dr. Ramos Jordan comparing the cancer rates between towns on the Island and concluding that most of the small towns, like Rincon that were near the coast had the same cancer rate due to several facts like old age (people retire to the coast) and longer exposures to the sun (we all like the beach). You can contact Raul Hernandez, Radiological Health Division of the PR Department of Health ([email protected]) if you want more information. Hope these clear some of your concerns.

  55. Marcos A. Crespo

    My father help built the plant and he said when the foundation was been built water started leaking from the sea, also I remenber reading back in the 80’s or 90’s about some surfer reporting a leak from the pplant on the ocean floor. should research articles from El Vocero in that area.

  56. Carlos Vélez

    Marcos: the plant was built around 20 feets above sea level. Yet, it had a well on the farm premises and probably what your father saw was water from the table level. Around the 80’s the plant had been decommissioned ten years before and there could be no leak from a solid containment which did not have liquids. Lot of people speculate because it was kind of a mystery on those days. Not anymore. See articles above. Hope this help. If your father has photos during the construction and would like to share them I would appreciate them. Thanks for the comment.

  57. americano

    Wow sure are some probably well intentioned but ultra niave comments on here about the “safety” of the worst energy source ever! The pollution from nukes NEVER goes away…

    For thousands upon thousands of years it remains deadly. The routinely leak or have “events” such as explosions or malfuntions and emit radiation that there is NO safe level of exposure to!!! THERE IS NO SAFE LEVEL OF EXPOSURE TO THIS VIAL BS!

    Look @ Fukushima! Total melt downs, TRILLIONS UPON TRILLIONS of radioactive particles emitted. The UN recently estimated the deaths from Chernobyl to be over a MILLION. The UN is pro nuke…
    Hundred of thousands, if not more, of americans have died from nuclear exposure…
    it has been covered up of course because the only thing, literally, that matters is MONEY. That is usa, isreal, europe,china, mexico, russia, japan, the whole freaking world’s god.
    The literally tested nuke fall out on our own troops! Please for the love of truth think about it! Remember those films were they had them RUNNING into where the nuke blasted??? They also tested fall out on the “downwinders”.
    Yeah these tests were secret, and private citizens were simply, one way or another, not allowed to study the effects because A LOT of money/power was @ stake, which is always more important then the lives of common, exspendable folks…
    The nuke plants have had numerous incidences.
    The spent fuel is dangerous, for ever. There are MILLIONS of tons of it just laying around awaiting some inevitable catastrophe that will kill some more!
    Wake up!
    Nukes are the worst!
    Pollution that lasts for generation after generation after generation, yeah not literally “for ever” but for every single lifetime for THOUSANDS OF YEARS!
    Nukes proponents are sickos.
    They are messed up in the head and heart.
    We need a nuke free world immediately.
    Yeah I’m being alarmist cuz this stuff is atrocious, vicious with no end in sight, EVER.
    FUKUSHIMA may literally contaminate the entire west coast of usa.
    Tokyo will probable be evacuated

    Where do u think all this cancer comes from??? Primarily from all the insane, criminal weapons testing AND all the crazy nuke plants were they mess around with atom bombs/the power of the sun like its no big deal…
    The arrogance is only surpassed by their stupidity.
    STILL living in the dark ages…
    Look into the TRUTH about nukes and u will see it has killed MILLIONS UPON MILLIONS.
    I am not even exaggerating.

    ONE nuke plant has the capacity to make entire countries uninhabitable, possibly the entire hemisphere. NOT EXAGgERATING.

    They poured concrete all over because it was highly contaminated…

    Such a shame, crime and tragedy

  58. Carlos Velez

    Need to clarify my post on Iriarte. Did some research with Hilda, her daughter, and we found he was one of the first three nuclear engineers to graduate from Michigan University not Wisconsin. Sorry for the previous error.

  59. Héctor Colon

    Near 1999 i wa able to inspect the interior. I climbed the 40 ft height concrete enclosure. At the top thee was a brass plate the said: “Danger, in case this this concrete stucture cracks, run away an notify Heath officials”…

  60. Héctor Colon

    Due to the hazard -the biggest seismic fault is nearby- and due to radioactivity, I would not buy a property in Puntas.

  61. John Velez

    Carlos, are you in Rincon PR? I’d like to tour the Dome when I get there in a few weeks… I have a house there but mainly live in the states…

  62. William Jimenez

    Carlos Velez, trabajastes en la Central Palo Seco, si fué así Samuel Portalatín y Hector Rubén Dávila trabajaron en Bonus.

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