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A containment building, in its most common usage, is a steel or reinforced concrete structure enclosing a nuclear reactor. It is designed, in any emergency, to contain the escape of radiation to a maximum pressure in the range of 60 to 200 psi. The containment is the fourth and final barrier to radioactive release, the first being the fuel ceramic itself, the second being the metal fuel cladding tubes, the third being the reactor vessel and coolant system. Each nuclear plant in the US is designed to withstand certain conditions which are spelled out as "Design Basis Accidents" in the Final Safety Analysis Report. The FSAR is available for public viewing, usually at a public library near the nuclear plant. The containment building itself is typically an airtight steel structure enclosing the reactor normally sealed off from the outside atmosphere. The steel is either free-standing or attached to the concrete missile shield. In the United States, the design and thickness of the containment and the missile shield are governed by federal regulations, and must be strong enough to withstand the impact of a fully loaded passenger airliner without rupture. (via Freebase)