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the constructed plant with the combined license.
Informal hearings are more accessible to, and serve the
public interest better, by allowing more efficient application of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)
technical expertise in resolving the issues raised.
The informal hearing procedures would be similar to those used by the Environmental Protection Agency in
the administration of the Resource Conservation and
Recovery Act and by the NRC in certain proceedings.
In addition to the public input opportunities in the legislation, the public would have the opportunity to request the NRC to revoke, modify, or suspend a plant's
license at any time. This opportunity exists under current NRC regulations and is not affected by either
S. 341 or the Administration's bill.
91 - 2
In reply to your letter of March 8, 1991 containing questions from Senator Wallop and yourself, I am enclosing my response. It was a pleasure for me to be able to testify on March 5, 1991 before your Committee on Titles XII and XIII of S.341, the National Energy Security Act of 1991. As I stated in my testimony, I believe that the licensing provisions of Titles XII and XIII are vitally important to the nuclear option in that they clarify Congressional intent and will remove grounds for extended litigation. Let me once more note that the key problems inhibiting the increased use of nuclear power in this country are institutional and not technical. Your proposed legislation addresses the key issues and we support its enactment. Some of the testimony that I and others gave on March 5th were comments aimed at further enhancing this legislation and I have asked my organization to work with your Committee staff so that we can further address the issues and clarify the actions necessary to overcome them.
The Advanced Light Water Reactor (ALWR), with its well established 30-year development, industrial infrastructure, and experience base, is clearly the technology for the near term. This position is reflected by U.S. industry in NPOC'S "Strategic Plan for Building New Nuclear Energy Plants," and by DOE in their Light Water Reactor programs. The need for near-term Federal Government support in an "Institutional" Demonstration of an ALWR, as proposed in section 12005 of Title XII of your Bill, is required to demonstrate the workability of the institutional processes and thus to assure that the private sector risk is manageable. The longer term advanced reactor technologies, such as liquid metal and high temperature gas, lack the extensive 30-year experience base of operating plants, and thus will need a "technical" demonstration to achieve NRC certification and commercialization. Section 12006 of Title XII focuses on this "technical" demonstration. We understand from discussions with your staff that Section 12007 of Title XII provides the appropriations to carry out Section 12006, which we believe will represent a value to the energy security of the U.S. in the next century.
Let me close by thanking you for your continued interest in a viable nuclear option. We look forward to working with you and your staff to ensure its availability for the future energy needs of the U.S.
QUESTIONS FOR ALL WITNESSES
1. The Department of Energy estimates that a combination of increases in demand and retirement of existing electric generation capacity will require an additional 200,000 megawatts of capacity by the year 2010. Question: a. Would you agree that until recently there has been considerable excess electrical capacity in this country but that this era is coming to an end?
Answer: Yes, as I stated in detail in my testimony, over the last thirty years the nuclear industry has gone through many highs and lows dependent mostly upon the then-current need for additional capacity. Currently, it is projected that there will be a demand for additional generating capacity if we are to maintain our economic prosperity on its present course. Increased efficiency, conservation, and the use of renewable energy resources such as solar and wind power will all help satisfy the need for new electricity supplies, but will fall far short of meeting the demand if the estimate, namely 150-250 gigawatts of electricity in the next twenty years, is born out.
Question: b. Faced with today's environmental laws such as the Clean Air Act, in your judgement, can this requirement for new generation capacity be satisfied without a greater role for nuclear power than is possible under present circumstances?
Answer: As I stated in my testimony, the two major supply alternatives for base load capacity now available are coal and nuclear energy. With the newly legislated constraints placed on burning fossil fuels in the Clean Air Act as well as possibly new restrictions growing out of the concern about the greenhouse effect, we may find ourselves in a situation where nuclear energy is the only practical means to satisfy expanded electrical use.
Question: c. In your judgement, can the third world meet its anticipated requirements for electricity without a large expansion of nuclear power?
Answer: No, I do not believe so. On a global basis the increasing energy and in particular electrical needs of the developing nations, will likely make increased reliance on nuclear power ever more important. If the estimates of thousands of gigawatts of new Third World capacity are born out, there does not appear to be a practical means to meet the requirements without nuclear power. In addition to the papers cited in my testimony, another recent paper by D. M. Donaldson and G.E. Betteridge entitled "Potential Impact of the Greenhouse Effect on Electricity Supply" supports that conclusion. Reprints of the paper are available from the U.S. Council for Energy Awareness in Washington, DC.
Question: 2. a. Would you agree that the long-term promise of nuclear energy is essentially unlimited through development of advanced liquid metal reactor technologies?
Answer: Yes. However, as I indicated in my testimony, the advanced light water reactor (ALWR) is clearly the technology to be used in the next few decades. It has received extensive development, has a well established 30-year industrial infrastructure and experience base, and is already developing new designs based on this experience. The revival of nuclear energy in the U.S. and its widespread use throughout the world raises the issue of the long-term future of nuclear energy. The light water reactors (and other thermal reactor systems) rely on the economic availability of uranium. Although there appears to be sufficient economic uranium to supply ALWRs for some decades, the long-term promise of nuclear energy is an essentially unlimited energy supply through the Advanced Liquid Metal Reactor (ALMR). The ALMR is unique in that it can be made to manufacture (or breed) substantially more fissile material than it consumes. The utilization of this capability of modern ALMRs to breed will be essential sometime in the next century, as the growth in nuclear energy generation using advanced light water reactors, or other nonbreeding reactors, consumes the currently abundant uranium supply.
Question: b. In your judgment should DOE's program be more aggressive in this regard?
Answer: Yes. The current ALMR program plan, developed by DOE, the industrial team and the National Labs, is based on a realistic success oriented schedule of focused design and technology development, inclusive of a full scale prototype of the nuclear portion of the plant to support NRC certification of the design about the year 2005. The program, however, continues to face funding shortfalls which either delay its progress or raise the technical risk of first time success.
Congressional support is needed to maintain the viability and momentum of this promising program through consistent funding support to the industrial team's design development with similar support to the required technology development at the National Laboratories. The DOE Fiscal Year 1992 budget as submitted is inadequate to maintain the program's momentum. The industrial design team has reprogrammed the completion of the ALMR's advance conceptual design (Phase 1) to the end of September 1992 (a 1 year delay), based on $14.0 million funding for FY92. This revised plan supports DOE's projection of completing the preliminary design (Phase 2) by FY95, and leads into the longer range prototype program for licensing certification through a government/private sector partnership shortly after the turn of the century (2005). National Laboratory funding for FY92 is also needed at levels no less than current year (FY91) amounts if we are to maintain focused technology support and complete the low risk, success-oriented ALMR program underway.