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Senator McCLURE. I think I asked the Secretary that question earlier in a slightly different form, and if I understood correctly, he was going to supply the answer for the record.
Mr. SALGADO. Yes, we will, Senator.
Senator MCCLURE. I am sorry that Senator Hollings had a 12 o'clock appointment and had to leave because I wanted to assure him that I raised the question of the class IX accident not to indicate that I think that the Savannah River reactors are operating unsafely today, but to indicate that a heavy water reactor to be constructed in the future, with a new design to new standards, is going to have to meet that kind of a test, and can't be built and operated until it does; isn't that correct?
Wouldn't that be your view, Mr. Ahearne?
Mr. AHEARNE. Senator, I certainly believe that any of the new reactors have to go through a sound safety review. A class IX accident is a term of art that has been used for years in the NRC. In many places what it means by definition is beyond the basis on which the design was made. In a way there is a tautology there that says if you are considering class IX then you are already analyzing something for which the system wasn't designed. I don't want to step into that area. I would agree that one has to go through detailed safety analyses.
POWER GENERATION FROM NPR
Senator MCCLURE. Dr. Graham, the ERAB report seems to indicate that electricity sales are not of major consequence. I think I state that correctly.
Mr. Schoettler, if I state it wrong, I would invite your intervention, but that is the way I read the ERAB report.
It seems to me that that ignored projections of the need for at least 110 gigawatts of additional electrical power in the United States by the year 2000, and the growing concerns about global warming and acid rain, and the political volatility, which I hope we haven't forgotten, in the Middle East. As Science Advisor to the President, do you think the decisions on the NPR technology should, to the extent possible, factor in concerns about energy policy?
Mr. GRAHAM. Senator McClure, along with my colleagues testifying before you, I believe that the reliability of the tritium supply is the paramount issue before the country, and that should be given the principal focus. To the degree that that can be satisfactorily addressed, then I believe other concerns can also be considered, including the national energy policy and technical transfer issues.
Senator McCLURE. Some concern has been expressed that if steam were produced and sold from an NPR, that those arrangements for sale might interfere with plant operation with respect to the production of tritium. Do you see any inherent unresolvable conflict in that regard?
Mr. GRAHAM. No, Senator, because I think the clear point would have to be made at the outset of any such sale of steam, that the production of tritium was the paramount priority, and it would take precedence over the production of electricity.
Having said that, as I read the ERAB report, they mention that both the preparation for the construction and generation of steam would affect the ultimate price that the government might receive for that steam and that the way in which the reactor or reactors were divided in terms of number and power levels might also affect the price that was obtained for the steam. They point out, I believe quite rightly, that that price can vary substantially depending upon the specific arrangements and configurations that are finally determined by the Secretary of Energy.
Senator MCCLURE. Mr. Schoettler.
Mr. SCHOETTLER. Senator, the expression that you used was not of major consequence, and I don't think that it quite accurately reflects the discussion of the findings that ERAB made. As Dr. Graham just testified, the range of revenue varied all the way from 15 to 60 mils per kilowatt-hour.
I think the one observation that ERAB did make was that they would prefer to input steam over the fence or at the site boundary rather than to get involved in electrical generation because you get involved in NRC and regulatory agencies, and that aspect of it, an NPR, perhaps, would be the one that would be subjected to most difficulties.
The actual revenue would be site dependent, and it would be dependent upon the increased demand for the area, and also the assurance and reliability that a utility customer could expect, and that is usually for a baseload planned at least 10 years in advance. So there are a number of variations.
The other thought was that if you used it for tritium supply and at some time in the future, because of disarmament, you no longer need tritium, then there was an advantage to have some other purpose for an investment of that size.
Senator MCCLURE. I appreciate the response, and at the risk of sounding like I am speaking for the Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce-and I sometimes do- I would just note for the record the uncertainty of steam sales is not necessarily so great because Idaho Power Co. has a standing commitment to purchase any such output that might occur if the construction of any plant produced steam at an Idaho site.
I mention that not because I am suggesting that the only place to build it is Idaho, I don't make that suggestion. But I do want to make the suggestion that, indeed, I will bet you that you will see the South Carolina interests purchase steam if it were necessary to keep Idaho from getting the plant. (Laughter.]
I think that Idaho Power's commitment is valid at almost any location, because it will drive others to make equal commitments if for no other reason.
I can't help but read into the record something that has not been specifically referred to from the ERAB report on page 34, and it is the final line in the options conclusions. It says:
The Board believes that a combination of technologies, including advanced technologies, offers a unique opportunity that should be carefully considered even at increased costs for a step increase in reactor safety and substantial improvement in commercial reactor technology.
That is not a bad place to leave the discussion.
Mr. SALGADO. I would just like to add, in case it hasn't been done, I would ask, since we made numerous references to it, that the ERAB report itself be incorporated into the report as a point of reference.
Senator McCLURE. Without objection, it will be done. (The report follows:)
ASSESSMENT OF CANDIDATE REACTOR TECHNOLOGIES FOR THE
NEW PRODUCTION REACTOR
A REPORT OF THE ENERGY RESEARCH ADVISORY BOARD TO THE
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY
Energy Research Advisory Board
June 27, 1988
The Honorablo John S. Horrington
Dear Mr. Secretary:
In response to your letter of January 7, 1988, the Energy Research Advisory Board has assessed four reactor types as candidate technologies for New Production Reactor (NPR) capacity. The results of the assessment are given in the attached report.
The Board has focused its attention on the production of nuclear materials, especially tritium, as the primary mission of the NPR, as indicated in your letter. In its assessment, the Board emphasized the primary and equal importance of producing goal quantities of tritium when needed and doing so in a safe and environmentally sound manner.
The Board reviewed and modified the Department's proposed selection criteria, and reported these results to you in an Interim Report on March 1, 1988. The Interim Report is included as Appendix E of the present report. The modified criteria have been used by the ERAB in the assessment.
The report notes that the cost of the NPR program and the national defense need for the tritium product requires strong assurance of tritium production capability. The ERAB evaluation has found that the heavy water reactor has the most mature technology for tritium production at the present time, but that each of the technologies could provide new production capacity with varying degrees of risk as to cost and schedule.
The report further states that multiple reactors · either of the same type located at one site, or with different technologies and located at different sites • offer tritium production flexibility and increased production assurance. The Board has recognized, however, that deployment of multiple reactors would increase the cost. In any case, the development of new tritium target technologies would provide expanded options for future consideration. The ERAB's position is that the primary justification for using two technologies is for increased flexibility and assurance of tritium production.
There are other advantages of using different technologies, separate from those associated with tritiua production. Deployment of two technologies would necessarily include at least one of the "high temperature" reactors and, thorofore, would be capable of generating steaa or electric power. The revenue gained by the sale of stoan for power applications (the ERAB prefers the sale of stoan to the sale of electricity) vould provide rovenuo to offset NPR cost. In addition, and very importantly, dovelopment of a high temperature technology would provide both roul and porcolved laprovements in the safety of connercial power.
I hope you will find the report responsive to the charge letter and useful. I would be happy to discuss the report with you at your sarllest convenience.