« PrécédentContinuer »
0 Finally, there is a perception out there that WNP-1
conversion is being driven by politics instead of
The advanced LWR (ALWR), while only mentioned briefly in the ERAB report, is only in its infancy, and again suffers from the same 4-year tritium target lag problem I've already mentioned.
A single, full-sized plant of any design suffers the vulnerabilities of "putting all your eggs in one basket" syndrome, so adeptly addressed in the ERAB's section on duality (see pp. 26-29).
Construction of all the capacity at a single site provides
Construction of the entire capacity using a single
Answer: We generally agree with some elements of your observations and with the general conclusions you have reached. Regarding your comments on WNP-1, the Department notes that there are potential cost and schedule advantages for converting to a production reactor. For this reason the Secretary has recommended..." As a further contingency, work should continue as target development for LWR and on solving the institutional association with acquisition of the WNP-1."
Question: All of the thought processes that I have just taken you through in the previous question leads me to one final conclusion, and that goes as follows:
The HWR and the HTGR are the only viable options, and each ought to be pursued at different sites in order to address diversity and duality issues. There would be some added costs for this scenario, but from a national security perspective, I don't see how we can afford not to choose this approach.
Now, if we can all agree that two reactors (HWR and HTGR) at two sites is the preferred, most assured route, then we need to decide how we can cut costs and schedules.
One obvious way to cut costs in this approach is to build each reactor at half the size of the total capacity required. (This will also keep the commitment intact to complete two reactors, because neither one by itself would supply sufficient quantities of nuclear materials).
Concerning schedules, I do not believe that any reactor technology has the edge on schedule, simply because there are too many factors beyond our control (safety verification, the EIS process, etc.), but we can condense the schedule as much as possible by building both reactor simultaneously. Now, you may question whether we can proceed with the HTGR at this time, given that two more years are needed to verify the tritium target design. But let me suggest the following approach:
It will take 2 years to do EIS, design work, and safety analyses for both the HWR and the HTGR. (The HWR is especially weak in the safety verification area). Meanwhile, HTGR target work could be completed within this same 2-year period. If the target work was successful, the construction of the HTGR could then begin on schedule. If the target work was unsuccessful, then DOE could withdraw its plans for an HTGR, and instead begin construction (at the second site) of a half-sized HWR, whose design work has already been completed during the first 2-year period. While this "fallback" option does not give us diversity of technologies, at least it does give us duality of sites and the certainly of fullscale tritium production capability in the shortest schedule possible.
What does the Department think of this approach?
Answer: Proceeding with half-size reactors jeopardizes the urgency to have on line as soon as practicable, new capacity to meet 100 percent of goal quantities of tritium.
Concerning the schedules, the HWR certainly has its institutional hurdles to overcome such as you noted in the safety verification area. The HWR technology, being so closely related to the commercial LWR systems, and the fact that the fuel and target technology, as well as all of the required supporting facilities are currently in place, should allow the HWR system to meet the schedule urgency. The MHTGR has similar institutional hurdles to overcome, and more importantly from an assured production viewpoint, not only must it successfully complete its target development program, but its circulator, steam generator fuel and graphite and other development activities as well. For the MHTGR to produce 50 percent goal quantities, a complete set of target fabrication and tritium recovery facilities must be developed, designed, and constructed.
In view of this situation, the principal program milestones for the deployment of new production reactor capacity are: (1) to provide a 100 percent capacity HWR at SRP ready to operate within 10 years of the contract award for design and construction, and (2) to provide the first module of a four-module MHTGR at INEL ready for
reliability demonstration within 10 years of the contract award for design and construction. In addition, the Department has established the following major milestones as decision points for the continuation of program activities on the MHTGR: (1) successful completion of target and fuel technology research and development (R&D), (2) successful completion of reactor support R&D and (3) reliable operation of the first MHTGR module for a 1-year period.
Question: Could you describe to me in detail the nature of the decision making process from this point on, in terms of:
Input from outside sources (White House Science Advisor,
Input from NPR site evaluation team (when will this report be available?)
Would you keep me informed of the progress of this "decision" from time to time prior to the Secretary's announcement of his final decision?
will be reviewed under the National Environmental Policy
In the course of its deliberations on technology selection and site evaluation, the Department engaged in consultations with several governmental agencies to obtain their views and recommendations regarding the acquisition strategy for replacement production capacity. The principal topics of concern were the requirements for assured supplies of tritium and plutonium, and the concept of duality. Consultations took place with representatives from the Department of Defense, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the National Security Council, the Nuclear Weapons Council, and the Office of Management and Budget.
These agencies fully supported the evaluation approach utilized by DOE. The acquisition strategy is consistent with the objectives and particular interests of each agency with respect to requirements for tritium and plutonium and production assurance. The consensus is that the achievement of production assurance on an urgent schedule and in a safe manner are the key elements in the acquisition strategy.
The Energy Systems Acquisition Advisory Board (ESAAB) held
The Site Evaluation Team report was issued on
Question: I hate to pursue this next line of questioning, but in view of the recent flap about contractor collusion in the Pentagon, I cannot avoid it:
which reactor vendor is participating in the proposal to convert WNP-1 to a production reactor?
Does Westinghouse have a design proposal for an HWR under consideration?
Has Westinghouse proposed an LWR or an advanced LWR design for the NPR?
Is Westinghouse bidding on the operating contract for
Westinghouse is the reactor vendor participating in the
Neither Westinghouse nor any other organization involved
Westinghouse was one of the bidders on the operating contract for Savannah River (SR). In a press release dated September 8, 1988, DOE announced that Westinghouse had been selected to be the new management and operating contractor at SRP.
Over the past 3 years, the Department has awarded 641 contracts to about 335 different large businesses. (This excludes small businesses, universities, grants, and cooperative agreement.) of these contracts, 42 were awarded to Westinghouse; 27 to General Electric; 17 to Babcock and Wilcox; 13 to Science Applications International Corporation; 11 to Rockwell International; 12 to BBC Brown Boveri; and 10 to EG&G. Other large businesses awarded contracts have been awarded less than 10 contracts.
Question: If DOE should see no clear winner between the three HWR design concepts and the one HTGR design concept, would it consider issuing a Request for Proposals, and have the bidders submit more detailed proposals, thus allowing DOE to choose the best options based on more solid information on designs, costs, schedules, and other vendor commitments?
Answer: The Department is considering several options in developing a strategy for the Request for Proposals (RFP) leading to project definition. The option you have described is one currently under review by the Department.
Question: What does DOE intend to do to adequately address the safety concerns raised by John Ahearne's Advisory Committee on Nuclear Facility Safety in their July 12 letter to Secretary Herrington? The statement from that letter that I am referring to is as follows:
The safety criteria for design and construction of the New Production Reactor can have a significant impact upon cost and schedule if these criteria are ambiguous. In our view such criteria as "provide a level of safety that would meet or exceed that provided to the public by licensed commercial power reactors," or "at least equivalent to the safety provided... by the commercial sector" are not sufficiently precise. We believe that the Department needs a clear explanation of such terms and concepts and how they are to be applied.
Answer: At the present time, DOE is actively engaged in developing detailed design safety criteria which would apply to the NPR. We will have the criteria in place, reviewed, and agreed to prior to the release of an RFP.
Question: When was the last HWR of the type envisioned for a NPR built?
Answer: The last production HWR was completed at Savannah River ir. 1954. No HWR of the type envisioned for this NPR has been built. However, the reactor fuel and target technology base is available. In addition, the infrastructure to build and operate an HWR NPR is also available.
Please explain the way in which the ERAB report will be used in making the decision for new production reactor capacity.