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QUESTIONS SUBMITTED BY CHAIRMAN HATFIELD
Strategic Defense Initiative
Question: It appears from this enormous increase in funding that what the President continues to refer to as a "non-nuclear defensive system" may clearly be a nuclear system and could usher in a new generation of nuclear weapons. What is your view?
Answer: DOE SDI activities include both research on nuclear directed energy weapons concepts and nuclear power sources. The President's policy for SDI is a truly effective nonnuclear defense and this Department unconditionally supports this policy. The primary reason that we are pursuing nuclear directed energy weapons research is to understand the Soviet's capability to design and deploy similar weapons which would put the United States strategic deterrent force or a future defensive system at risk. These data are required as soon as possible because of the potential impact they could have on current nonnuclear SDI research and planning. In addition, the Department of Energy is conducting research on nuclear isotope and nuclear reactor power sources for a variety of SDI applications involving nonnuclear weapons and support systems.
Question: If nuclear systems were deployed, would you envision both ground-based and space-based systems? Are you concerned about moving toward nuclear systems in space? (New Space race/safetyenvironment)
Answer: If the United States were to deploy a strategic defense system which included nuclear directed energy weapons--and this would be a national decision which would have to be made by the President in concert with the Congress--we expect that such weapons would most likely be deployed in a ground-based "pop-up" launch mode. As part of our research program aimed at providing Soviet threat definition as soon as possible, however, we are examining the feasibility of a full spectrum of Soviet nuclear directed energy weapon deployment schemes (architectures) and the impacts such deployments could have on U.S. strategic defenses.
Question: What was the level of funding for SDI which was initially requested by the Department from OMB?
Answer: The Nuclear Directed Energy Weapons FY 1987 estimate was adjusted by $35 million from $571 million to $536 million. Part of the adjustment involved $15 million for the Strategic Defenses Facility. Congress requested that the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy jointly fund this facility, therefore, $ 15 million of the original $ 30 million request was transferred to the Department of Defense. The remaining adjustment of $20 million is associated with the follow-on funding of reimbursable work conducted for the Department of Defense in FY 1986 that was initially considered Department of Energy responsibility.
Question: What is the total amount of reimbursable SDI work for DOD which is proposed for FY 1987?
Answer: The total FY 1987 reimbursable funding for the DOE National Laboratories is anticipated to be about the FY 1986 level of effort, at about $242 million. We are unable to predict the precise level at this time because these are major programs that have the potential for changing the level.
Question: Please provide the Committee with a detailed
breakdown of the request with FY 1985, FY 1986 and FY 1987 levels.
The detailed strategic defense initiative estimates
are as shown in a table I would like to insert for the record.
*Excludes $3 million for Multimegawatt Terrestial Power Plant.
Question: Mr. Secretary, on page 13, your statement indicates the budget proposes a fundamental shift in funding nuclear energy R&D activities. Your FY 1987 budget proposes some large shifts, particularly in the advanced reactor research, away from civilian reactor research and into military research. Will the current efforts in civilian R&D be reduced and finally eliminated.
Answer: Our civilian R&D activities are based on understandings that we have developed over the past several years related to market requirements for new electric generating capacity, vendor and laboratory assessments of the status of existing technology, and the feasibility of future technology advancement to meet market needs. The level of R&D recommended for FY 1987 is sufficient to address key technology and regulatory issues. It is our intent to continue R&D in support of addressing those issues, which must be resolved before economic advanced reactor concepts can be developed and commercialized by the private sector. It is not our intent to eliminate our civilian nuclear energy R&D efforts on advanced reactors.
Question: The American Nuclear Society has stated that "each SDI installation (ground-based) will require a secure power source and nuclear reactors will almost certainly provide the power. Deployment is now seen as "soon". .the race is on to select a standard design ... that will become an integral part of each SDI installation.". In your view, is this an accurate assessment? How "soon" do you see deployment of these SDI installations?
Answer: Ground-based assets are an important part of the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) program; however, decisions on deployment have not been made. Power will certainly be an important consideration for any ground-based assets and the following statement by General Abrahamson in a letter to Lt. Gen Leo Marquez, USAF (DCS Logistics and Engineering), highlights the potential of nuclear systems:
"As you may know, in addition to space power for
"The thrust of the current SDI power program is to
An operational Secure Military Powerplant (now known as the Multimegawatt Terrestrial Powerplant) can also provide the secure and reliable power which will be needed for the essential command, control, communications and intelligence subsystem of the SDI. These subsystems will need to operate reliably in hostile environments and be invulnerable to sabotage,
Funding for Magnetic Fusion
Question: In magnetic fusion research, there also seems to be additional activity in military applications. For years, there has been talk of the first fusion reactor being a breeder of nuclear material. I understand that you are now proposing to study the feasibility of using magnetic fusion for producing the special nuclear materials used for nuclear bombs and warheads. Would you comment on this new study?
Answer: I assume the study being referred to is the DOE-funded National Academy of Sciences (NAS) study of the Fusion Hybrid Reactor. The primary objective of this study, which will be completed by August 1986, is to address questions on the technical feasibility, potential, and utilization of the fusion hybrid reactor. Such a reactor is a fusion-driven device which, besides generating electricity, can produce fissile materials for fueling commercial nuclear reactors in a fuel cycle with potentially attractive cost, safety, and proliferation-resistant characteristics. The NAS study will also consider the possible use of magnetic fusion for production of materials used in military applications. Except for this element of the NAS study, there is no effort now planned to study magnetic fusion for producing the special nuclear materials contained in nuclear bombs and warheads.
Question: Do you see this military application as a nearerterm use of magnetic fusion than its use for generating electricity?
Answer: While it has not been shown conclusively, the plasma physics and reactor technology requirements of a fusion device designed to produce nuclear materials may not be as demanding as those for a fusion device designed to generate electricity. Therefore, it is technically possible that the military application of fusion could be achieved on a shorter time-scale than the commercial application of fusion for electricity generation. However, magnetic fusion research will continue its application focus on electricity generation.
Question: How much do you propose to spend in FY86 and FY87 for this effort?
Answer: With the exception of the funding needed to support the NAS study, no funds are being provided in FY86 for studies directly related to nuclear material production with magnetic fusion. Funding for such work in FY87 and beyond will be considered following DOE's review of recommendations from the NAS study.
Funding for the high-level commercial waste program would jump 54 percent, from $499 million in 86 to $769 million in FY 87. This program is paid for from a fee levied against nuclear utilities.
Question: Why is this large increase necessary in FY 87? (Please provide a breakdown of funding at the 3 proposed waste repository sites in FY 86 and FY 87 with amounts to specific contractors).
Answer: The reasons for increased FY 1987 funding relative to FY 1986 listed by sub-program are:
For the first repository, the increase is mainly required for extensive site characterization, initiation of exploratory shaft construction and intensive engineering tests and analyses to support waste package and repository designs.
For the second repository, the increase will provide for: preparation for area-phase field studies in the crystalline rock repository project; expanded cooperative efforts with the Atomic Energy of Canada Limited/Underground Research laboratory and the Swedish/Stripa projects; grants to affected States and Indian Tribes; and engineering activities related to waste package and repository design.
For the MRS, the increase is requested for implementation of activities in each of the following categories: design, regulatory and institutional, systems support and program management.
For transportation the increase will provide for: execution of transportation cask development contracts which will also require increased support of outreach and institutional activities; implementation of the Transportation Institutional Plan issued in FY 1986; increased efforts in economic and environmental analyses required to provide route specific information for the environmental impact statement; and continued development of technology and data systems to aid in issue resolution for institutional obstacles that may impede transportation system development or generate increased costs.
For systems integration the increase will provide for: development and conduct of prototypical demonstrations for dry rod consolidation techniques aimed at developing efficient and costeffective waste handling and packaging equipment; and accelerated waste management systems integration activities supportive of issue resolution of interface and logistic problems between the waste generators, handling and packaging operations and repository operations.