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Question: With such a large investment already made in MFTF/B, why has the budget proposed to mothball it?
Answer: As you know, the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Law established austere budget goals for Government expenditures. The Department of Energy had to accommodate these budget pressures. This has resulted in a reduced Magnetic Fusion Energy program budget. In order to accommodate these reductions, difficult decisions on what could be afforded had to be made. We decided to maintain the scientific strength of the program needed for international collaboration on the tokamak, while also maintaining an advanced toroidal program to build and improve upon the tokamak concept.
Question: Is there international interest or other Federal agency interest in the MFTF-B?
Answer: We have held preliminary, informal discussions with the Japanese on MFTF-B collaboration. They have shown some interest, but like us, have to first balance their program priorities and then identify funds. No funds are seen as immediately available from these discussions. As far as interest from other Federal agencies, none have been expressed to us.
Question: Is it realistic to suppose that international support for MFTF/B will be forthcoming if the United States drops mirror fusion research altogether?
Answer: It is difficult to determine whether there will be international support until we have further explored this subject with foreign interests.
Question: How much funding would be required in FY 1987 to continue the MFTF/B program at some meaningful level?
Answer: In order to operate MFTF-B as a tandem mirror, a year of further preparation is required during which the neutral beams would be installed, the ECH system added, and plasma diagnostics fabricated and installed. This preparation for operations would require at least $50 million instead of the $15 million for mothballing activities. If this scenario were to be pursued and experiments on MFTF-B were to be initiated, actual operating costs for MFTF-B and supporting programs would be about $ 70 million per year.
QUESTIONS SUBMITTED BY SENATOR DOMENICI
Question. You seem to be enthusiastic about the fuel cells program on transportation, even though the Administration's budget request has reduced drastically on all fuel cells programs. Personally, I am concerned that when Congress added funds to fuel cells programs, your department seems to be able to play with words and not passing funds through to fuel cells programs in the past. Would you please explain to me your justification?
Answer. It is true that the application of fuel cells to transportation vehicles looks very promising. Our generic research on Solid Polymer Electrolyte fuel cells is progressing very well, and this fuel cell type seems to be the best candidate in the long term to serve the vehicular needs most efficiently. There does not appear to be a substantial near-term market for fuel-cell-powered vehicles. The Budget Request includes funds to continue this research and reflects our judgment to maintain continuity and technical progress in areas of highest priority and potential payoff. In FY 1986 and FY 1987, DOE will focus on the most promising option, solid polymer electrolyte technology. This technology has high energy density, lower temperature operating characteristics, and the potential for ease in fabrication. In addition, more fundamertal work on electrocatalysis will be carried out to provide the technology base for advanced fuel cell technology,
Question: The budget request for Magnetic Fusion program is down 9% from $365 million to $333 million. Will $333 million be able to maintain our effort in key technical areas for an effective program, particularly the Advance Fusion Concept programs?
Answer: The $333 million budget request will allow us to sustain an effective and balanced program to address the four remaining key technical issues in fusion. To maintain progress at this level, it has been necessary to focus the program on development of the toroidal concept and to eliminate research on tandem mirrors. Consistent with this approach, funding for Advanced Fusion Concepts has been maintained constant. This support includes funds for the continuation of fabrication efforts on two new experimental projects: a reversed field pinch device at LANL and a field reversed configuration device at Spectra Technology, Inc.
Superconducting Super Collider
Question: We have had several discussions on SSC, particularly on the international participations. Would you elaborate on your observation regarding SSC status and the possibility of international participation?
Answer: R&D on the SSC has gone well and the Conceptual Design Report, due in April, is expected to contain a feasible, detailed, and well-costed design. The Department, using this input will conduct a thorough review this spring of the entire scientific, technical, and cost aspects of the SSC. This review will serve as
important input to the Department's decision this summer on whether to seek authorization to initiate construction of the project in FY 1988 or in some future year. The interest in the SSC is worldwide. Because it will be world-leading for decades to come, it will attract international participation. The Japanese, in particular, have indicated interest in participation in the facility and collaboration in the experimentation if the U.S. proceeds. The Western Europeans are presently preoccupied with construction of two world-forefront billion-dollar class facilities of their own and may not be able to contribute substantially. The Italian physicists have exhibited interest in involvement with SSC, as have Canadian physicists. In any case, wide-spread international collaboration and cost sharing on the detectors are firmly anticipated. A commitment on the part of the U.S. to go forward with the SSC would encourage international support for the project and I believe lead to specific collaborations.
Question: Many States are gearing up to bid for the honor of being the host State for SSC. Many states prepare to offer incentives to DOE for siting SSC. What is your feeling concerning the siting criteria?
Answer: I believe that the technical advisory on site parameters by the SSC Central Design Group (CDG) provides a sound basis for a set of technical site criteria. With regard to the issue of state bidding and incentives which clearly impact on the cost of the SSC to the Federal government, we have been anticipating that the states would offer at least the site free of charge, as was done in the 1960's for what is now Fermilab. Assistance on utilities, roads, and other site improvements would also be appropriate. We welcome the opportunity to reduce the cost of the project to the federal government and believe that it is appopriate that the states offer inducements to attract hightechnology facilities, whether government or private, that might help build the local economy. On the other hand, this facility is of crucial importance to the future of basic research in this country, and full consideration must be given to all the site criteria important to its success as a world-forefront facility.
(Whereupon, at 3:06 p.m. Tuesday, March 11, the subcommittee was recessed to reconvene at 2 p.m. Thursday, March 13.)
ENERGY AND WATER DEVELOPMENT
THURSDAY, MARCH 13, 1986
DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY
NUCLEAR FISSION R&D, URANIUM ENRICHMENT, AND NUCLEAR WASTE
DISPOSAL PROGRAMS STATEMENTS OF:
JAMES W. VAUGHAN, JR, ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR NU
CLEAR ENERGY BEN C. RUSCHE, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF CIVILIAN RADIOACTIVE WASTE
MANAGEMENT, DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY ACCOMPANIED BY:
JOHN R. LONGENECKER, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR URANI:
UM ENRICHMENT DR. LYLE C. WILCOX, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR REACTOR
SYSTEMS, DEVELOPMENT AND TECHNOLOGY
This afternoon, we continue our hearings on fiscal year 1987 budget proposals from the Department of Energy, and today we will receive testimony on nuclear fission, uranium enrichment and nuclear waste disposal programs.
We welcome our two principal witnesses, Mr. James W. Vaughan, Acting Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy; and Mr. B.C. Rusche, Director of the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management.
Mr. Vaughan, your full statement will be included in the record, so if you wish to proceed to highlight or to outline it, we would be very happy to have your testimony.