Issues bearing on the need for and the timing of the U.S. liquid metal fast breeder reactor


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Issues bearing on the need for and the timing of the U.S. liquid metal fast breeder reactor a report
Physical Description:
v, 41 p. : ; 24 cm.
Von Hippel, Frank
United States -- Congress. -- House. -- Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs. -- Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment
U.S. Govt. Print. Off.
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Subjects / Keywords:
Breeder reactors   ( lcsh )
Liquid metal cooled reactors   ( lcsh )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
federal government publication   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


Includes bibliographical references.
General Note:
At head of title: 94th Congress, 2d session. Committee print no. 16.
Statement of Responsibility:
prepared by Frank von Hippel for the Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment of the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs of the U.S. House of Representatives, Ninety-fourth Congress, May 1976.

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University of Florida
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
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Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Page i
        Page ii
    Letter of transmittal
        Page iii
        Page iv
    Table of Contents
        Page v
        Page vi
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
    I. The rationale for the breeder reactor
        Page 5
    II. Hazards of a plutonium economy
        Page 6
    III. Timing of the LMFBR decision
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
    IV. Other uranium conserving reactors
        Page 13
        Page 14
    V. Economics
        Page 15
    VI. LMFBR program management
        Page 16
    VII. The role of the Clinch River demonstration breeder reactor and succeeding "near commercial" breeder reactors in ERDA's LMFBR development program
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
    Footnotes and references
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
    Appendix A. The uranium conservation value of a breeder reactor
        Page 27
    Appendix B. Issues related to contamination of the environment by plutonium and other transuranic elements
        Page 28
        Page 29
    Appendix C. The risk of diversion of plutonium to the illicit production of fission explosives
        Page 30
        Page 31
    Appendix D. Safety advantages and disadvantages of the LMFBR
        Page 32
        Page 33
    Appendix E. Other uranium conserving reactors
        Page 34
        Page 35
    Appendix F. Factors bearing on the capital cost differences between light-water-cooled and liquid-metal cooled breeder reactors
        Page 36
        Page 37
    Appendix G. Some management problems in the LMFBR development program as documented in GAO reports
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
    Back Cover
        Page 42
Full Text


MAY 1976


Printed for the use of the
Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs



94th Congress COMMITTEE PRINT NO. 16
2d Sessions








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JAMES A. HALEY. Florida, Chairman

ROY A. TAYLOR, North Carolina
LLOYD MEEDS. Washington
RON DE LI'GO, Virgin Islands
PA UL E. TSONGAS, Massachusetts
ALL.AN T. HOWE, Utahli
SOB CARR. Michigan
.EORGE MILLER, California

JOE SKUBITZ, Kansas, Ranking Minority
DON H. CLAUSEN, California

LEE MCELVAIN, General Counsel
MICHAEL C. MARDEN, Minority Counsel
HENRY R. MYERS, Special Consultant on Nuclear Energy Matters

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; ,. MORVIS K. U
JA1.E BENITEZ. Pii-rto.-RIco
BWI C., Mirlig Fi
ztq* JIlt'TGO. Virgin Islandi .
QII3B ICKTI.\R)T, Texn'. -
3JII**:r. Montaiaa -
(;I^I{ G,< >:ni ll.:. E C'alft~o Tn
TI-': S '1{0 \q ri 0.. Wy oitni
J1 lIIN ii.i, mB t ,ItLING .C) h io
'AI'L E. TSONGAS, Massachusetts
JOS1:I'i P. VIGORITO, Pennsylvania

'DALL, Arizona, Chairman

M.\('1.:l IJAN, JR., New Mexico
RniO.:ERT E. BAUMAN. Maryland

MICHAEL B. 3IETZ, Minority Staff Counsel I

NOTE.-The first listed minority member is counterpart to the subcommittee chalrman-



MAY 20, 1976.
U.S. BHouse of Representatioves,8
Washington, D.C.
DEAR COLLEAGUES: In recent months this committee's Subcommit-
tee on Energy and the Environment has been concerned with the
Nation's breeder reactor development program. At several of the sub-
committee's hearings, testimony was received concerning the potential
benefits and costs of the so-called breeder reactor.
Breeder reactors can utilize the bulk of uranium which occurs in
nature in contrast to the relatively small fraction which can be used
in fueling existing nuclear-generating stations. The Nation's reserves
of nuclear fuel can be expanded nearly 50 times, according to the study,
if breeder reactors esn be demonstrated to be safe and economical.
Owing to the significance of this issue, I am forwarding to you the
enclosed report, based in part on the subcommittee's hearings. This
report, "Issues Bearing on the Need for and the Timing of the U.S.
Liquid Metal Fast Breeder Reactor," was prepared by Frank von
Hippel, a consultant to the subcommittee.
MAY 13, 1976.
Chairman. Committee on Inferior and Insular Affairs, U.S. House of
Representatives, Washington, D.C.
DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: Transmitted herewith is a study entitled
"Issues Bearing on the Need for and the Timina of the U.S. Liquid
Metal Fast Breeder Reactor," prepared by Dr. Frank von Hippel, a
special consultant to the Subcommittee on Energy and the Environ-
Dr. von Hippel's analysis provides information vital to an under-
standing of the Nation's breeder reactor development program. The
study suggests that we are making a commitment to the liquid metal
fast breeder reactor technology prior to the need for such a commit-
ment and prior to our having information which will better tell us
thle nreeisep direction in which we should proceed.
The analv:ysis concludes that there are programs which would better
serve the Nation's interest than the one on which we are now em-
larkled. In particular, the studv indicates that insufficient effort is
beinar accorded uranium-conservring technologies which are more de-
veloped than the LMFBR technology. Exploitation of these technol-
ogies would stretch our available uranium reserves while research


moves ahead on several fronts, thereby allowing a more deliberate
consideration of the alternatives.
I believe this study demonstrates that the breeder reactor program
must receive continuing scrutiny by this and other committees of
Congress in order to insure that future decisions concerning breeder
reactors are based on more comprehensive analysis of the alternatives
than were the decisions leading to our present situation.
SrObcOT mn'ttee on Energy awl the Environment.


Letters of Transmittal------------------------------------------ III
Overview ------------------------------------------------------ 1
I. The rationale for the breeder reactor--------------------------- 5
II. Hazards of a plutonium economy------------------------------- 6
1. Environmental ------------------------------------6
2. Diversion --------------------------------------------- 7
III. Timing of the LMFBR decision------------------ -------------- 7
1. Rate of consumption of uranium-------------------------- 8
2. U.;S. uranium resources-------------------------------- 10
IV. Other uranium conserving reactors---------------------------- 13
1. The thorium economy and "near breeders"------------------ 13
2. Other breeder reactors--------------------------------- 14
V. Econoinmics ---------------------------------------------------- 15
VI. IMFBR programin management----------------------------------- 16
VII. The role of the Clinch River demonstration breeder reactor and suc-
ceeding "near commercial" breeder reactors in ERDA's LMFBR
development program-------------- --------------------------- 17
A. The uranium conservation value of a breeder reactor------------------ 27
B. Issues related to contamination of the environment by plutonium and
other transuranic elements----------------------- --------------- 28
C. The risk of diversion of plutonium to the illicit production of fission
explosives ----------------------------------------------------30
D. Safety advantages and disadvantages of the LMFBR---------------- 32
E. Other uranium conserving reactors-------------- --------------- 34
F. Factors bearing on the capital cost differences between light-water-
cooled and liquid-metal cooled breeder reactors- ---------------- 36
G, Some management problems in the LMFBR development program as
documented in GAO reports------- ------------------------------ 38

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in 2013

Current U.S. light water cooled reactors (LWR's) can release only
about 1 percent of the energy stored in uranium. At this level of
utilization, known U.S. reserves of high-grade uranium ore represent
an energy resource no greater than U.S. reserves of oil or natural gas
and are only a few percent as large as U.S. coal resources.
Despite this limited resource base, the Atomic Energy Commission
and its successor agency, the Energy Research and Development
Administration have projected for the year 2000 a nuclear-electric
industry two to four times larger (in terms of power produced) than
the total U.S. electrical utility industry in 1975.
If this power were produced by LWR's, currently estimated U.S.
resources of high-grade uranium ore would be exhausted in a matter
of decades. The AEC and ERDA have therefore made their number
one energy R. & D. priority the development of a "breeder" reactor
which would almost fully exploit the energy content of uranium.
Virtually all the attention-both in the United States and abroad-
has been focused on one breeder concept, the liquid metal-cooled fast
breeder reactor (LMFBR).
Both the need for and desirability of the breeder are currently under
hot debate:
With regard to the need, the proponents argue that uranium
(as exploited by the LMFBR) and coal are the only two energy
sources which can supply significantly increased amounts of
energy for the U.S. economy by the year 2000. They believe that
both of these resources must be exploited vigorously to compen-
sate for dwindling U.S. production of oil and natural gas and to
accommodate anticipated growth in energy consumption. The
opponents respond that increased efficiency in the use of energy
can make a massive buildup of nuclear power unnecessary in the
short term and that solar energy would be a benign alternative
to the LMFBR in the longer term.
Witlh regard to the desirability, the opponents emphasize the
fact that the LMFBR would commit the United States (and the
world) to a-"plutonium economy." They fear that the large-scale
processing of plutonium which would be associated with the
LMFBR technology would result in unacceptable levels of con-
tamination of the environment by this manmade element, in thefts
of plutonium by terrorist groups intent on making "homemade"
nuclear bombs, and to a more rapid spread of nuclear weapons
capability to currently nonnuclear nations. The proponents believe
that the problems of keeping plutonium out of the environment
and out of the hands of terrorists are manageable and that the

introduction of LMFBR technology would not significantly
exacerbate the proliferation problem.
To some extent the debate over the breeder has merged with the
larrer debate over the need and desirability of fission power generally.
To the extent that a vigorous breeder development program is symbolic
of a long-term national commitment to fission energy, this connection
may be legitimate. In the shorter term. however, the commection is not
so close: There may be reasons for delaying a final decision on the
breeder even if the hazards associated with current commercial nuclear
reactors are found to be acceptable.
The principal focus of concern specific to the LMAIFBR stems from
the fact that plutonium recycle is essential for the breeder whereas it
is a relatively marginal proposition for LWR's.
The plutoniumm econouyNW is so tightly connected with the breeder
technology because the LIIFBR exploits the 99 percent of uranium
which current reactors do not by transmuting ("breeding") it into the
chain reacting element plutonium. most of which must be recycled be-
fore it is consumed. LWVR's produce some plutonium but not enough
that recycling it will result in large increases in the efficiency of
uranium utilization.
Much of the uncertainty associated with the debate over the
LMFBR stems from the fact that, in the past. while much attention
was being devoted to solving the difficult technical problems of
design, too little attend ion was being devoted to the "soft" questions
which require an assessment of the performance of human beings and
their institutions:
Will the introduction of a U.S. civilian nuclear industry based
on a "plutonium economy" significantly speed the spread of nu-
clear weapons to more count ies?
Would a U.S. plutonium industry be well enough guarded to
prevent non'guovernmental groups from stealing plutonium and
manuiifacturiny their own nuclear weapons for )purposes of black-
mnail or terrorism?
Would a U.S. plutonium indllstry be well enough managed and
regulated to keep the "leakage" of plutonium and other long-lived
radioactive materials into the environment down to tolerable
As a result of the current debate, these questions are now receiving
serious attention Nit. at the best, it will be Soime time. probably years.
before there will be anything approatching a consensus concerning tlhe
ans;wers-either in the techlnical or in the larger political community.
In the, meant1inme it v.ould appear to beN wise to postpone for a n1u1-
ber of yNears final decisions about impleientincrg the phitoniun economy
conImercially-wit]i eitlier crirent IW R's or with breeders.
Revised estimates of future U.S. energy demand make this judg-
ment easier. Past projections implicitly assied(l that the real price
of energy would contintie to decline as it did during the 1950's and
190"'s. In fact, however, the dramatic increases of the past few years
of b1oth tile price of powerplmants and( fuel have alreadlv increased the
real price of energAv well above the 1950 price levels annd there is now
every expectation tiha tlie real price increases will continue-although
at a lower rat(e-for the indefinite future.

' With these price rises it seems reasonable to expect growth rates
in the demand for energy to decrease substantially as energy becomes
more expensive and increased efficiency in the use of energy becomes
worth investing in. Past official projections for the future growth of
nuclear energy are therefore beginning to look increasingly question-
The most recent of the ERDA projections (spring 1975) had nu-
clear energy generating electric power at an average rate of 440 mil-
lion to 880 million kilowatts by the year 2000-which is to be compared
with the approximately 200 million kilowatts generated by the entire
electrical utility industry in 1975. To obtain this enormous growth
rate. ERDA made the following assumptions: (a) Total U.S. energy
consumption would increase by between 80 to 160 percent by the year
2000, (b) The fraction of U.S. fuel devoted to the production of elec-
trical energy would approximately double (from about 25 percent to
over 50 percent), and (c) Nuclear-electric powerplants would gen-
erate between 55 and 76 percent of all electric power consumed in 2000
(up from approximately 10 percent in 1975).
Are these projections realistic? There appears to be an increasing
consensus both inside and outside ERDA that they are not. Even if the
utilities were able to obtain the necessary trillion or so dollars of capi-
tal, the nuclear industry were able to bring the plants into operation at
the necessary rate of 150 plants a year by the year 2000, and it was
possible to obtain acceptable sites for all of these powerplants, there
would still be the question as to who would buy all that power at the
new high prices. Even if the electrical share of the energy market
continues to expand, the slowed growth rate of total energy consump-
tion will result in a slower growth for electrical energy. This will in
turn bring about a decreased rate, of construction of new nuclear-elec-
tric capacity-a trend which is already well begun. It seems likely that
even the low end of ERDA's range of estimated year 2000 nuclear
capacity will turn out to be high-and in fact, an informal inquiry
at ERDA revealed that the projection which the agency described as
"moderate/low" a year ago is now labeled "high."
Lower growth rates of electrical consumption would save the United
States from any imminent danger of running out of high-grade ura-
nium ore. Currently ERDA estimates U.S. reserves and probable re-
sources of uranium at about 11/ million tons-enough to fuel approxi-
mately 360 million kilowatts of nuclear power for 30 years (the esti-
mated lifetime of a nuclear plant). This corresponds at a 65 percent
average capacity factor for a nuclear generating capacity of 550 mil-
lion kilowatts. It seems highly unlikely now that U.S. nuclear capacity
will exceed this value by the year 2000. By that time it is likely also
that additional uranium resources will have been identified and that
the nuclear fuel cycle can have been made as much as twice as efficient
as today in its use of uranium without plutonium recycle. There seems
therefore to be no reason to rush the decision to go ahead with the
LMFBR-or with any other version of the plutonium economy.
From this perspective it appears that the almost exclusive emphasis
on the LMFBR in the Nation's R. & D. program over the past decade
has been unfortunate. It has given us an energy option which may or


may not be exploited some decades hence, but it has left us with too
few options to be exploited during the next decades.
In view of the uncertain political future of fission, it is important
now to develop sulich alternative energy options. The objective of the
Nation's energy R. & D. program in these changing times should be
diversity and flexibility. From this perspectiVe it is encouraging to
see ERDI)A's activities increasing in the areas of energy conservation
and solar energy-. These efforts are still relatively small and tentative,
however, in comparison to the LMFBR program and the emphasis in
the Pre:ident's fiscal 1977 budget remains on fission: In this budget
s,:>9 million ;liit!iorization is imiue.-led for fissionll (mostly LMFBR
related) which is to be compared with $120 million for energy conser-
vation mid S160 million for solar energy. The increases over the pre-
vious biidet authorization are: $45 million for energy conservation,
."45 million for solar energy, and $22-4 million for fission. Obviously
funds should not be channeled into solar and energy conservation
research and development projects more rapidly than they can be
effectively utilized. Projects with major potential payoffs are being
identified in these areas, however and, unless available energy R. & D.
funds are. channeled preferentially into those areas, there appears to
be a real danger that the lion's share of fmundinc increases will be ab-
sorbed by the continual cost overruns of the LMFBR program.
If flexibility and diversity are required in the Nation's overall en-
ergy R. & D. program they are also important within the fission
R. & D. program itself. Unfortunately the trend here seems to be. in the
opposite direction. Virtually the entire fission R. & D. effort is now
devoted to solving the problems of the LMFBR and LWR teclmnolo-
gies. The snowballing budget is not evidence of new initiatives, rather
it reflects mainly tremendous cost overruns and efforts to deal with
proliferating safety issues without making any basic changes in the
reactor designs. In fact, in the future annals of fission R. & D.. fiscal
1976 is likely to be remembered less for the results of the half a billion
dollars invested in LMFBR technology than for the virtual terminal,
tion of R. & D. on two reactor desim.s based on the "thorium economy"
which offered an alternative to the "plutonium economy." It is not
certain at. this time that a fission fuel cycle. based on thorium would
ultimately prove to be more benigin than one based on the plutonium
breeder. It is certain, however, that many of the problems would be
quite different. At a time wlen the concept of a plutonium economy is
under such vigorous attack, one would think that interest in thoriium-
based reactors would increase. Instead tlfe commercial developer of
the hi'Zh-temperatire gas-cooled reactor went. out of the business for
laRek of Federal interest and the biidzet for work on the Molten Salt
Breeder Reactor was cut from $4 million in fiscal 1976 to zero in the
ad rn insist rat ion's propostI budget for 1077.
Tlhe purpose of the report which follows is to provide to Congress
additional background on the principal issues in the LMFBR debate.



In the winter of 1973-74 the oil exporting nations demonstrated
dramatically that control over the international oil market had shifted
from the consumers to the suppliers. The price of international oil
rose several fold putting a serious strain on the economies of the oil
importing nations. Perhaps as important was the discovery by the
major oil exporting nations of the Middle East of the political lever-
age inherent in their control over the fuel supplies of the oil import-
ing nations. In the United States and in many other nations increased
"energy independence" became a national policy goal.
Since that time it has become apparent, however, that increasing the
domestic supplies of energy will not be an easy task. In the United
States the production of both oil and natural gas have begun to decline
and current estimates of recoverable U.S. resources of these fuels indi-
cate that it is unlikely that they can continue to supply the bulk of
U.S. energy beyond the year 2000.
The resource situation for coal is much more favorable but there are
very serious environmental and occupational health problems cur-
rently associated with both coal mining and coal burning. Even greater
environmental problems can be expected with the exploitation of the
other major U.S. fossil fuel resource, oil shale.
An additional concern which applies to the use of all fossil fuels
stems from the fact that about one half of the carbon dioxide produced
by their combustion in the past has accumulated in the atmosphere.
Some climatologists are concerned that a continued buildup in atmos-
pheric CO2 may result within decades in changes in the Earth's climate
large enough to have a major impact on world agriculture. [1]
The stage therefore appears to be set for the introduction into the
U.S. energy supply of one or more major new energy sources not
dependent on fossil fuels. Currently the prime candidates are the fis-
sion of heavy atoms, sunlight, and the fusion of light atoms.
In the past decades the greatest priority in U.S. energy research
and development has been accorded to the development of economical
fission power. Recently, however, the energy crisis and controversy
concerning the safety, and environmental hazards associated with fis-
sion energy have led to a dramatic increase in the levels of funding
devoted to solar and fusion energy. It will be several years, however,
in the case of solar energy and perhaps decades in the case of fusion,
before their potentials and limitations are as well established as are
those of fission energy. It would therefore appear to be premature to
foreclose the future of fission energy before the policy issues relating
to the alternatives become more clearly defined.
It is in this context then that we confront the issues posed by the
proposed liquid metal cooled fast breeder reactor (LMFBR).
NoTE.-All footnotes to the text appear at the end of the report and begin on p. 21.

The development of the breeder reactor is being proposed because
current U.S. water cooled reactors are able to release only about 1 per-
cent of the stored energy in natural uranium. An LMFBR would make
possible the release of over 50 percent. (See app. A.)
The factor of 50 or so increase in the extraction of energy from
uranium is important because high-grade uranium ore is much less
abundant than high grade fossil fuel deposits in the Earth's crust.
Estimates of the U.S. economically recoverable coal resources, for
example are of the order of 1 trillion tons [2]-enough to support U.S.
energy consumption at. the current rate for about 300 years. U.S.
resources of high-grade uranium ore are estimated to be of the order
of millions of tons.[3] A million tons of uranium is equivalent to
aJ)proximately 2 trillion tons of coal if used to fuel a breeder reactor
but it is only equivalent to about 40 billion tons of coal if used in cur-
rent commercial nuclear reactors. With current, technology, therefore,
high-grade uranium ore represents a rather small energy resource
relative to coal. With a breeder reactor the uranium resource would
grow in two ways: The releasable energy in a pound of uranium ore
would be increased by a factor of 50 or so, as has already been noted,
and it would become economic to mine much lower grades of uranium
ore-even to extract dissolved uranium from ocean water. Uranium-
and thorium-would then come to represent very large energy re-
sources indeed in comparison to the fossil fuels.

"While the LMFBR would remove the short-term resource limita-
tions on fission energy, it would also tend to exacerbate some of the
troublesome problems of our current. fission power technology. In par-
ticular, it would require the introduction of a "plutonium economy."
Plutonium is produced by conventional water-cooled reactors just
ns it is by tHe LM.IFBR. The LMFBR technology requires recycle of
the produced plutonium, however, while the water-cooled reactors do
jot. R(eycle of the produced plutonium and the leftover uranium-235
in the spent fuel from a conventional water-cooled reactor increases
the amount of energy extracted from the original uranium ore by
less than 50 percent [4] and it is a marginal decision whether the fuel
value of the recovered uranium and plutonium justifies the cost of the
reprocessing of the fuel. [5] In contrast, the LMFBR technology is
preminiPd on the chemical purification and recycling of the fuel tens
of tines before all tlhe uranium li as been converted into plutonium and
Tlhe plutonium economy raises two types of concerns:*

Plutonium is an extrem(,el y liazardous and long-lived environmental
contaminant. The more that it is handled, the larger the fraction which

*P-rhnpq the m a.t qustnlnpd effort to bring these concerns to public attention hn. bfen
mrid. hv thb Nthrent i llc. oinreps Defense Council (beginning with the lnwtult which resulted
in fiho A .VC" "I,MFRR Progrnn Environment TnImpcrit Stntvment"), nnd with crltlnnes of
hall Progr:arnm growlnIs ,t ,rf Dr. Thorn Coehrnn s hook. "The Liquid- Meto i at Rr Ior
I'acttr: An Environmental and ELconomic Critique" (IResource. for the tture, 1974.

will tend to find its way into the environment. ERDA has set as an
objective the containment of plutonium and the associated long-lived
radioactive isotopes at a level where only one atom out of a billion
processed in the LMFBR fuel cycle will leak out into the environ-
ment.[7] Various groups including the EPA have raised questions as
to whether such an objective is achievable in practice. If it is not, then
we must face the question on whether achievable containment levels
are tolerable. (See app. B.)
It takes a rather elaborate facility to separate plutonium from the
highly radioactive fission products. Once this has been done, how-
ever, the plutonium is easy enough to handle so that there is legitimate
concern that a small group of individuals with rather modest resources
might be able to steal some of the material and fabricate, a crude
nuclear weapon. [8] Less than 20 pounds of plutonium would be re-
quired for the manufacture of a crude nuclear explosive with an
expected yield equivalent to more than 100 tons of TNT. By the year
2000 approximately 20,000 times this much new plutonium would be
produced each year in the projected fission economy of about 1,000
large 1 million kilowatt. reactors.[9] (See app. C.)
On the international level, the prospect of a plutonium economy
raises the issue of a proliferation of nuclear weapons states based on
plutonium separated out from the spent fuel of nuclear powerplants.
Establishing the plutonium economy as an integral part of nuclear
energy technology could be a significant step in facilitating the pro-
motion of other nations with nuclear powerplants to the nuclear
weapons "club."
Aside from the issues posed by the plutonium economy, the LMFBR
seems to have both safety advantages and disadvantages when com-
pared with current water-cooled reactors. It is unclear at the present
time therefore which design is safer. (See app. D.)
The timing of the decision in the United States on whether or not
to go ahead with the breeder reactor depends in part on the larger
energy policy context discussed above, that is, on a continuing com-
parison of the relative promise and hazards of the alternative energy
supply technologies.
The decision to go ahead with the LMFBR or some other uranium
conserving reactor design will depend also upon the rate at which
the U.S. resources of high-grade uranium ore are depleted.* This rate
of depletion in turn depends on two factors: (1) The rate at which
U.S. reactors consume uranium, (2) the total U.S. resources of high-
grade uranium ore.
*For the present purposes we will ignore the possibility of the United States importing
(or exporting) signiflcint amounts of uranium. According to current estimates the Unitc-T
States possesses approximately one-third of the world's high-grade uranium resnurcee
outside the Communist bloc. (Testimony of Robert Ninineer. "Oversight Hearings on
Nuclear Energy-Part II," June 5, 1975. p. 40.3.) This may merely reflect, however, the
relatively advanced state of exploration in the United States.

Essentially all currently operating U.S. commercial nuclear power
reactors are light water-cooled reactors-LWR's.*t As of June 30,
1975. the total U.S. nuclear generating capacity totaled less than
37.000 megawatts electric (MWe). Additional capacity totaling 77.000
lMWe was under construction, however and a further 104.000 M1We
of capacity was on order for a grand total of 218.000 fMWe. [10] The
total U.S. electrical generating capacity as of the end of 1975 was
about 492.000 megawatts. [11] The nuclear capacity built, under con-
struction or on order is therefore equivalent to almost one half of the
Nation's fossil fueled generating capacity.
A 1.000 megawatt electric (MWe) light water-cooled reactor-the
most common U.S. power reactor-currently requires about 165 tons of
unenriched uranium oxide (U30O) per year. [12] By increasing the
extraction of uranium-235 out of the natural uranium at the enrich-
ment plant back to past levels, this requirement could be reduced by
approximately 16 percent. [13] With recycle of uranium it could be
reduced by a further 17 percent and a final 17-percent reduction could
be obtained by recycling the produced plutonium for a total potential
saving of approximately 40 percent. [4] For the approximately 200,000
MWe of capacity currently built, under construction, or on order,
operating for a 30-year lifetime, the U308s requirements in the absence
of any of these changes would be approximately 1.2 million tons. [14]
With all of thle changes, the requirements could be reduced to approxi-
mately 700,000 tons.
In testimony before the subcommittee. Roger Legassie, ERDA's As-
sistant Administrator for Planning and Analysis, presented a projec-
tion of nuclear capacity for the year 2000 as between 625.000 and
1.250,000 MWe. This nuclear capacity was assumed to generate be-
tween 50 and 75 percent of the total electrical energy consumed in that
year which was assumed in turn to account for approximately 50 per-
cent of all fuel energy consumed in that year-compared with ap-
proximately 26 percent currently. The total U.S. energy budget in the
ve:ir 2000 was assumed to be between 1.8 and 2.6 times larger than the
19.73 U.S. energy budget.[15] Similar electrical energy growth projec-
tions were offered to the committee by Robert Smith, president of
Public Service Electric and Gas of New Jersey and chairman of the
Energy Analysis Division Executive Committee of the Edison Elec-
tric Tnstitite.[16] The r0inge of year 2000 nuclear energy capacity
project ios offered the subicoinnittee in testimony by Johln Hill. Dep-
utv Administrator of the Federal Energy Administration. 600.000 to
700,oo0 me0awatt0. fell at the low end of ERDA's range of projections
but still represented an enormous growth.[17]
If suchl growth were realized and if new uranium conserving nu-
clear reactor designs were not introduced, tlien the 30-year uranium
rquirevilients for U.S. reactors operating in the year 2000 would be
invreast-d threefold to sixfold beyond the requirements for the capac-
ity already under construction, being built, or on order.
'hlip ,'oling wtiter Ins tprmne, "light" tn dl.stingulRh It from the "heavy water" used la
':i nnd11n lypo piwiwr rPnrt',r. In henvy wntpr "ie'hry hydlrogfTn" or dvfnterthim atoms are
iuiihtltiftr l d for Ilth or'ili nry hiyilrogn antomM In n hO. II vy water is PxpenRsive but hag
th- ,1 v:ininive i f entitiring fi-.w r ne'iuro is thnan nre' p1pttir? d In light wniater.
,fine 1 small :!0 nil:ll'i.iDn watt lltHig TemIK-rature Gas Cooled Reactor (IITGR) has Just
been put Into operations In (7oloritlu.10

Quite a different perspective on electrical energy growth projections
was offered to the subcommittee by Professors Duane Chapman and
Timothy Mount of Cornell University. [18] Professors Chapman and
Mount pointed out that the past rapid increases in demand for electri-
cal energy-an approximate doubling every 10 years since 1,'20 [19]-
were accompanied by corresponding dramatic decreases in the cost of
electric power relative to the costs of other commodities.
Between 1950 and 1970 this relative cost fell by a factor of two.[20]*
In their testimony they pointed out that this trend of declining real
prices of electricity has now been reversed with a 50-percent increase
in the relative prices of electricity from 1972 to 1974. With these price
increases they expect a dramatic slowing in the growth rate of electric
energy demand.
Another witness Dr. Robert Williams, then director of research of
the Institute for Public Policy Alternatives of the State University
of New York, and formerly senior scientist at the Ford Foundation's
energy policy project directed the subcommittee's attention [21] to a
study done for the Ford Foundation's energy policy project (EPP)
by Edward A. Hudson and Dale W. Jorgenson of Data Resources Inc.
(DRI).[22] The findings of this study appeared to support the con-
tentiors of Chapman and Mount.
The DRI study uses an approximate mathematical description of
the U.S. economy to estimate the effects of price increases in electrical
and other forms of energy on the rest of the economy. The economists
used their model to determine what changes in energy prices and Gov-
ernment policies would be required for energy consumption to con-
tinue to grow at the historical rate-or to grow at specified lower rates.
They found that a continuation of the dramatic relative price de-
creases of the. past would have to occur for electricity to realize growth
rates in demand such as those projected by the Government and the
utilities, that is, the relative price of electricity would have to drop
by 50 percent to bring about the fourfold increase in electrical de-
mand by the year 2000 that ERDA characterized as "moderate to
low." On the other hand, with a rather modest 30-percent increase in
the relative price of electricity, it was found that the consumption of
electricity would only double by the year 2000.
Quite encouragingly the DRI study found that such very different
projections in the relative prices of and demand for electricity had lit-
tle effect on the growth of employment or of the economy. The higher
prices had primarily the effect of stimulating increased efficiency in
the. use of energy in the satisfaction of e.pentially the same final con-
Sumer demands. Quantitatively the DRI analysis showed a slightly
reduced GNP (4 percent subtracted from a real growth of 130 percent)
in the year 2-000 in this "technical fix" scenario but al slightly increased
employment (3 percent, added to a growth of 50 percent min man- I.hours.)
The increased employment ste., med from the fact tint energyv-conserv-
ing production procedures will tend to be slightly more labor intensive.
Dr. Williams also submitted for the record a paper published )by
John G. Myers of the Conference Board. [23] This paper points out
*In this connection It is interesting to note thlat. although the consminiption of elec-
tricity grew much more rapidly than ihe iinaitional proiiduct (nri.iiured in constant
dollars) between 1950 and 1970 (5 times compared to 2 times), due to the rl.-ilive pri.,'
decrease of electricity, the share of the gross uiatf6nal product beinin ex."l-nde on the
purchase of electric energy Increased only slowly-by approximnateIly 25 percent ovcr Ile
same period.


that, despite a decrease of 24 percent in the price of energy relative to
other commodities between 1947 and 1970. the average rate of growth
in energy. consumption over the same period was approximately 0.6
percent slower than the average rate of (real) growth of the gross na-
tional product. With the recent increase in energy prices Mr. Myers
suggested that the difference between these two growth rates might
open up to 2 percent.. that is, that only about a 11/2 percent energy con-
sumption growth rate would be required to support a growth rate of
31, percent in the real G-NP.
To substantiate the DRI assertion that it would be possible to in-
crease the real GNP by 130 percent while increasing total energy con-
sumption by only approximately 50 percent (that is, to increase the
ratio of real GNP to total energy consumed by 50 percent), Dr. Wil-
liams offered a detailed list of currently feasible and economically
justified measures for increasing dramatically the. efficiency of our cur-
rent use of energy. He stated that. if these measures were adopted
throughout the economy, the amount of energy required to produce an
average, unit of the gross national product could be reduced by ap-
proximately 40 percent.
Of course, in view of the peaking of U.S. production of our prin-
cipal fuels, oil and natural gas (currently about 75 percent of U.S.
energy supply), one can expect a continued shift of the Nation's econ-
omy to electric energy derived from coal and uranium fueled power-
plants. Even if the electric sector were to grow to the point where it
consumed 50 percent of the total primary fuel used by the economy
(up from 26 percent. in 1973), however, the average growth rate of the
electrical energy sector would be less than 3 percent greater than that
of total energy consumption-approximately the historical difference.
A reduced growth rate in overall energy consumption would therefore
be reflected in a reduced growth rate in electrical energy consumption.
It appears that the analysis presented by Chapman, Mount, and Wil-
liams call into substantial question the administration's projections of
electrical energy growth.

The, subcommittee. heard testimony on the uranium resource situa-
tion from Mr. Rolert Nininger, ERDA's Assistant Director for Raw
Materials. [24] Mr. Nininzer testified that, as of January 1, 1975,
ERDA estimated that the United States had in well-established re-
serves approximately 690,000 tons of U309n-ostly in uranium ore
of a gra(le, comh)arable with that, currently being minedl. (Included was
90,000 tons classed as being recoverable as a byproduct from phosphate
or coi)per imlnng b.v tlhe year 2000). Mr. Nininger also presented
EIRDIA es)tiilates tlhiat. an additional "potential resource" of app)roxi-
iately 2.9 million tons of U-.,O in ores of sinil.r grade was still to be
foind for a grand total est imat ed resotirce base of 3.6 million tons U,3O,
in "high gtrad(", ores. Tlhlese "lhigh grade" ores currently being mine(l
a11erag approximately 0.2 percent urani um by weight. [251] The ore
wihi Mr. Nininger included in his estimate went down to approxi-
muately 0.06 percent uranium by weight. [26] *

*Althougli In a pprevntNge sense this ore npppnrs qlltp low grande, In nn energy sense
It 1 nwit. i' :vn at 0.1 ,' re,,ut uranlihn by weight, 1 ton of uraniuum ore can provide the
4*.ii-vll-:Ti t ener.iv lf 20 ton- of 'ril WIVlin useNd to, fupl a wnter-coile.(l reactor and the
E'jailvnlcut to 1,000 tonriN of coal when used to fuel a breeder reactor.


If the United States exhausts its high-grade uranium resources, then
it will have to turn to lower grade resources. ERDA's current informa-
tion is that the United States has no significant uranium resources in
ores between 0.07 and 0.008 percent uranium by weight. The next major
'resource is int Chattanooga shale which is estimated by ERDA to con-
tain approximately 13 million tons of UO, at a concentration ranging
from 0.0080 to 0.0025 percent. [27] At 0.0050 percent the uranium in a
ton of ore would have about the same energy value as fuel for a U.S.
water-cooled reactor as a ton of coal for a coal-fueled powerplant.
ERDA believes that most of the mining would have to be done under-
ground. Current underground coal mining would fuel only approxi-
mately 125,000 megawatts of coal powerplant capacity at a 65-percent
capacity factor. Approximately 100,000 equivalent full-time miners
work to provide this coal. [28] Supporting a nuclear energy capacity
of several hundred thousand megawatts by mining Chattanooga shale
does not therefore appear to be an attractive prospect.
The subcommittee also heard from Mr. Milton Searl who had a
much more optimistic view than ERDA of the U.S. potential uranium
resources. [-29] Mr. Searl, manager of the energy supply studies pro-
gram of the electric utilities' Electric Power Research Institute, ex-
pressed his belief that ERDA's current estimates of uranium resources
in high-grade uranium ore will prove to be low for two principal
1. ERDA's resource estimates are dominated by ore deposits at rela-
tively shallow depths. Mr. Searl suggested that this shallow distribu-
tion was not a result of the actual distribution of deposits with depthi
but instead simply reflected the fact that shallower deposits are easier
to find. As support, for this contention Mr. Sear] noted that the aver-
age depth of ERDA's $8 per pound U308 cost category of uranium
reserves was approximately 400 feet in 1973-quite close to the aver-
age depth of exploratory drilling over the previous several years. [30J
Searl pointed out that, if uranium ore were indeed distributed uni-
formly with depth down to say 4,000 feet, then the sum of ERDA's
resource figure plus past production (assuming that it also was at an
average depth of 400 feet) should be multiplied by approximately a
factor of 5 to obtain a corrected estimate for resources. He noted, how-
ever, that the deeper uranium ore would be both more difficult to find
land more costly to mine.
2. Not only is the exploration of the country at depth incomplete, it
is also far from complete over the area of the United States. Mr. Searl
testified that: "A review of the literature convinced us that the total"
prospective area in the United States potentially productive was 30
times the known producing area." Assuming that no areas with larger
reserves remained to be discovered, he estimated on the basis of ex-
perience with the distribution of other mineral resources that other
districts with a total uranium resource approximately three times.
greater than that of the currently producing area would be found. "30
Correcting the ERDA resource estimates for thee.e two considera-
tions would raise them bv a factor of 20 to 72 million tons. In actual
fact, in a document Iuhnmitted for the record [30] IMr. Searl sniiested,
however, that the United States has s resources base of hirh-rTrade
uranium ore in the range 13 to 29 million tons. for the entire ITniterT
States. This estimate is not comparable to ERDA's current estimate,

71-r,-RCr,- --3


however, since it was based on a 1973 ERDA estimate of certain classes
of reserves totaling 1 million tons.
If Mr. Searl is correct, then there is much more high-grade uranium
ore to be found in the United States beyond the 3 million tons of U.08
equivalent estimated by ERDA. This would be in keeping with history
where ERDA's estimates in one category for which we have historical
information (less than $15 per pound U308 forward costs*) have in-
creased from 570,000 tons 131] in 1967 to approximately 1 million
tons [31] in the period 1969-73, to approximately 2 million tons [26]
at the beginning of 1975.
Such arguments are not a sufficient basis for public policy, however,
and it is important that the uncertainty in U.S. high-grade uranium
resources be greatly reduced.
Since 1958 uranium exploration has been left to industry with the
AEC-now ERDA-largely playing the bookkeeper's role. This was
adequate when the required forward reserve was 8 to 10 years current
production and production was averaging only about 12,000 tons of
IVO, per year. [25] With the projected demand rising to 40,000 tons
per year before 1985, and the breeder decision depending upon the
adequacy of our uranium reserves to supply the lifetime requirements
of reactors built in tlhe year 2000, however, it will be necessary to make
an effort to identify uranium resources which goes beyond that which
is justified by the short-term planning requirements of the uranium
mining industry itself.
In response to this obvious need, the AEC embarked in 1973 on its
own national uranium resource evaluation (NITRE) program funded
at the level of $7 million [32] for fiscal years 1974 and 1975. The result
in the first 18 months' work has been an increase of 1.2 million tons in
ERDA's UhO, resource estimate. [24] This first phase of the NURE
program which was programed to be completed by January 1976 in-
volv-es the assembly and analysis of existing information with experi-
enced uranium geologists making estimates based on industry data,
field examinations, available geologic reports, discussion with other
Federal. State, and university geologists, as well as their own experi-
ence and judgment. Each geographic area is examined and judged on
key geologic characteristics and compared with areas of known ura-
mium reserves and ore controls. [24]
The second phase of the NITRE program, which is to be completed
,y 1980, would involve ERDA developing new resource information
through an aggressive program of geologic and geochemical investi-
gations5, geologic drilling and aerial and other geophysical surveys.
f[."] T''le N'RE program would also include an effort to upgrade the
exploration tecllhniquelS of industry. The uranium industry expended
approxiiatetly $5.0 million on exploration efforts in 1973 and has been
rapilly increasing its efforts since. [25] It appears obvious that this
pioQ,,raim should l)e pursued with the highest priority.
"lI)RA's iiraniuim resource evaluation program should also be im-
prioved( wl 'ere l)posible. Mr. Scal sulggested a number of possibilities
for such(. imprioveiiw ts including g:
l"'lviinn ica-t. lr iro l).'R pa limntcdi nnt, f,,r mnilning. hih linr. nnd milling of Iho
ori, p il% royaliP-4. It i,,,ls not Inclinid, "41iink csos(c." a.%;h as o' s jilready expended in
,. p1iira tlti1i iiizdl Ir1iiPrtv iia, qiil.llloni nor dmi., It iniludh pro'lts iir Intiir st. 1. Pl0 to Inflntion
iit ii f tI l S1I IIIvIII I- |1M t i 'l( s unV I nf 11 iiiITle., thf 'more f'\penrlvf O rp i n i pl irtleiil' :ir fnrw nrd ,'ift
i.lei',orv% will t-nrl to n ve intot Ihi' next hl1lipr fiitro'iry. In ,,rd'r for rpmnircep tn Increase
ili.r' ,Iirr, the r. ui f nf ,ll..vfiry orf nrw ri. tources must ext'veoi the rate of mining plus
attrit in ,Ilii to Iifintion nti oafitlivr effetl..

1. An assessment of whether past exploration efforts ignored ura-
nium deposits which were not then of economic interest but might be
by the end of the century.*
2. A systematic approach to understanding the distribution of ura-
nium deposits as a function of depth, size, and grade.
3. Making ERDA's data bank on uranium resources more accessible
to outside analysts who might be able to suggest improvements in
ERDA's approach to the problem.
In view of the importance of the uranium resource question, it
might be appropriate to convene a qualified review group-possibly
under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences-to review
the NURE program. This review should assess the adequacy of the
coverage of this program as well as the effectiveness with which it
utilizes the expertise available in other Government agencies such as
the U.S. Geological Survey and in universities. A considerably higher
level of funding for the uranium resource assessment program could
be justified if such funds could be effectively spent.
The discussion above has ignored the fact that there are more than
the two types of nuclear reactors discussed so far: The standard U.S.
light water cooled reactor (LWR) and the proposed liquid metal
cooled fast breeder reactor (LMFBR). In fact, in addition to other
proposed breeder reactor designs, there are at least two additional
developed reactor types whose requirements for uranium per kilowatt
hours of electricity generated would lie between those of the LWR and
LMFBR. These reactors are the commercially successful Canadian
heavy water reactor (CANDU) and the U.S. high-temperature gas-
cooled reactor (HTGR) whose commercial future is currently in ques-
tion. Use of these two reactor types would reduce the uranium require-
ments per kilowatt hour by a factor of approximately two with either
a once through or recycle fission economy. (See app. E.)
In practice, of course, there would be difficulties in substituting these
reactors for LWR's in the U.S. reactor market. Neither the HTGR
nor the CANDU has an obvious economic advantage over the light-
water reactors with the uranium prices expected over the next decade
or so and they have the disadvantage of competing with an estab-
lished reactor type. In addition, even ifthe reluctance of the market
could be overcome, it would take a. considerable time before the indus-
try could be geared up to produce either of these reactor types in
quantities comparable to the numbers of light-water reactors currently
being built. It should be noted, however, that both of these objections
apply at least asstrongly to the LMFBR.

If a decision were made to go to a fuel recycle economy with any
of the current generation of commercial power reactors, then the
greatest conservation of uranium would be possible if the uranium 235
were separated from the uranium2-8 which makleq up the re-maininr
99.3 percent of natural uranium and were mixed with thorium instead.
*One wonders In this connection whether It might not be pnsslble to "plhzyhnck" a grPfit
de;il of uranium exploration on drilling efforts aimed at deeviojidng new oil ainid gms reserves.


In such an arrangement a new chain reacting element uranjium 233
would be bred out of the thorium instead of the plutonium which is
bred out of uranium .218. For the LWVR. HTGR, and CANDU which all
use slowed down neutrons in their chain reactions, conversion in the
thorium-uranium fuel cycle would be somewhat more efficient than
in the nraniumrplutoniumni fuel cycle. The opposite is true for the
LM.FBR which uses fast neutrons in the chain reaction.
One advantage of the uranium-thorium fuel cycle is that use of it
would allow an evolutionary development of current reactor designs
toward designs which would use uranium more and more efficiently.
Thus both the HTGR and the CANDU could probably be upgraded
to at. least near-breeder status. [33] In fact ERD)A is currently fund-
ing what is intrinsically a more difficult development project: the
upgrading of the Shippingport light water cooled reactor to the status
of a breakeven breeder reactor-a reactor which utilizes uranium as
efficiently as the proposed LMIFBR but unlike the LMFBR does not
breed significant amounts of surplus fissionable material to fuel new
reactors. [33]
With ERDA's projected growth rate for the U.S. nuclear power
capacity and its estimates of U.S. uranium reserves, it would probably
be impossible to introduce HTGR's or CANDIrs rapidly enough to
prevent a severe uranium shortage with the LMFBlR. In fact in the
short term uranium supply and enrichment capacity problem might
be exacerbl)ated by the introduction of uranium conserving reactors
since many designs have greater initial fuel requirements than con-
ventional reactors although their requirements for makeup fuel are
less. In such designs it might be a decade after initial operation before
the net savings began to accrue. [33] If the nuclear power growth
rate turns out to be significantly slower or U.S. uranium resources are
found to be significantly larger, however, then this option might prove
to be quite attractive. An added incentive for exploring it is provided
Iby the fact that the uranium-flthorium fuel cycle might have advan-
tages, over the uranium-plutonium fuel cycle with respect to environ-
mental contamination and/or safeguards against diversion of fuel
ma trials to use in nuclear explosives. .
Tn addition to the L.IAFBR two other breeder reactor concepts have
belei seriously put forward by U.S. nuclear energy technologists: the
molten snlt br',der reactor (MSBR) and the gas cooled fast breeder
reactor (GFBR).
J.fOWh S- it Breederr r Rernaor JJ.?IBR).-The molten salt breeder
1iictfor is a concept which Ins been developed and embodied in a smnll
test reactor at Oak Ridge National Laboratorv. It is a reactor which
opeIrates onl a thorium fuel cycle with thermal neutrons. It i` pro-
miotfed fioii a neiar breeder to ibrePeder status by having its fuel in
miolteni formn mixed with the coolant. This makes it possible to pirify
,nd re','vcle the fuel continuilously thlierebyl keeping nrlitron c.r)tIlrinif
iiipuritivs at a lower level than would lbe forcilble with a solid fueled
reactor. Over the pIist several vears thlie MSBRI development procrram
ll.s bew'iln llinitilined -it a level sufirinent to con(ullct rno,'erel and devel-
op)ii)ent oni key technical problems and retaiin the MSBR concept as

a potential backup to solid fuel breeder reactors. [34] In the admin-
istration's proposed fiscal 1977 budget no funds are included for the
continuation of the development of the MSBR.
Gas Cooled Fast Breeder Reactor.-This is a concept developed
principally by the General Atomics Co. with some utility and Federal
support. The idea is to combine the helium coolant and prestressed
concrete pressure vessel technology developed by General Atomics for
the HTGR with the LMFBR fuel technlmology being developed by
ERDA. The helium coolant of the GFBR would interfere less with
the passage of neutrons from fuel rod to fuel rod in the reactor core
than would the liquid sodium coolant in the LMFBR. As a result the
GFBR would have a somewhat higher breeding ratio. The GFBR
would have the safety disadvantage, however, that its coolant would
be under high pressure and would consequently be expelled in case of
a rupture in the pressure vessel.
Currently the LMFBR concept is receiving the overwhelming per-
centage of breeder reactor development funding, both in the United
States and elsewhere. Some experts have suggested that it may prove
to be a false economy not to have developed more aggressively an
alternative breeder concept if the LMFBR development program
produces a reactor which is either not sufficiently safe or economic
or if the plutonium economy proves to be unacceptable for either en-
vironmental or safeguards reasons. In such a case a thermal breeder
reactor or near breeder based on the thorium economy would differ in
enough respects from the LMFBR so that it might not encounter the
same objections.
V. EcoNOMIcs
A breeder system reactor would only require about 2 percent. as much
uranium to be mined as a light-water reactor per kilowatt-hour of
energy generated. The fact that this would stretch U.S. uranium re-
sources has already been mentioned. It would also be an economic ad-
vantage, however, which would increase as high-grade uranium ores
became depleted and the price of uranium increased.
On the other hand, the capital costs for LMFBR's would probably
be higher than those of a light-water reactor. (See app. F.) Dr. John
J. Taylor, then vice president and general manager for Advanced
Nuclear Energy Systems at the Westinghouse Electric Corp., the
prime contractor for the Clinch River LMFBR demonstrator reactor
told the subcommittee on June 6, 1975, that he believed that a com-
mercial LMFBR in 1990 would have a plant capital cost than a water
reactor of equivalent capacity $125 higher per kilowatt generating ca-
pacity-1982 dollars. [35] Similar conclusions had been arrived at by
the Studies and Evaluation Group of Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
In order for the first LMFBR's to be a commercial success, it would
be necessary for their capital cost disadvantage to be made up by
savings in fuel costs. The subcommittee heard testimony from Dr.
Thomas R. Stauffer, an economist at Harvard University, on this
point. [37] Stauffer presented a preview of an analysis of the economics
of the LMFBR done by himself, R. S. Palmer '(General Electric),
and H. L. Wycoff (Commonwealth Edison Co.) for the Breeder
Reactor Corp. [38] This analysis calculates the allowable cost capital

differentials between an LMFBR and an LWR for different prices
of uranium oxide (U30ss). Working in 1975 dollars Stauffer, and
others, conclude that, for UsO8 cost averaging $20 per pound over
the 30 year lifetime of an LWR. an LMFBR would be competitive
if its capital costs perunit capacity did not exceed those of the LWR
by more than approximately $115 per kilowatt generating capacity.
For $60 per pound UsO8 the corresponding capital cost differential
went up to approximately $290. This analysis is generally more favor-
able to the LMFBR than a previous analysis [39J-apparently because
of different assumptions concerning the discount rates and relative
effects of inflation on capital and fuel costs. The average costs of
U3Os in 1974 was approximately $8 per pound. [40] The future price
will depend upon the size of the resource base, the rate at which it is
consumed and the competitiveness of the market. As has already been
noted, ERDA's current estimate is that the U.S. resource of UsO8 at
prices of less than $15 forward cost per pound is approximately 2 mil-
lion tons. [41] This would sustain an LWR capacity large enough to
provide all the electric power currently consumed in the United
states for over 30 years. [42] If the nuclear sector should grow
rapidly beyond this capacity, as is projected by ERDA, then the 2
million tons would be exhausted more quickly.

The management record of the AEC (now ERDA) in the LMFBR
development program has been plagued by cost overruns, schedule
slippages, and other indications of management difficulties. The
following notable examples will give the flavor:
The estimated cost of the fast flux test facility has climbed from
$87.5 to $622 million in 7 years while its capabilities have been rediiuced
and the projected completion date has slipped by 5 years.
The capabilities of the sodium pump test facility were cut back
in 19712 wlien its cost estimates rose from $.8S million to $25.2 million.
Now ERDA is redlesigning the facility to have increased capabilities
again for a total ultimate cost estimated cilrrently at $57.2.
The Clinch River demonstration breed(ler reactor was originally
supposed to be a demonstration commercial reactor whliose costs were
to be shared approximately equally by the utilities and the Federal
Government. In 3 years the project hlas slipped by 3 years, the esti-
Jmated cost lias increased by 130 percent to $1.7,36 billion, and the
Fed(leral Government lias as.nsumed all thle cost overruns. (See
Obviously ilnprov(iients in the manageenl(t of the LMFBR
program are called for and (changes llha ve l)ee(l luade :
1. In Nowvenber 1975 the responsible( Division of Reactor Research
and Development (RRD) was reorganiized to have a structure reflect-
ing tle( various develop lnt proj(e( a(d "to give in(lividual assistant
directors more directt autllority," [43] over these projects.
2. In 45 EI)A ip)lemented a new mainagtnement control system'
which "is intended to provide increased visibility and better control
over RRID programs." [43]
At the samna time prol)lems persist in the management of the Clinch
River breeder reactor project where tihe past arramigemnents have been


termed "complex and potentially cumbersome" by GAO (See
app. G.)

The Clinch River demonstration breeder reactor (CRBR) project
is currently the focus of ERDA's LMFBR development program. The
purpose of this project is not entirely unambiguous, however.
The basic technology of the CRBR is the same as that developed
for the fast flux test facility being constructed by ERDA at the
Hanford Engineering Laboratory but the CRBR differs from the
FFTF in three basic respects:
1. Scale.-The thermal power generated by the CRBR will be 975
megawatts versus 400 megawatts for the FFTF and 3,800 megawatts
for the commercial LMFBR's projected by ERDA. [44]* The CRBR
therefore represents a stepping stone in the scale-up of the LMFBR
technology to commercial size.
2. The FFTF i8 not designed to generate electrical power.-Thle
heat generated by the FFTF will be rejected directly to atmosphere
through cooling towers whereas that produced by the CRBR will be
used to produce high-pressure steam which will in turn drive a turbo-
generator with a full power electrical output of 350 megawatts.** The
CRBR therefore requires the development of steam generators in
which the heat from molten sodium is transferred to water and
converts it into high-pressure steam.
3. The FFTF is not designed to breed.-The Clinch River reactor
core will be surrounded by rods of depleted uranium oxide taken from
the tailings of ERDA's uranium enrichment plants. It is these blanket
rods that many of the extra neutrons from the reactor core will con-
vert uranium-238 into uranium-239 which will then be transformed
by two successive radioactive decays into plutonium-239. The FFTF
will not have this blanket and will consequently, unlike the CRBRP,
not produce more plutonium than it consumes.
Thus it appears, that, although the basic nuclear technology of the
CRBR will be little different from the FFTF, the CRBR will be a
complete electrical powerplant which can in principal be scaled up by
another factor of four to commercial size.
According to ERDA's LMFBR program review group, the CRBR
1. Provide a step in the scale-up of LMIFBR technology, and
the accompanying scale-up in industrial capability. This will be
particularly so for those features outside of the reactor core.
2. Provide a demonstration of LTMFBR powerplant operation
in a utility environment, and technical information on system per-
*Thp power of electrical powernlants Is usually given in terms of electrical megawntts.
Because the heat generated by the FFTF Is dumped to the atmosphere through cooling
towers, that Is, not converted to electricity; we quote the thermal outputs here. Due to con-
version inefficiencies, the electrical output of a powerplant is usually about a factor of
three smaller than its thermal output.
**This number Is to be compared with the electrical capacities of approximately 1.000
megawatts of light water cooled nuclear powerplants coming on line In 1975 and the
electrical capacity of approximately 1,500 megawatts projected by ERDA for early
commercial LMFBR's.

formnance. safety, fuel performance, reliability, maintainability,
and the implications of utility operations.
3. Provide information and training for utilities at all levels
of their organization and provide for the infusion of the utilities'
expertise into the design, development, and operation of an
LMFBR powerpl ant.
4. Provide information on and experience with the issues as-
sociated with licensing a new type of powerplant. [45]
One thinzf tliat the CRBR will not prove is that LMFBR's will be
Pvolnomic. According to the analysis of the reactor manufacturer,
We'tinghoiise, as presented by Dr. John J. Taylor, then vice president
InMd general manager of Westin house's Advanced Nuclear Systems
Division. the cost of the CRBR plant (that is. not including thle cost of
the associated R. &I D. program) in 19)74 dollars will be $832 million,
:'.o it tvie as m(.uchl as a light-water reactor with three times the elec-
trisal generatinp- capacity of the CRBR. 'Dr. Taylor argued on the
lasis of Westinwhorse analysis, however, that tle costs of succeeding
plants per kilowatt geniratinrg capacity would fall dramatically with
increasing size and evolutionary development as has been the ease
with light-water reactors. [461t] During the transition period Federal
-,bsidies wold ptrsiinial)ly be required.
ERDA has reco nized this last fact and envisions in its LMFBR
development program one or more federanly subsi(lized "near com-
mercial breeder rea.ctors" (N(' R's) as successors to tihe CRBR. A
GAO report cites:
"ERDA officials (who) told us that in the past under the (LWR)
power demonstration plant program, AECs approach was to provide
fundms for follow-oin plants until their power costs 1bec'me competitive
with then available power so01rees." [471
Despite this exPectation, ERDA hias included only .300 million in
its projected LMFBR development program for subsidies for NCBR's.

Aq li:ic alri'adyv ben noted, the economics of the LJIFBR depend
sitiely on tlie fiitlre price of ilranil-um wh ich depends in tur iiupon
tl!' future r,,te of growth of nuclear pow.:r a;ind on T.S. llraniln r1e-
snircps--oth of wh l-h agre quite inicertain. In view of these luncer-
t:inties. it %would l)l6 d(cirnl'le to have a vood den] of flexibility in the
t 'iliir: of tihe ,LMFIBR development pro-rim. I'nfortunntely such a
fi,:ibilitv will becoiie mo re and moi' dific1ult to achieve as the pro-
griiin ptrores. s..mli f of the tl)rust of tie ALIFIR development p)ro-
'irtaiii is directed toward ,levelopin ani iTliistarial c;iq)ilaillitv in tlioqe
Sr'ai; of techlnology i riniiric to the ,LIFBR. Butl this capability will
not 1 x niii m itaine'l xwithout orders and orders. will not occuir if
LTiFBP' irp' not 1,'ilt. It will therefore hItcoe trio|'< and mlorep diffi-
1'ult as tie LMFBt,, IOR pirotrnm proceeds t i)postpone the npxt ste. to-
wn'd orniniircmi1iint ion---wiithout ilniperifln tirO t ientire LIMFBR de-
v(blopp rent. pro.'TrSriii -(eV\' if lwver <(pt ric ('nei'Lv .!rowtll ratps, larger
uri'inin resources, or liih ATMFBR capital costs appear to justify
p)oEtnnne'nPnt of eommerifili7fltion bv a decade or more.
Difficulties of this .port haive already been ellncoinltere(l as a result of
Ofriaire. of the CRBR schedule. In early 1975. tlihe two companies
which ari, fabrirntinr thw first two FFTF reactor eores were expected
to eomnpletn tli(ir work by midsummer. Fuel for the CRBR would(


not have to be ordered until late 1978. In the absence of other work for
ERDA during the interim it appeared that both companies would
shut down their facilities and they told GAO that they would prob-
ably not reenter the field later when their services were required.
ERDA was therefore planning to order two more FFTF cores from
one of the companies to tide it over. Even with this strategem ERDA
would become dependent on one supplier-a situation which the AEC
hiad assiduously attempted to avoid in the past. [49]


1. See for example: J. Murray Mitchel Jr., "A Reassessment of Atmospheric-
Pollution as a Cause of Long-Term Changes of Global Temperature," in "The
Changing Global Environment," (S. Fred Singer, ed.; D. Riedl Publishing Com-
pany, Dordrecht, Holland, 1975 p. 149; Wallace S. Broecker, "Climatic Change:
Are We on the Brink of a Pronounced Global Warming?" Science, August 8,
1975, p. 460; Reid A. Bryson, "A Perspective on Climatic Change," Science,
May 17, 1974, p. 753.
2. See for example "U.S. Energy Resources a Review as of 1972," back-
ground paper prepared for the Senate Committee on Interior and Insular Af-
fairs, 1974 Serial No. 93-40 (92-75), p. 58.
3. See e.g. the testimony of Robert D. Nininger, Assistant Director for Raw
Materials of ERDIA, "Oversight Hearings on Nuclear Energy-Part II," June 5,
1975, p. 397. Dr. Nininger estimated total U.S. uranium ore resources as 3.6
million tons of UsOs. (This chemical is 85 percent uranium by weight.) In testi-
mony during the same hearing (pp. 404 if) Milton F. Searl, Manager of the
Energy Supply Studies Program of the utilities' Electric Power Research In-
stitute critiqued the methodology used by ERDA at arriving at this estimate and
suggested that U.S. uranium resources would ultimately prove to be between
13.2 and 28.9 million tons of U30s when exploration was carried out to greater
depths and to areas of the country not currently producing uranium. Both au-
thors defined high-grade uranium ore as ore containing uranium at a concentra-
tion within a factor of three or four of the grade currently being mined. Ore-
currently being mined averages about two parts uranium per 1,000 parts ore by
4. Recycle of the plutonium would decrease the uranium requirements by about
16 percent (See e.g. "Report of the Liquid Metal Fast Breeder Reactor Program
Review Group," ERDA-1, 1975, Attachment 5, p. 17. Tails assay has been
assumed to be 0.2 percent.) Recycle of the uranium in the spent fuel would
decrease the uranium requirements by an additional 17 percent. (Calculation
based information for a pressurized water reactor given in ERDA-1, Attach-
ment 5, p. 17, the "Standard Table of Enriching Services" "AEC Gaseous Dif-
fusion Plant Operations," ORO-684), 1972, p. 37, and a fuel value penalty of
20 percent, for recycled uranium due to its contamination by reactor bred U'.
The U2 penalty was based on the calculations of H. 0. Sprague, G.E., "'Fuel
Cycle Effect of U3 in Recycled Uranium," paper presented at the 1974 Annual
ANS Meeting at Philadelphia.)
5. See for example, Marvin Resnikoff, "Is Reprocessing Cost Justified?" re-
printed in the subcommittee's "Oversight Hearings on Nuclear Energy-Part I,"
May 2, 1975, p. 857 ff. See also the report by ERDA's Fuel Cycle Task Furce,
"Nuclear Fuel Cycle," (ERDA-33, March, 1975).
6. Based on the summary descriptions of 1,000 MWe plant concepts presented
in the "Proposed Final Environmental Statement on the Liquid Metal Fast
Breeder Reactor Program" (WASH-1535, 1974) Vol. II, p. 4.2-165 ff.
7. WASH-1535, pp. 4.7-4 ff.
8. See e.g. the testimony of Theodore B. Taylor, "Oversight Hearings on Nu-
clear Energy-Pa rt I," May 2, 1975, p. 804 ff.
9. See e.g. Mason Willrich and Theodore B. Taylor, "Nuclear Theft: Risks and
Safeguards" (Cambridge, Mass., Ballinger, 1964) chapters 3 and 4.
10. ERDA Press Release, July 24, 1975.
11. Electrical World," September 15,1975.
12. Based upon: (i) an assumed average load factor of 65 percent (approxi-
mately half way between the design capacity factors of about 80 percent and( the
average capacity factors of about 55 percent currently being realized. (ii) an
assumed enrichment which leaves 0.3 percent uranium-235 in the depleted "tails."
and (iii) the replacement fuel enrichment, thermal conversion efficiency, and-
burnup assumed in ERDA-1, "Report of the Liquid Metal Fast Breeder Re-
actor Program Review Group," Attachment 5, p. 17, 1975.


13. An anticipated shortage of uranium enrichment capacity resulted for a
period in ERDA raising content of uranium-235 left in the enrichment "tails"
from 0.2 to 0.3 percent. Natural uranium contains 0.71 percent uranium-235.
14. The capacity factor averaged over 40 years assumed in ERDA-I is 56.5
percent compared to our 65 percent over 30 years. On the other hand our calcula-
tion neglects the uranium invested in the initial core-approximately 500 tons of
I'Os or the equivalent of another 5.5 percent in average load factor over 30 years.
15. Roger Legassie, "Oversight Hearings on Nuclear Energy-Part I," April 28,
1975. p. 142 ff.
16. Robert Smith, "Oversight Hearings on Nuclear Energy-Part I," April 28,
1975. p. 160 ff.
17. John Hill, "Oversight Hearings on Nuclear Energy-Part II," June 2, 1975,
). 5%3 ff.
Is. Duane Chapman and Timothy Mount, "Oversight Hearings on Nuclear
Ener-gy-Part II. June 2, 1975. p. 157 ff.
19. John C. Fisher, "Energy Crisis in Perspective" (New York, Wiley, 1974),
p. 94.
'(. U.S. Department of Commerce. "Statistical Abstract of the United States:
21. Robert I1. Williams. "Oversight Hearings on Nuclear Energy-Part II,"
June 2, 1975, p. 79 ff. See also the report by Marc H. Ross and Robert H. Wil-
liaims. Assessing the P,,teutial for Fuel Conservation," available from the Center
for Environmental Studies, Princeton University.
'22. Ford Foundation Energy Policy Project, "A Time to Choose," (Cambridge
Mla.,-.. Ballinger). Appendix F (1974), reprinted in the "Oversight Hearings on
Nuclear Energy-Part II." pp. 92-106.
23. John G. Myers. "Energy Conservation and Economic Growth-Are They
Incompatible?" "The Conference Board Record." p. 28 ff. (1975), reprinted in
the "M versigli ht Ilearing.s on NNuclear Energy-Part II," pp. 110-115.
24. Rohbert Ninilger. "Oversight HIearings on Nuclear Energy-Part II," June
5. 175. p. 383 ff.
-25.. I'SAEC. "Statistic-al D;ita of the Uranium Industry," January 1, 1974
(GJO-14)0 (74)).
2G;. information provided for the record by Robert Nininger, July 14, 1975.
27. WVASH-1537, page 6A.1-5.
2.S. Based on tigures in U.S. Department of Interior, "Energy Perspectives,"
p. 1; 6(1975).
29. Mr. Milton Searl. "Oversight Hearings on Nuclear Energy-Part II",
June 2. 1975. p. 404 ff. and a ecoml anying paper entitled "Views on Uranium
and Thorium Resources" by Milton F. Searl and Jeremy Platt, reprinted on
lpp. 521-534.
:31). For details see "'raniium Resources to Meet Long Term Uranium Require-
imenits" (EPRI SpecI.ial Report #-5. November, 1974) reprinted in "Oversight
IfiM rini- on Nucl-:ir Energy--Pirt II", pp. 4t)5-520.
:1. ibid. p. 49.
.2. U.S.G.A.O., "The Liquid Metal Fast Breeder Reactor: Promises and Uncer-
t:i tie,'" (1975), p. 9.11
:;'. Alfred M. Perry -ind Alvin M. Weinlwrg. "Thermal Breeder Reactors,"
"Aiiiiial Reviews of Nuclear Science 22", 317, (1972).
34. EIrA. "Budget Estimates, Fiscal Year 1971 and Transition Period", Book
11I. p. N FEID/F-2: .
35. J. J. Taylor, Oversight llearings on Nuclear Energy-Part II, Ju"e 0. 1975.
Ii. '7-'(t.
30. W.AX.'H 1.535.. p. 11.2-75 f.
:37. T. R. Stauffi-ir, "O oversight IHeaLrings on Nuiclear Energy-Part II", June 5,
1975. p. 5;0 fT.
3:. .T. R. Stiffer, R. S. Palinmer, H. L. Wycoff. "Breeder Reactor Eouomics,"
(;vem-ral IElectri,. lFast Breeder Remi-tor Depairtmient, Sunnyvatle. Calif., 1975.
31 ). rvin (C. Biipp and Jean-Claude Derian, "Teclumology ]Review," July/Allugst
1974. p. 27.
4(1. AEC, "The Nuclear Industry 1974" (WASH-1174-74), p. 45.
41. Robert D. Nininger "Oversight Hearings on Nuclear Energy-Part II"',
June 5, 1975, p. 397.
42. It Wa. (al('ulhtted above th;t 200,000 megawatts of LWR caplacity operated
at an av(ratge 5- percent load factor with the current "once through" fuel cycle
would consumne approxiinately 1.2 million tons of TaO, over :30 years. By returning
to prevlouiis uraniiiiiim extractiol levi at thie enrichmlent plant (0.2 percent


tails) this requirement could be reduced to approximately 1 million tons. In
1973 the total U.S. electrical capacity was 424,000 megawatts at an approxi-
mately 50 percent average load factor. (U.S. Department of Interior, "Energy
Perspectives," pp. 70, 80, 1975). In 1974 the electricity consumed stayed approxi-
mately constant (Duane Chapman, "Oversight Hearings on Nuclear Energy-
Part II," June 2, 1975, p. 158.)
43. GAO, Report to the Congress, "The Liquid Metal Fast Breeder Reactor
Program-Past, Present, and Future" (1975), p. 27.
44. Thomas A. Nemzek, "Fiscal year 1976 Authorization Hearings Before the
Joint Committee on Atomic Energy," March 11, 1975, Supplementary Informa-
tion Submitted for the Record, p. 61.
45. ERDA, "Report of the Liquid Fast Metal Breeder Reactor Program Review
Group," ERDA-1, (1975), pp. 48, 49.
46. John J. Taylor, "Oversight Hearings on Nuclear Energy-Part II," June 6,
1975, p. 615 ff.
47. GAO, Report to Congress, "The Liquid Metal Fast Breeder Reactor Pro-
gram-Past, Present, and Future," (1975), p. 24.
48. ibid., p. 11.
49. ibid., pp. 16-18.



The heavy elements uranium and thorium contain in their atomic-
nuclei enormous amounts of stored energy. One pound of any of these
elements carries approximately as much releasable energy as 2,000 tons
(4 million pounds) of coal.
This energy is releasable by any process which causes the atomic-
nuclei of these elements to divide or "fission." The process is used in
nuclear reactors and nuclear bombs is the "chain reaction," a process
in which a neutron released from the fission on one heavy nucleus
causes another heavy nucleus to fission and so on.
Only one naturally occurring isotope has been found to sustain such
a chain reaction, the rare isotope uranium-235 which makes up 0.7.
percent of naturally occurring uranium. The more abundant isotopes
uranium-238 (99.3 percent of naturally occurring uranium) and
thorium-232 (100 percent of naturally occurring thorium) can be con-
verted into chain reacting isotopes (plutonium-239 and uranium-233
respectively) under neutron bombardment in nuclear reactors, how-
ever. For this reason they are called "fertile" isotopes. Current com-
mercial nuclear power reactors are rather inefficient in this conversion
process and only convert approximately one fertile atom into a fissile
atom for every two chain reacting atoms consumed. The result, is that
current reactors can make available approximately equal amounts of
energy from the rare uranium-235 isotope and from the much more
abundant uranium-238 or thorium-232 isotopes.
In a breeder reactor the ratio of the number of fertile atoms con-
verted to chain reacting atoms per chain reacting atom consumed'
would be raised above unity, that is it would "breed" more chain re-
acting atoms than it consumed. The result would be that virtually all
of the energy stored in the fertile atoms would become available (aside
from a few tenths of percent processing losses) and a pound of ura-
nium or thorium would become in practice the energy equivalent of
1,000 tons of coal.



Plitonniun and other transuranicc elements," (most importantly
americium and curiium) are produced in nuclear reactors by a conlm-
bination of neutron capture and radioactive transformation. Many of
the is-otopes of these elements have long lives (plutonium-239, 24,000
years; plutoniuim--240, 6,600 years; americiumni-241, 460 years; plu-
tonium-3S, 90 years).
Thie characteristic radiation of the transuranics ("alpha-rays") is so
short ranged that it cannot penetrate the skin. These elements there-
fore do not represent a serious hazard to man when outside the body,
They are also not ordinarily absorbed easily through the wall of the
gastrointestinal tract when ingested in food. The primary- concern
therefore is with the consequences of the inhalation of transuranic
elements-and, in fact. plutonium has been observed to give lung can-
cer to experimental animals when inhaled in very small quantities. In
an experiment with beagle dogs, for example, virtually all of the ani-
nials were found to die from cancer after the inhalation of amounts of
plutonium-239 down to approximately 50 billionths of a kilogram
of plutoniunim per kilogram of (bloodless) dog lung.1 Exp)eriments
with lower doses are in progress. Scaling 50 billionths of a kilogram of
plutonium-239 per kilogram of lung to an average human lung mass
of O. kilogram2 vieldls approximnatelv 30 lbillionths of a kilogramn
of plutonium-239. On the basis of the( dog, other animal experiments,
and experiences with the production of lung cancer in humans with
other forms of radiation. the environmental impact statement for the
,LMFBR development program assumes that on the order of this much
plutonium-239 inhaled into and retained for a period of a year or two
the human lung will result in a cancer.1 To extend this risk esti-
m1,ates to the estimation of risks for populations, it is ordinarily as-
i,,,1c t1li;it approximately the same amount of plutonium distributed
Ietweein tle li;gs of a number of persons will result in one lung
c:ijuer-even thfogIIrh the risks to the individuals in tlhe population
would li, red v(iedl :i, the do-e which they received was reduced.
T1"1. 1l', 4'k-oiatt'I 1' K'I)A with plutoniumI i1ii;ilatioii haq been
criticized by some scientists who ar'iie thlt. it could her f:,'tors of
hundreds, to hundreds of thousands times higher.48 This is ob-
v'iowlv nn important, dispIte and it should be resolved with thel ut-
most urgency.
W.\SIT-1-'1.- p II.R 57 (1974).
S H,1lI.. i'. TT.',-34.
a Mti p I 4.7-15
4 i)1. r N. r, I fr.. VI.. -4 Vf.
J,,i t ". Gtman. 7/" l'(rri vr Ttazarrd from FInhaled Plutonium (Committee for Nuclear
Ttti,,,niilhlllty, Sntii I.'r.-ninici, (CNi. 1n7r,-IR.T>q75".)


Even if it were possible to determine unequivocally the risk asso-
ciated with the inhalation of a given amount of plutonium or other
radioactive isotopes, it would still be necessary to estimate the proba-
bility of receiving such a dose. In the environmental inipact statement
for the LMFBR development program the AEC estimated an annual
release of less than one-millionth of a kilogram of plutonium-239 from
the LMFBR fuel cycle per 1,000 megawatt reactor.6 This cor-
responds to a release of approximately 1 in a billion of the plutonium
atomns flowing through the fuel cycle. With this and correspondingly
small releases of the other long-lived transuranic isotopes, ERDA
estimated that at most a few persons would die as the result of the
inhalation of radioactivity generated from the operation for a year
of an LMFBR economy equivalent to 2,200 1,000-megawatt plants
postulated for the year 2020.7
The containment estimated in the AEC report has been regarded
with skepticism in some other quarters. For its own purposes the En-
vironmental Protection Agency has assumed release fractions for
plutonium and other transuranic elements up to one-millionth and
calculates that in this case the operation of the proposed LMFBR
economy in the year 2020 would cause approximately 1,000 extra lung
cancer deaths annually.8 Although undesirable, this would still
hardly be considered "catastrophic" in comparison to the approxi-
mately 100,000 lung cancer deaths currently occurring annually in the
United States. A large increase in this rate would only result for much
larger release rates for the transuranic elements or if their carcino-
genicity has been grossly underestimated as some scientists have sug-
gested.'4 5
SWASH-1535, pp. 11.4.7-2 ff. (1974).
7Ibid., p. 4-7-17.
8EPA, "Environmental Radiatinn Dose Commitment: An Application to the Nuclear
Power Industry" EPA-520/4-73-002 (1974), p. 24.
9 Karl Z. Morgan, Chairman of the Internal Dose Committees of both the International
Commission on Radiological Protection and the National Council on Radiation Protection
from 1940 to 1973 has recently proposed that maximum permissible body burdens for
plutonium-239 promulgated by these groups be reduced by a factor of 240 based on errors
in estimating the radiation doses to critical bone tissues. (Karl Z. Morgan, "Suggested
Reduction of Permissible Exposure to Plutonium and Other Transuranium Elements,"
-"Journal of American Industrial Hygiene," August 1975).



On May 2, 1975. Dr. Theodore Taylor, coauthor of the book,
"Nuclear Theft: Risks and Safeguards," in testimony to the sub-
committee stated that: "Present U.S. physically (sic) security applied
to special nuclear materials for civilian purposes, though strengthened
substantially during the last two years is still inadequate to prev-ent
theft by determined groups having resources and skills similar to those
that have been used for successful bank robbers or hijacking of valu-
able shipments in the past." 1 He then went on to outline some pos-
sibilities for improved safeguards which the Nuclear Regulatory Coin-
mission is considering. On the same day Dr. Victor Gilinsky, a member
of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission described the current NRC
regulations for the safeguarding of plutonium and other "weapons
grade" materials. He told the subcommittee that: "We (the NRC)
are trying to upgrade the present safeguards system in the most ef-
fective way possible.''2 He informed the subcommittee that, the NRC
is conducting a broad safeguard study 3 on the possibilities as well
as a study mandated by Congress on the need of a Security Agency
within the Commission.
As has already been noted above, the breeder reactor differs qiuali-
tatively from the water-cooled nuclear reactors currently in use in
the United States-not in the fact that it produces plutonium but
that it requires the recycle of the produced plutonium.
A. 1.000 MWe U.S. water-cooled reactor operating at 65 percent
average capacity factor produces approximately 200 kg. of plutoniirm-
each year.. A liquid metal cooled breeder reactor of the same power
and with the same average capacity factor would produce between
90 and 250 kg.5 These, figures are quite comparable. The plutonim in
water cooled reactors is not (currently at least) being extracted from
tlhe spent fuel. howex'ver, while the plutonium in the spent fuel from
an TLMFBR would have to be extracted and recycled within approxi-
mately 1 year. This would involve the recycle of approximately
700 kg. of plutonium each year into the breeder reactor.6 Thus tlhe
plutoninim prooes(.d in the fuel cycle of a single breeder reactor in
1 year would be. enough for the fabrication of approximately 100
SThf.odire B. T.iylor. Orers.ight HearingR on Nrclcar Ferrg!i-Part MNay 2, 1975,
p. s(cm.
Victor G1linskv. j, id.. Mnv 2. 1975. p. 759.
3 N ( 'S ''if l .'4.fcui t'IA ,t udii: Sc'ope's of Work ( NI 'IC Ei;-75/O'0o. 19751.
T'rkin-krif ". 'uirl ''.vii c. for Ir l'ectrih'l Power (:,* ra'tl ion" iRlciort to EPA. 197:).,
VWAS.iI -,'7. 2,"Uquld M.-t:Vl Bri'dvlr Reactor 'rir iiiirn." TV. 2. Th r:inv erorrv-
s oi,,u,%,. to a 1hrm .ling r:atlo of 1.15 f,.r an "v;ir]y nxldt," fueled I,.MF'BR to a breliniiini r ttlo
of 1 4P> for tin "' ,lv itK.-eI inrild," .iolvd TM. IlIt with "nlargeo dlitiilepr pin."
SThik ,',rr.sriinnik to a tfliprnimil efliclency of 40 percent. the fls.Ion In thp cnre of thp
equiviwd nt or f 75 ,.-rv'nt ort the iliitonlrlm natoni. Inltin lly loaded Into th p oenre nand 10*
Ii,-rci,.nt of the power coning frnm fi slons of "bred" phitonlun outside the core.

fission explosives7
sent a severe health

or, if released into the environment would repre-

In his testimony before the subcommittee (ref 2), Dr. Victor Gilinsky, a member of
the Nuclear Regulatory Commission stated that, "the minimum quantity of plutonium
needed for a comparatively simple nuclear explosive device is about 15 pounds." This
corresponds to approximately 7 kg.


Relative to water-cooled reactors the LMFBR has both safety ad-
vantages and lisadvantages.
Among tlie advantage- is the fact that the LMFBR operates well
below the boili'ngz teiiiperattire of its coolant. Thlis means that. if a
pipe were to break, the coolant would not necessarily be lost. In con-
trast. in the case of a water-cooled reactor much of the superheated
walter would turn into bubbles of steamn which would blow most of tlhe
remaining water out of the wreak.
A principle safety disadvantage of the T.[FBR relative to water-
cooled reac(.tors is the fact that the chain reaction in an LMFBR does
not a4itoimatically stop whenl the coolant starts to boil.
T''le chain reaction stops in the water-cooled reactor because the
chain reacting uiranjium-235 atoms are so diluted (to the level of 2
to 4 percent) by uranium-238 atoms in tlie fuel that a neutron must
1)e "moderated" or slowed down by collisions with the hydrogen
atoms in water between the fuel rods before it has a good probability
of being captured by a iiuranium-235 nucleus causing it, to fission.
Whlen tlie water starts to boil, some of the water is displaced by
buiibbles, its moderating effect is reduced and the chain reaction dies
In contrast, the chain reaction in an 1,IFBR is propagated by fast
"uninoderated' neutron and the fuel has a correspondingly higher
ratio (12 to 20 percent) of chain reacting atoiiis-in this case mostly
plutonium-2:9' and plutonium-241.
I'liese properties of an LAIMFBR core are intermediate between tliose
of a water-cooled reactor and tIhle core of a fission explosive. Of course,
tlie differei'ces from a fission explosive are still very great: In a fission
explosive t(he enrichment in cluiaiii reactiig nuclei is above 90 percent
and there are no dilutants corresponding to the oxygen in the fuel. tlhe
,steel triu.tural materials,. or the .odiiuii coolant which typically makes
up two-thirds of the volume of an IMIFBR core. Nevertheless. if a
s -iInt ial fractiolln of an LT.IBl' core were to melt. there is tlie
po,,ss.ilbility of a rapid( release of a limiited amount of nuclear e("(rg'y.
The first bijirst of ee rgy released wold probably be siuflicient to
(isr pl)t tlie core stu,.tniI1, bhut not (enouighi to ruptire tlie reactor pres-
se vesse,.-l. 'l'eI sul,-e ent ldev'elopmlent of the meltdown accident
i less, cl N.'ly ulde.rstood. however. In particular it is important to
, ;il .-ili- timii there will ,ott be later (bursts of nuclear energy slffi-
cienit to b1lrst tlhe reactor presure vesel and containment building,
opel,'ilg a pathl to t lie hl u ian e ivironment. for the intense radio-
acti vitv in telII. reactor core. Finally it is important to establishl that
eventually tle ,olt.n core will settle down into a form which is suffli-
citly dsp('l.rse(l ,o thlat t ie clialin reaction will stop.


It is interesting to note in this connection that a major sticking
point in the discussion between the NRC and ERDA over the licensing
of the Clinch River demonstration LMFBR stems from the desire
on the part of the NRC staff that a "core catcher" be installed below
the reactor core. The purpose of this core catcher would be to catch
the core from a meltdown accident and allow it to settle into a stable
coolable configuration. The position of the ERDA staff in this dis-
cussion is that the control system which inserts neutron absorbing
rods in the reactor and thus terminates the chain reaction can be
made so reliable that no meltdown accident could possibly occur.1
A final safety disadvantage of the LMFBR stems from the fact that
the liquid sodium coolant reacts energetically-even explosively-
upon contact with air or water. The system must therefore be designed
carefully to avoid such contact.
1 GAO, "The Liquid Metal Fast Breeder Reactor: Promises and Uncertainties" (1975),.
p. 67.


Canadian Heavy Water Reactor (CANDU).-The direction of
U.S. commercial power reactor development was substantially in-
fluenced bv the fact that the United States provided for military pur-
poses during World War II and the years immediately thereafter a
large capacity for the enrichment of uranium in uranium-235. This
made it possible to develop relatively compact nuclear reactors. Cana-
dian nuclear development was similarly influenced by the construc-
tion in that country during World War II of facilities for the pro-
duc-tion of heavy water. (Heavy water is HO20 in which the hydrogen
has been replaced by heavy hydrogen of deuterium whose abundance
in natural hydrogen is only 0.015 percent.)
The advantage of heavy hydrogen for nuclear reactors is that slow
neutrons can travel about 16 times as far in heavy water as in ordinary
water before being absorbed. This allowed for the Canadians to
develop commercial reactors in which the neutron losses to the water
were so small that it was possible to use natural unenriched uranium
in the fuel.
The Canadian heavy water reactor (CANDU), as currently oper-
ated with unenriched uranium fuel, requires the mining of about
20 percent less uranium ore per kilowatt-hour generated than a light
water cooled reactor (assuming no recycle of plutonium in either
C'se.1 By slightly enriching the uranium in the CANDU the savings
could 1v increased to about 40 percent. The relative advantage of the
CANDU with unenriched uranium fuel would be increased still
further with plutonium and uranium recycle in both reactor types-
to p1),l t a factor of two.
Tlorrlm Fiel CyrTe.-By introducing a new element, thorium, into
lthe fuel of iiany types of reactors, even greater conservation of
Ih;liium resources can be achieved. The slowed down neutrons which
nre used in U.S. light water, Canadian heavy water, and U.S. high-
temnperatuire. gas-cooled reactors are more effective in converting fer-
tile thorii]m-232 into chain reacting uranium-223 than they are in con-
verting uraniiin-238 into chain reacting plutonium-239. The. high-
temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTTTGR) developed bv General
Atomic. Co. in the United States is in fact fueled with almost pure
urnmiinin-235 and thorium. With recycle of the bred uranium-233 it
would consume approximately 30 percent less uranium than the light-
waiter reactor. With fuel changes approximately twice as frequent as
1 Tho rnfrfnvrp fnr tho nirnnim t0111infInn fl-nrp nQI nf In +oth #1jq' nnin nr nf fnolnwv
lleht wnfpr rnctor- nnvl TT'P'*;R--FRDA-I. Attnelirm nt 5. pnT o 17; : ANPTT--.J. S lPotpr
rind '.. Crltfrm,h. "Thio Stnfiiq nf thlip rnnnidnn Ni-.lonr Power Prnrrnm inyd P ,r.slh1A
Fimiirr, trntPclPR." fIlR.iim onl Tnnor nrp.nt,'l1 fnr thip Winpsprend Conference on Ad-
vuineol Nijirvnr Convrrltrs ndl Nenr Itreeo,1lr,. Mny 14-16. 1975.


currently considered economically optimal, the saving with the
HTGR could be increased to over 60 percent. The advantages of
using the CANDU on the uranium-thorium fuel cycle with uranium-
233 recycle are similar: approximately 70 percent savings relative to
the light-water reactors operating with uranium and plutonium


Many of the factors which bear on the relative capital costs of the
LM.IFBR and of current U.S. reactors stem from the fact that the
LMFBR uses a liquid metal as a coolant while most current U.S.
reactors use ordinary light water.
The use of a liquid metal as a breeder reactor coolant stems from the
stringent demands which breeding puts on the neutron economy of the
reactor. Upon fissioning a chain reacting nucleus releases on the aver-
age between two and three neutrons. One of these neutrons on thie aver-
age must cause the fi sion of another nucleus so as to continue tlhe chain
reaction. In order for breeding to occur, that is in order to get a net
increase in the amount of chain reacting material in the reactor, it is
necessary for at least one of the remaining neutrons to convert a fertile
nucleus into a new chain reacting nucleus. Thus, on the average, at
least two of the neTiut rons released in a fission process have to be utilized
profitably in a breeder reactor and, since less than three are released in
the first place very little wastage of neutrons can be allowed.
One of the ways in which the neutron economy of a breeder reactor
is optimized is by adjiisting the speed of the neutrons causing the fis-
sions so that the ma ximinum number of neutrons are released per neutron
captured in the chain reacting fuel. For a breeder based on the fission
of plutonium, as is the IIFBR, this ratio is maximized when the
neutrons lose as little energy as possible between their emission and
absorption. The reactor must be designed, therefore, so that: (1) a neu-
tron in the cliain reaction should bounce off as few atoms as possible
between thle fission event which produces it and that which it causes
in turn, and (2) the neutron loses as little energy as possible in each
colli-ion that it does undergo.
Both of these conditions are mnet using a liquid metal coolant: (1)
SMi a coolant is mulch more effective than water in removing heat from
the surfaces of the fuel-consequently the fuel rods can be packed
closer together in the coolant and a neutron going from one fuel rod
to another has to penet rate fewer cool.nt atoms. (2) The light neutron
will lose much less energy in a collision with a heavy metal atom be-
c,1'.-e that atiii-m-like( the lihlit hydrogen atom in water-will
hardly recoil at all. Molten sodium has been selected as the coolant for
tlo LMFBR.
Sodliuim has )both (-o'(,oimic advantagres and disadvantages relative
to water ;s a coolant. Its adv'antages steinm primarily from its high boil-
ing point, 1,(6"20F. One consequence is that it is possible to operate
the reactor at low pressure-unlike water-cooled reactors where the
water is kept at very high pressures (up to 2,500 pounds per square
iiielh) so that, itn may )be superlheated to temperatures wNhere conversion
of heat into elect rical ,ene'giy is relatively efficient. With a low-pressure


.system the tanks and pipes which constitute the reactor plumbing can
be designed with thinner walls and quality standards are less critical
to public safety.
Another advantage of the high boiling point of sodium is that it
becomes possible to operate the reactor at higher temperatures than
water-cooled reactors which operate at between 500 and 600F.
LMFBR's would probably heat their sodium coolant to temperatures
-of the order of 1,000F which would give them a thermal conversion
efficiency of about 40 percent-conisiderably higher than the 33 percent
being achieved by water-cooled reactors. The higher thermal efficiency
of the LMFBR would result in cost savings because a smaller turbine,
less cooling water, smaller cooling towers et cetera are required per
'unit power output as the thermal efficiency increases.
The economic disadvantages of sodium as a coolant stem primarily
from it having the unfortunate property of burning vigorously-even
*explosively-if it comes into contact with air or water. As a result,
,elaborate arrangements are required when loading or unloading the
fuel in the reactor or performing other required maintenance opera-
tions to insure that air does not obtain access to the sodium. Since the
TLMFBR is designed to have a steam driven turbine-generator system
for converting the heat in the sodium to electrical energy, great care
is also required to prevent leakage between the sodium and water sides
of the steam generators. In the current designs the heat is transferred
first from the radioactive sodium which cools the reactor to nonradio-
active sodium and then to the water. In this way, if a sodium-water
fire should occur, at least it won't involve the highly radioactive pri-
mary coolant.
There is some question as to whether the economic advantages would
outweigh the disadvantages of sodium as a coolant over the long term.
The balance will be determined in part by whether it is decided in the
future that current designs are overly conservative in, for example, the
degree of separation between the steam generator and the primary
sodium. In the short term, however, it appears clear that the capital
costs for the LMFBR would be higher than those for water-cooled



Fast flux test faci/ity.-The FFTF is a nuclear reactor being built
at ERDA's Hanford Engineering Development Laboratory in WVash-
ington State. In many ways it is the precursor of the demonstration
breeder reactor which ERDA plans to build on the Clinch River in
Tennessee-whose design is in fact in good part based on that of the
FFTF. The FFTF will be a reactor with about 40 percent of the tlier-
mal power of the Clinchl River reactor designed to test the properties
of breeder fuel and materials under LMIFBR operating conditions.1
According to a 1975 GAO review of the FFTF program:
AEC's initial cost estimate ($87.5 million) at project authorization wasn 1-aed
upon several contractor-prepared c(inceptual d(lesign cost stud(Iies. In December
19.S, AEC approved a ch;ange:l core concept . The initial estimate wa s de-
pendent upon the use of several components already proven in a sodium rea,-tor
environment. Because off-the-shelf items were not available, however, AEC s)ub-
sequently was required to establish or reestablish an industrial capacity for
manufacture of components of (sic) high temperature sodium service and to
develop new nuclear industry standards for these new higher temperatures.
Several major components and facilities included in the concepItual designn
studies were deferred or deleted from the project and numerous consolidations
and simplifications were made . .
In July 1970 AEC presented to the Joint Committee a start of construction
capital cost estimate of $102.8 million . .
On January 21. 1973, AEC advised the Joint Committee it was increasing the
construction cost estimate from $102., to $187.8 million . .
In a letter of April 4, 1973 to AEC's general manager, the Joint Committee's
Executive Director stated that the total costs associated with construction of the
FFTF appear significantly greater than those which were included in the budget
daita (in the construction project. He was also of the opinion that the Commission
had not fully and promlpily advised the committee of the changing cost estimates,
scheduled delays and other factors.
AEC wa.s then requested by tlhe Joint Committee to provide a current estimate
of all iosts associated with tlie FTF', including those in the operating budget,
as we-ll as any lant and equipmeinnt obligations . .
On May 17, 1973, for thle first time AEC provided the Joint Committee with a
cost estimate in one place for the entire FFTFI" program-$509 million . .*
On March 11, 1975, Thomas A. Nemnzek. ERDA's Director, Divis-ion
of Reactor Research and Development, told tlhe Joint Committee:
A clinrge Is noit being proposd in tlio official ERDA estimate of FFTF project
(ost-$53.t( millimi . at this timnie. lHowev'er the project is experiencing sub-
stantial inflationuiary grow th . On the basis of these current trends, the project
is forecasting a project cost of $622 million .. .*
Theim GAO review 'oiimiter d onm tlie lateness of previous cost esti.
mate increases as follows:

'rlimywi A. N.imzek, Direr-tor. Division of Reartor Repearch and Development, ERDA.
Inrfrriintlim n , to testlinony before th, Joint Committee on Atomic Energy,
Maroh i11. 1975. p Ip. 4' ;1.
(;AO fYff S.tudy, "Fast Flux Facility Program," 1975, pp. 11-14.
SRef. 1, p. 57.


From June 1970 until January 1973, AEC's plant and capital equipment esti-
mate held at $102.8 million. On January 29, 1973, at which time costs totaling
about 83 percent of the $102.8 million estimate were incurred or committed, AEC
told the Joint Committee that it was increasing the FFTF estimate to $187.9
million . .
In November 1973, at the request of the AEC Chairman, AEC and FFTF con-
tractor officials developed a revised plant and capital equipment cost estimate
for the project which amounted to $420 million . As in the case of the previous
increase, funds equivalent to a major portion of the existing estimate (76 percent)
had been incurred or committed.'
The GAO review also noted that:
The FFTF has experienced a substantial schedule slippage. In March 1967,
shortly before authorization of the FFTF projects, AEC informed the Joint Com-
mittee that FFTF construction was expected to start by June 1968, and that full
power operation would begin early in 1974. Because of considerable delays in the
conceptual and preliminary design effort, however, FFTF construction did not
actually start until July 1970-a slippage of about 2 years, AEC headquarters
officials informed us that achievement of the full power operation milestone is
not now expected until May 1979.
At start of FFTF construction, only limited detailed design effort had been
accomplished and, since that time, design and construction have been accom-
plished concurrently.6
Despite the increase in estimated costs by a factor of 7 and slippage
of the full power operation date by 5 years, the current design is less
flexible than that originally conceived and the GAO has expressed
concern that "these changes may limit the number and type of experi-
ments that can be performed" at the FFTF.6
Sodium pump test facility.-A precedent exists in another LMFBR
development program project for GAO's concerns about the ability of
the redesigned FFTF to accomplish its mission. According to another
GAO report:
The construction of the sodium pump test facility was authorized in the fiscal
year 1966 budget. The estimate. presented to Congress for approval at that time
was $6.8 million. In 1969, a review of the project by a private architect-engineer-
ing firm revealed that the project, with its then current scope, would cost $25.2
To reduce estimated costs, the project scope was then revised to test sodium
)pumps ha ving a capacity of about one-third the size of those initially anticipated
to be tested. The reduced project scope resulted in a cost estimate of $12.5 mil-
lion for the facility. This estimate was presented to and approved by the Con-
gress as part of AEC's fiscal year 1972 budget request. In fiscal year 1974, this
S12.5 million estimate was agiin revised up to $17.5 million. At that time, AEC
stated that the reduced capability of the facility would not adversely affect the
capability to test pumps up to the sizes needed for use in the foreseeable future
of the LMFBR program.
ERDA is presently planning modifications to this facility s.o it can test CRBR
(Clinch River breeder reactor)-size pumps, which are larger than the pumps
for which the facility is presently designed. These modifications are presently
estimated to cost $40 million, increasing the project's total cost to $57.5 million.7
To test full size plant components with sodium, ERDA has recently
added to the LMFBR program a plant component test facility which
is currently estimated to cost about $200 million and is planned for
operation in the early 1980's.8

4 Ref. 2, pp. 17, 18.
5 Ref. 2, p. 19.
8Ref. 2, p. 22.
7 AO Report to the Congress, "The Liquid Metal Fast Breeder Program-Past, Present,
and Future," .25-26.
SRef. 7, p. I


'lhnrh R;' er breeder reactor.-The CRBR is supposed to be a dem-
onstration commerical breeder reactor generating about one-quarter-
to one-third the power of the full sized LMIFBR's 9 the first of which
ERDA expects to have operating in 1987.10
The CRBR is a joint government-industry effort In August 1972:
AEC estimated that tI9 million' would Ibe required to design. construct. and
lateae the prijecet, of which private project participants, primarily utilities
were expected to provide from $274 to $294 million including $20 to $40 million
from reactor manufacturers. AEC was authorized to contribute a total of about
$422 million, $92 million of which was to be in direct financial assistance, $10,
million in special nuclear mnjateri:iLs. and $:-'2. million in development work
frima AEC's ougoinig LIMFBR base program. Base program funds were limited
to .5(1 percent of the then estimated capital cost of the plant. The direct a.istan.ce
and lase program funds were restricted as to what they could be used for. In
general, they could not be used for end capital items for the plant.
ERDA's cost estimate for comnpletiiing the CRBR project is now $1.736 billion-
an increase of more tlian -l billion. Because utility contributions were fixed.
ERDA, by contract, acr-epted the (.pen-end financial risks connected with the
project and agreed to seek funds for any cost increase...
The date for conmmerciatl operation of the CRBR has slipped by 3
years in 3 years-to eirly 1983. Accordingto a GAO report, additional
delays may be expected:
Two important prnjef-t milestones are (1) nbtainin. a limited work anithorizn-
tion by September 1, 1975. and (2) obtaining a construction permit by August 1,
Delays have already occurred in the licensing process. According to ERDA,
neither the limited wcrk authorization milestone nor the construction permit
milest4onne will be met. A delay of 4 months could be expected in each category...
The application for a limited work authorization was submitted to NRC
(Nelear Rezilatory Comflmis.sion) in October 1974. NRC, however, has not
ffi,, accepted the apl ication foIr '1wketing l.tt1ii:tse it feels additional inflr-
Iiation i- ntc.(.ary lfi .re a complete review of the application is
poIrsible.. U
The GAO report goes on to describe other potential future causes
of delay in the CRBR project: lack of timely and adequate funding,
public hen ringrs and outside legal interventions during the licensing
process. delaNys in the delivery of long leadtimne material and coni-
po)n.,ts. unavailal ity of craftsmen-particularly welders, and poten-
tial design celanges-in particular those relating to a "core catcher"
whclh' is favored by tlhe NRC but not by ERDA.13
)Due to the joint indu-try-ERDA ffundin" of the CRBR project, a
Proje,'t. [ana''n Corporation was (-tabl ih'(l directCed by a three-
111:11 ste''riiiLr comimitte 'representingz ER)A. tlhe Tennessee Valley
Authority, and CoImonwealtli Edison. (The Tennessee Valley Au-
tloritv is 1)rovidlinl tle site. will operate. thie )lafnt, will purchase the
power it r oduts. and will have the option to buy it after the project
is ov(,r. Conrioiciwealth Edison is provi(ling; enineering management
, plr,'(1asing srvic'(.s for the project.) The GAO has described the
ori,*i'a izitionil a,'rrn 7irment for the project. as "complex and poten-
tii lly. ciuibersoine." 14
**I.' f. 1. p. c;.i
'" G AO( I ,, 1 ';,rpr to L',,r. : "The IlAiilil Metal .'at Bre hrler Reactor: I rumiset and
I'nrrtiiliill.-" (1'7 .'> p. t 11 1.
(A ki, i',,,nort to iti, Joint ('mnniltt,. onn Atinilce Enermy, "'ornnim nt. on 'Enprgy Re-
mnrcth and Ih- Ili,,i .iiit A.iliiiliiltrtfi"ttii' I'rnposed Arraingeminent for the Clinch River
I'r. '.,r It.:,I.i r ,1 .iiiiim,ii rinflInn l'roij rt" (1975).
G \ I,'plmrt to ti (',,,n '-. "I',,.t anil S.Fhcltlnl I.tmnta for tho Nation's First
l..*',iM i \ .0il l'.i", I'.ri f 'r T nraltor D mrniinstratin I'ow rr 1'lnnt" 1975, p. 27.
," It Ref. 7. p. 31.

60C9 L999:co 0 9L.

VaiO-li :O AlISUAINn
With the increase in ERDA's participation from approximately 60
percent, when the management arrangement was established, to 85.
percent with the new cost estimates. ERDA on March 10, 1975, pro-
posed to the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy new management
arrangements which "are necessary to clearly delineate the manner in.
which the project will be managed in the future, in recognition of the
major increase in governmental financial involvement and the need to
establish a single-line integrated project management organization." 15
The GAO has reviewed the proposed changes, however, and concluded
In our opinion, the various documents submitted to the Joint Committee do
not clearly delineate the manner in which the project will be managed, but rather
contain ambiguous and seemingly inconsistent language regarding responsibili-
ties and authorization and management.'6
In particular the proposed new arrangements would leave the Proj-
ect Management Corporation (PMC) to manage the project subject to
being overridden by ERDA. PMC in its role as representative of the
utilities, however, would have the right to disapprove "any proposed
major changes in Project Scope or deviation from the approved ref-
erence design or specifications." If PMC were to disagree with such
changes, the utilities could terminate their involvement with the proj-
ect. The GAO comments that:
Such inconsistencies suggest to us that ERDA will not be able to exercise the
usual management prerogatives in the areas of design and other changes and
that it may be subject to restraints in other management areas.7
The GAO report continues:
We discussed these inconsistencies with ERDA officials and they told us that,
although they believe the documents are clear, ERDA will revise the documents
to state that ERDA will manage the project. ERDA officials stated also that the
revised four-party contract would clearly state that ERDA would manage the.
1 Letter from ERDA to the Joint Committee quoted in ref. 11, p. 4.
i Ibid., p. 4.
1 Ibid., p. 6.