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assurance is yet available pertaining to the effectiveness of this vital reactor safety system.
We suggest that the ultimate judgment that the committee make on offshore nuclear power plants be its response to that internal
Speaking to the bill itself, we note that the hearings that would be conducted by NOAA in order to create a record upon which it would base certification or noncertification, or qualified certification of the facility, may be combined with other agency hearings. It is altogether likely that if the bill were passed in this form, that the other agency hearings with which the NOAA record would be combined would be hearings of the AEC.
We believe, based on our familiarity and experience with the AEC proceedings during the last few years, that the AEC is not affording the public due process hearings that make available a full disclosure of what the risks are associated with nuclear powerplant construction.
To give an illustration of this, I would refer to the yearlong hearing on emergency core cooling systems, that was conducted by the AEC starting in January of 1972. In the course of that hearing, the AEC initially made available its experts on reactor safety from its safety research center to be cross-examined by the public interveners in the proceeding, of whom the Union of Concerned Scientists is one.
The testimony from those AEC experts totally discredited the convenient and stll-current AEC Safety Criteria. In the latter phases of the hearing when the AEC submitted its supplemental testimony the public interveners in that proceeding asked for the opportunity to question the AEC's experts from its Safety and Research Centers and to have them answer the fundamental question, does this new position by the AEC satisfy the concerns that you expressed in great detail on this record, several months before?
You, gentlemen, you witnesses from the AEC's Research Centers, you created the emergency core cooling system controversy, you came forward and gave your candid assessment of the situation.
The AEC refused to let those witnesses come into the hearing under the ground rules that will allow them to be asked those questions. The agency set up contorted ground rules to the effect that we could question any AEC expert who made a comment on the regulatory staff, draft rebuttal testimony, provided that the regulatory staff commented on that comment.
Since a large number of the critical AEC experts had not made writen comments on the draft or regulatory staff's supplemental testimony we were not allowed to ask those preeminent safety personnel in the AEC what their feelings were.
Another example that relates specifically to the local licensing connected with nuclear powerplants is the AEC subpena rule.
Under the AEC subpena rule, the interveners in the proceeding are not allowed to subpena employees of the AEC. The Atomic Safety and Licensing Appeal Board of the AEC ruled in 1972 that the members in the AEC contract research laboratories, such as Oak Ridge, who are employed by Union Carbide, which has a contract with the AEC; that these people were not AEC employees, and that therefore, these people could be subpenaed to testify in local licensing hearing's.
These account for most of the experts on reactor safety. The AEC swiftly nullified the effect of its Appeal Board ruling my declaring that employees of AEC Safety Research contractors trere AEC emplovees and therefore, they were not subject to call by public interveners in public nuclear powerplant licensing proceedings.
We believe that this information raises a serious question which we cannot resolve at the moment, but thich we commend to you, regarding the provision of the bill under consideration; regarding the combination of NOAA proceedings on its certification of offshore nuclear powerplants with the AEC's licensing hearings.
The last area that I would like to comment on concerns the discussions that took place earlier this morning concerning the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, and the responsibilities of this bill with respect to that act.
Senator Baker referred to the provision of S. 80. that states in relation to other laws, that NEPA is still applicable. I note this because in Mr. Ramer's prepared statement. he implies, and I quote him: "Because S. 80 emphasizes marine environment protection as potentially the single criterion sufficient for project disapproval, it does not insure an appropriate balanced consideration."
The question raised by Mr. Ramer is something we will ask our lawvers to address themselves to, and would like to submit that as a supplemental piece of testimony.
Senator HOLLINGs. Fine.
Jr. Fon). But, as a significant Federal action, the action of NOAA in certifying or noncertifying an offshore nuclear powerplant, must be accompanied by an environmental impact statement, and it must be an environmental impact statement that gives balanced consideration to the economic, technical, and environmental issues involved.
On the basis of that preliminary estimation of the situation, I would determine that Mr. Ramer's remark that I quoted, raises a complete nonissue. The other remarks that I would like to make regarding the National Environmental Poliey Act relate to the extest to which the AEC has fulfilled the mandate of that act. As the chairman noted before, the Calrert Cliffs decision handed down a strong condemnation of the AEC'S NEPA implementation. The history of subsequent AEC dealings with NEPA should be reviewed briefly. First of all, the AEC indicated its devoion to the National Environmental Act, in its legislative effort of last spring in order to get 17 nuclear plants licensed.
The AEC asked the Congress to remove the licensing procedures for those 17 plants from NEPA. Furthermore, the AEC filed an environmental impact statement in connection with the emergency core cooling system controversy, that is, an environmental impact statement in connection with the ECCS rulemaking hearng and its
The comments from the EPA were submitted to the AEC on February 16, 1973. We will make a copy of this document available
to the con
The document declared the AEC's environmental statement pertaining to the most significant reactor safety regulations that it is empowered to promulgate, that that review is inadequate, that it is based on emergency core cooling system performance criteria that the Commission, itself, admits are not sufficient to protect the public health and safety; and in addition, it presents an unsupported statement concerning the risks of catastrophic accident.
I think that the need for a Federal review of the environmental impact of offshore nuclear powerplants is quite clear in the face of the AEC's utter failure to live up to the strong mandate of NEPA. Senator HOLLINGS. Thank you, and Dr. Kendall.
If you would please furnish those documents, we would appreciate them. We appreciate the balanced information you have given to these hearings.
Is there anything you wish to add?
Mr. Ford. We have the prepared document which we will give to the reporter. There is one typographic correction I should note, in the record; namely, page 16, the second to the last line, the word "now," should be "not." Senator HOLLINGS. Thank you both, very much. [The statement follows:]
STATEMENT OF HENRY W. KENDALL AND DANIEL F. FORD UNION OF
CONCERNED SCIENTISTS CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS
My name is Henry W. Kendall. I am a nuclear and high-energy experimental physicist and a Professor of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Over a period now approaching two years, I and associates in the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) have been studying various aspects of nuclear reactor safety. Daniel F. Ford, who is an economist working full time for UCS on reactor safety, is appearing with me today.
UCS has performed numerous studies pertaining to reactor safety system effectiveness and was the prime mover in bringing about long overdue Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) hearings concerning the emergency core cooling system (ECCS). These hearings, which began 15 months ago, are drawing to completion. The hearings provide a vast amount of information that facilitates an assessment both of the present state of reactor safety and of the manner in which the AEC has exercised its responsibilities for protecting the public interest in the important area. Mr. Ford participated in the hearing, cross-examining experts from the AEC and the reactor industry, and we are both appearing before you today to present what we think are the clear implications from our work on reactor safety regarding the proposal to site large floating nuclear power plants in coastal waters.
I have devoted my professional career to the performance and analysis of experiments in which one seeks to understand important physical phenomena. I have detailed familiarity with experimental methods used in the physical and engineering sciences. The experiments that I have engaged in, at facilities such as the Two Mile Stanford Linear Accelerator, employ some of the most sophisticated equipment that man has devised to investigate physical phenomena. I have, in addition, been a consultant to the Department of Defense on a number of major programs and have been associated with some important innovations of a classified nature. At M.I.T., I teach basic courses on experimental techniques.
I describe my involvement as a scientist with experimental work because the most fundamental questions related to reactor safety concern the extent to which adequate experimentation has been performed to verify the claims of safety system effectiveness put forward by the AEC and the reactor industry. I have studied in great detail the important experimental programs on which
reactor safety assurances are based. It is not appropriate for scientists, even with substantial backgrounds in experimental work, to make casual judgments concerning the conclusiveness of reactor safety research completed to date. One must roll up his sleeves, so to speak, and engage in in-depth analysis of reactor safety research programs. Accordingly, for the past two years, I and my colleagues have been performing such analysis and have reached what I feel as a scientist are totally defensible conclusions regarding reactor safety problems that result from inadequate testing of reactor safety assumptions. We believe that the information available clearly demonstrates that it is unwise to plan for the construction of offshore nuclear power plants prior to the resolution of the outstanding, and very grave, reactor safety problems.
II. THE RISKS AND CONSEQUENCES OF MAJOR ACCIDENT
In order to assess the risk and the potential environmental impact of major nuclear reactor accidents, one has to do a number of things. One has, first, to assess the size and scale of the kind of accident that is considered credible. One has, second, to establish the probability for the initiating events of such an accident to occur. And one has, third, to estimate the probability that the system that are designed to contain or mitigate such an accident will or will not work.
The size and scale of an accident of major proportions associated with a nuclear reactor are related to the prodigious quantities of radioactivity that accumulate from the fragments that are, in turn, a consequence of the fission of the original Uranium 235 nuclei. The quantities in a reactor are numbered in the many tens of billions of curies. Indeed, in numerical notation, upwards of 10 to the tenth curies or more. This includes materials with short half-lives, intermediate half-lives, and some alpha-active elements referred to as the transuranics (which are not fission products incidentally) which have half-lives on the order, for some of them, of tens of thousands of years. This radioactive accumulation is equivalent to the fallout of thousands of Hiroshima-size nuclear weapons and substantial attention has been paid to preventing inadvertent release. What we are discussing is whether this substantial program is in fact adequate. Twenty percent of this material is gaseous in normal circumstances and if the material is released to the environment in one or another way, at least the gaseous material will be swept along by the winds and expose people outside the site boundaries to what can be lethal amounts of radioactivity. If a proportion of the fission product contents of the reactor are released, which are on the order of ten or twenty percent, the passage of the radioactive cloud would prove lethal at many dozens of miles from the reactor site under particularly unfortunate but not uncommon meteorological circumstances. The distances may approach 100 miles and human health and injury, genetic damage, and increased susceptibility to a variety of diseases can occur at hundreds of miles.
The AEC, in 1957, prepared an analysis of the kind of accident that might occur from such a release for a reactor that is small in size compared to reactors now coming on line. It is referred to as WASH-740 and is well known to some of you. In 1967 there was a request to Brookhaven that this be updated for the large reactors then being designed. This full update was not carried out on the basis, according to my understanding, that there were no substantive changes expected in the predicted radiological consequences for the assumed range of meteorological conditions that they considered.1 There was only the update that was related to the increased size of the inventory. Our group has made its own update on the WASH-740 with the results that I have just briefly summarized.
The uranium in a reactor core is placed inside zirconium alloy tubes forming the fuel rods. The tens of thousands of rods are mounted inside the reactor pressure vessel, itself installed within another protective shield, the containment building. Is it still possible for radioactivity to escape? The answer is yes. The radioactive materials generate a great deal of heat. They cannot be turned off. In the event of a pipe rupture or other kind of incident, the cooling water would be lost. If this cooling water is lost and there is no emergency
1 One of the scientists associated with preparation of WASH-740 told us that a revised version was not issued because the results of a modified analysis "would still be too bad to talk about.'
coolant restored to the reactor core, then a very rapid heatup starts, which after a period of a few minutes can no longer be cooled by emergency water. The reactor core will in these unfortunate circumstances melt down and broach all man-made structures in the process, with what appears to be the inevitable release of at least the gaseous components of the fission products. The nature of this accident is not known in complete detail, but there is little controversy that an uncontrolled meltdown would result in very serious circumstances and would present an unparalleled hazard to people at some distance from the plant. The consequences of a land-based accident, we believe, are very much overshadowed by the consequences of a reactor accident involving an ocean-based reactor. In the first place, since the proposed ocean-based reactors would only be a few miles from shore, there would not be major differences in the consequences of gaseous waste-product releases on the population than in a major release from a land-based reactor other than the somewhat higher probability of their being blown innocuously to sea. The fact, however, that assures a vastly greater severity of an accident involving a floating nuclear power station is that when the remains of the reactor core and waste products melt their way through the reactor containment structures (something that will surely occur if the safety systems fail), contact between this material and the ocean water will cause the certain release of a very large quantity of solid radioactive wastes into the world's oceans. Such an event is a catastrophe of a kind the country has never experienced. There is in a large nuclear power plant, for example, enough strontium-90 to contaminate thousands of cubic miles of water above permitted AEC tolerance levels. It is unhappily one of the longer-lived of the fission products, with a 28 year half-life. Traces of the material would still be identifiable many hundreds of years after an accident. Strontium-90 is an especially damaging radioactive contaminant. It moves through the food chains and accumulates in the bones of human beings because of its chemical similarity to calcium. Because it lodges in the bones and undergoes radioactive decay there, it is linked very closely to leukemia. Strontium-90 was the principal long-lived contaminant in the atmosphere following atmospheric weapons tests. It found its way from arable land through milk into humans.
Now the AEC has selected the kind of accident they will consider as the maximum credible accident. It is a pipe rupture of one of the recirculating lines in the reactor. It is referred to as the Design Basis Accident. The probability of such a rupture forms one of the links in safety assurance. The probability of such a rupture is referred to as “highly unlikely" or "extremely remote.” Nevertheless, it is considered likely enough that emergency systems are required by AEC regulations to mitigate the consequences of such vents.
Now we have to ask in viewing the chain of items that go to develop the assurance of reactor safety : (1) what is the probability of having the kind of rupture which could give rise to meltdown, and (2) what is the possibility that the emergency systems will in fact fail to perform their function when they are called on? There have been a variety of estimates and variety of comments on the difficulty of estimating the occurrence of these pipe ruptures. Recently the AEC, in a document entitled WASH-1250, has indicated that a major pipe rupture might occur as frequently as one in a thousand reactorFears of operation. This is not greatly dissimilar from a General Electric estimate applicable to its reactors. In the published estimations of probability in WASH-1250, the AEC further states that there is only roughly one chance in a thousand that elements of the emergency core cooling system will in fact fail to function.
The first important consequence from investigating this probability of pipe rupture is that, in our opinion, it is not highly unlikely. In fact, it is unacceptably large. It is enormous. This country has 150 reactors operating, under construction, or ordered. When these are all operating, we can expect, on the basis of the AEC's stated probabilities, to have one major pipe rupture approximately every seven years and, at the end of the century when we have a thousand reactors, to have one major pipe rupture every year. This cannot, by any measure, be regarded as "highly unlikely” when looked at in terms of the entire inventory of reactors that is coming to be in this country.
The AEC, in considering that there is only one chance in a thousand that, given this accident, the emergency core cooling system will fail to w.