483rd Meeting - June 8, 2001

                Official Transcript of Proceedings


Title:                    Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards
                                   [483RD ACRS Meeting]     

Docket Number:  (not applicable)

Location:                 Rockville, Maryland

Date:                     Friday, June 8, 2001

Work Order No.: NRC-251                             Pages 260-310

                   NEAL R. GROSS AND CO., INC.
                 Court Reporters and Transcribers
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                                 + + + + +
                               483RD MEETING
                                 + + + + +
                               JUNE 8, 2001
                                 + + + + +
                            ROCKVILLE, MARYLAND
                                 + + + + +
                       The Committee met at the Nuclear
           Regulatory Commission, Two White Flint North, Room
           T2B3, 11545 Rockville Pike, at 9:00 a.m., Mario V.
           Bonaca, Vice Chairman, presiding.
           MARIO V. BONACA       
                 Vice Chairman
           F. PETER FORD         
           THOMAS S. KRESS       
           GRAHAM M. LEITCH      
           DANA A. POWERS        
           WILLIAM J. SHACK      
           JOHN D. SIEBER        
           ROBERT. E. UHRIG      
           GRAHAM B. WALLIS      
                 GRETA J. DICUS
                 SAM DURAISWAMY
                 ROBERT ELLIOT
                 CAROL A. HARRIS
                 JOHN T. LARKINS
                 HOWARD J. LARSON
                 JAMES E. LYONS
                                 I N D E X
                        Agenda Item                        Page
           Opening Remarks, Vice Chairman Bonaca. . . . . . 263
           Opening Statement, Commissioner Dicus. . . . . . 263
           Discussion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 264
           Adjournment. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 309
                                                    (8:55 a.m.)
                       VICE CHAIRMAN BONACA:  It is a great
           pleasure to welcome Commissioner Dicus who is here
           today to discuss some items of mutual interest.  We
           understand that first you have some remarks to make
           and then after that we will open the floor for
           discussion.  So without much ado, I will turn the
           meeting to you.
                       MEMBER KRESS:  George wanted me to remind
           you that he's really sorry he couldn't be here.
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  I spoke to him
           yesterday.  His daughter is graduating today.
                       MEMBER KRESS:  That takes priority over
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  That absolutely takes
           priority over everything.
                       I really don't have any prepared opening
           comments other than I do very much appreciate the
           opportunity to come down and discuss whatever items
           that you have on your mind that you first -- well,
                       MEMBER POWERS:  Hi. 
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  I didn't think you
           would make it.
                       MEMBER POWERS:  We were in discussing
           plans to handle the steam generator tube probe problem
           in the future and we snuck in a quick briefing here.
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  Very good.  You had
           prepared and I had met with Dr. Apostalakis earlier
           and did you have something in particular in mind you
           wanted to talk about, what was the particular interest
           that the Advisory Committee had and he brought in an
           outline of some topics to go over, so those are the
           topics that I think we might be interested in
                       If you had a particular priority on those,
           I sort of have my own priority, but obviously it would
           start out with the health physics issues that you
           identified particularly, any needs in research with
           regard to actinides, toxicity, metabolism in the body
           and then what are we ever going to do with the LNT. 
           I can start with those items and then we can go on to
           some of the technical issues.
                       MEMBER POWERS:  Yes, I think we've got
           some specific -- we need some specific guidance in
           connection with the actinides and the toxicity issue
           because we have this MOX facilities staring us in the
           face here and some of that stuff takes some lead time
           to do.
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  Right.  Let me start
           with that.  With regard to plutonium oxide and uranium
           oxide issues, there currently is no research that I'm
           aware of at least being done.  Quite a bit of research
           has been done in the past.  The only thing that is 
           on-going is some epidemiological work with the Joint
           Coordinating Committee of the Radiation Effects
           Research, the JCCRER work that I'm involved with in
           the bilateral with Russia.  The Russian workers did
           have significant uptakes of plutonium in the early
           days of their activities there and we are looking at
           it from an epidemiological point of view.
                       The Russians have identified what they
           characterize as plutonium pneumoschlerosis which is an
           interstitial lung disease that leads to lung
           deficiency in capacity.  The x-rays show basically
           fibroschlerotic lesions in the lung of the Russian
                       It doesn't take very much.  Basically, the
           uptakes are almost in micro curie quantities, so
           you're not talking about a great deal of uptake, but
           the doses range anywhere from 500 to 3700 rem dose
           equivalent for these workers.
                       This contrasts with the American workers
           in the Manhattan Project that had uptakes, those that
           did have uptakes, had uptakes in the nanocurie range,
           very, very small uptakes and the doses, effective dose
           equivalents were somewhere between 10 and 720 rem and
           we have not identified this issue of plutonium
           pneumoschlerosis that the Russians have identified,
           but we're talking about a lot higher doses in the
           Russian workers.
                       The work that was done with beagles you're
           probably aware some years ago a tremendous amount of
           work was done with beagles and at doses of around 800
           rad.  They did identify what they called radiation
           pneumonitis in the beagles, but again, we haven't
           identified that in any of our workers, but again, we
           have relatively low doses of the workers in the
           Manhattan Project.
                       Our annual limits of intake of plutonium
           oxide and uranium oxide is taken from ICRP document
           number 48 and the modeling from ICRP document number
           30 and we use those documents.  Those numbers continue
           to stand.  I don't know, to my knowledge, the ICRP has
           not determined that they need to go back and re-look
           at these numbers.  Not that it might happen at some
           point in the future, but it has not happened yet for
           the plutonium uranium.  
                       I have in front of me a memorandum that's
           dated October 6, 2000, an NRC memorandum.  It is from
           Eric Leeds who is the Acting Chief of the Special
           Projects Branch, the Division of Fuel Cycle Safety and
           Safeguards in NMSS and Cheryl Trottier who is the
           Chief of Radiation Projection, Environmental Risk and
           Waste Management in risk analysis and applications, a
           branch of research and the conclusion from this
           memorandum is that the NMSS staff concludes that the
           annual limits of intakes published by the NRC in Part
           20 and other available information on plutonium oxide
           and plutonium oxide, uranium oxide radiobiology would
           yield conservative dose estimates were they to be used
           to prepare license application for MOX fuel
           fabrication using weapons grade plutonium.  
                       For this reason, NMSS staff does not
           recommend that the proposed research proposed -- and
           there was a proposal for research -- necessary for NRC
           to reach a safety conclusion on the construction and
           operation of a MOX fuel fabrication facility.  So the
           staff has concluded research is not necessary.
                       MEMBER POWERS:  The contention that's come
           to that particular memorandum, it seems to me, to
           revolve around the issue of in vivo dissolution of
           this plutonium uranium dioxide mechanical mixture and
           whether that, in fact, you get a conservative estimate
           from those because the biological uptake might be
           different and different not only for the plutonium,
           but because of the americium decay in the plutonium
           and what not.
                       And in my looking at it, it really came
           down to how confident this Commission thinks we ought
           to be when we go about attacking this, the challenge
           of licensing this MOX facility.
                       What we have basically is a plausibility
           argument in the memorandum that we're going to be
           conservative and not a proof and so it's one of these
           subjective decisions.  I have to admit I haven't
           looked at the length and the breadth of it, but it
           really basically is how confident do we want to be
           that we are, in fact, reaching a conservative decision
           here because of the biological uptake problem.  It
           looks, I mean it seems pretty plausible that you would
           get a different biological uptake with a mechanical
           mixture than what we have based on the sought
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  Now when you say
           uptake, well, let's back up.  The memorandum also, as
           well as other information that I have read, discusses
           the issue of transportability.  Once the radionuclide
           is in the body, all the research that we know can to
           take on what we have in front of us states, indicates
           that the uptake, the organs of concern, obviously the
           lung through inhalation, that's going to be the
           pathway and the thoracic nodes.
                       The data so far indicate the
           transportability irregardless of form to other organs
           in the body is essentially nil.
                       MEMBER POWERS:  Nil.
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  That it does stay in
           the lung and the thoracic nodes and there is where the
           dose is going to be received.  Transportability other
           ways whatever class is used and they looked at Class
           W transport and Class Y model parameters and still the
           transportability doesn't -- so I think that's
                       MEMBER POWERS:  If you're not going to get
           any transportability, then I don't care whether --
           what the dissolution rates and what not are because
           they're negligible.
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  Right.  Any other
           questions?  I think we always have to keep our minds
           open and be sure some new piece of data -- we're
           always finding new things, that we have the
           possibility that at some time it would have to be
           relooked at, but I'm comfortable because I really
           believe the transportability, the studies on
           transportability --
                       MEMBER KRESS:  Aren't these
           transportability rates and the solubility though --
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  Say again?
                       MEMBER KRESS:  Aren't they dependent on
           each other?  They're not independent variables?
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  Yes.
                       MEMBER KRESS:  So it's hard for me to
           separate the two.
                       MEMBER POWERS:  I think it's dribbling
           down to a plausibility argument that you've got to
           inhale first.  And then it's got to dissolve from the
           sites that it deposits and go into blood stream or
           something like that in order to move on.
                       MEMBER KRESS:  Which means it has to
           transport across the blood vessels.
                       MEMBER POWERS:  Yes.
                       MEMBER KRESS:  But that's the function of
           solubility, to me.
                       MEMBER POWERS:  Right.
                       MEMBER KRESS:  Once it's soluble, so I
           have trouble separating the transportability out from
           the solubility.  If it's not soluble, it's not going
           to be transportable.  But if it is highly soluble, it
           ought to be transportable.
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  I think it's more --
           I think the solubility is not that good.
                       MEMBER POWERS:  It's low solubility.
                       MEMBER KRESS:  I would think it's very
           bad, yeah, and that's the saving --
                       MEMBER POWERS:  The americium is going to
           be a little more soluble than the plutonium which is
           a little more soluble than the uranium.  The uranium
           is bottom of the list here.
                       MEMBER KRESS:  It seems to me like if we
           know that, then their conclusion that you're
           conservative and don't need any more research is
           fairly sound.
                       MEMBER UHRIG:  Are these studies
           independent of the isotope involved, whether it's 241
           plutonium isotope?
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  I don't know the
           answer to that question.
                       MEMBER POWERS:  Most of the --
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  They did look at the
           americium, etcetera.  They looked at others, but what
           isotope of plutonium, it was 239 to my knowledge --
                       MEMBER UHRIG:  239 would probably be the
           logical one.
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  Right.
                       MEMBER UHRIG:  But when you get into
           things like isotopic generators you get into 238 which
           at least my impression is that it's more of a problem.
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  I don't know the
           answer to that.
                       MEMBER POWERS:  It has a much more rapid
           decay rate.  For the facility itself, the facility of
           interest here, it's only the 239 and it depends on
           what -- where the database was generated.  In the
           United States, most of our data comes from the 239. 
           That's a small amount of the data.  The European data
           actually comes from the 240, 241s.
                       MEMBER SHACK:  You were quoting data from
           the Manhattan Project, but we must have vast amounts
           of data on people working with plutonium since those
           days in terms of the weapons -- are the limits --
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  I don't have that
                       MEMBER SHACK:  Does DOE have that data?
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  I hope they do.  I
           have my fingers crossed.  I could find out that for
                       MEMBER SHACK:  I just wondered how these
           limits, whether they were consistent with --
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  Why I used the
           Manhattan Project is I was relating it to the Russian
           workers shortly after that.  That's why I use the
           Manhattan data.  Modern data certainly exists.
                       VICE CHAIRMAN BONACA:  Any other questions
           on this?  If not, I would like to start with one issue
           that clearly is interesting to us which is the impact
           of national energy policy on the Agency and the
           country.  Last Monday and Tuesday we had a workshop,
           as you know, that was reviewing new reactor designs
           and clearly, there is a stirring of interest on the
           part of this committee and the whole community
           regarding this issue and the ties to this on national
           energy policy.  I wonder if you could give us your
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  Sure.  I'd be happy
           to.  Of course, the new energy policy, we're still in
           the process of reviewing of what the real impact might
           be on this Agency, but the obvious impact is new
           energy policy underscores the need for additional
           power plants to provide additional energy and that
           nuclear will remain a viable part of the energy mix.
                       Given that information, coming out of the
           energy policy and if that policy does finally see the
           light of day for Congress and becomes the national
           policy, I do anticipate that the Agency will be
           impacted through additional renewal applications, by
           possibly most of the plants, not all the plants,
           coming in for renewal applications, hopefully not all
           at one time.  I hope they will pace themselves
                       But we do anticipate a strong potential
           that we will get an application or a new reactor
           perhaps in the next two or three years.  Whether it's
           going to be the pebble bed or not, who knows?  That is
           the decision for industry to make and decide what kind
           of reactor, decide if they want to build a new reactor
           and then what kind of reactor they want to build.
                       The challenge to the Agency, the
           challenges to the Agency is if it's a pebble bed to
           have the technical expertise to be able to do it and
           be in front of the curve on that and I have a
           confidence at this point that the staff is acutely
           aware of this and I know staff has been to South
           Africa following the activities there, getting up to
           speed on the pebble bed.
                       There's going to be a challenge to the
           Commission.  We're going to have to address some very
           interesting policy issues of the pebble bed reactor. 
           For example, containment.  What are we going to
           consider with regard to containment?  I mean it
           doesn't have one.  It's a new breed of reactor. 
           Defense-in-depth is another issue that we're going to
           have to come up and look at our policies on 
           defense-in-depth.  Emergency planning becomes a policy
           issue that we're going to have to look at because the
           industry came in to talk to us about the pebble bed
           and indicated, for example, a 2 mile EPZ, that is the
           10 mile EPZ we are accustomed to.  That's just off the
           top of my head.  Those are three major policy issues
           for the Commission to deal with, so we have policy. 
           We have issues.
                       MEMBER KRESS:  They outline several other
           policy issues at our workshop.  For example, how do
           you deal with multiple modules on a given site.  Is
           that treated as one facility or several?  And then
           they had the whole list of financial kind of things
           that I don't know whether it's in the purview of NRC
           or not, things like the Price Anderson Act and --
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  Yes.  How much Price
           Anderson money do you put aside for how many modules
           you have?  
                       MEMBER KRESS:  But then there's the
           question of the fees also, how do you --
                       MEMBER SHACK:  That particular question,
           is that an NRC question or is that a congressional
                       MEMBER KRESS:  I think that's
           congressional, the Price Anderson.
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  The Price Anderson is
           congressional, but the fees --
                       MEMBER KRESS:  The fees I think you can
           deal with.
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  Fees, we can deal
           with, but the Price Anderson consideration would be
                       I think one thing, in some ways, I think
           the Commission is a little bit disappointed that talk
           isn't about coming in with one of the designs that
           we've already approved.  We get all this work and
           these things are sitting on the shelf collecting dust
           and come on, people, it's not one of those off the
           shelf.  All that hard work we did, was it worth the
           time and effort that we put into it.
                       MEMBER KRESS:  That occurred to us.
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  It could be very much
           an application, an interest is growing in the AP1000
           nuclear plant and so --
                       MEMBER POWERS:  We haven't certified that
           one yet.  Look at the System 80.
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  We haven't certified
           the AP1000.  At any rate, it creates for us some very
           interesting things.  One of them is the resource
           impact.  If we got one or more applications and that's
           one of the things on your list, can we deal with more
           than one application and it's a resource call, with
           all the other things that are on our plate and we have
           to convince Congress that we've got to be in front of
           the curve.  We can't wait to have the application on
           our desk and then start trying to hire the people.  We
           need the people a year in advance or so.
                       We have a little bit of leeway in our FTE
           space that we could do a little bit of advanced
           hiring.  We're talking about this in terms of human
           capital now at the Commission level.  How do we
           prepare ourselves for a variety of situations,
           including the fact that approximately 40 percent of
           our staff could retire don us and walk out the door
           tomorrow.  What are we going to do about that?  How
           are we going to replace these people from the pool out
           there?  It's not that big to find people.
                       MEMBER WALLIS:  Well, maybe working on the
           new reactor might encourage some younger people to
           apply.  It might be more exciting than the old stuff.
                       VICE CHAIRMAN BONACA:  One concern that I
           thought about is the thought that NRC has a lot of
           talent and vendors will need talent to design and
           implement these new reactors.  That may be an
           attraction for personnel, so there's also an issue of
           totally retaining knowledgeable staff.
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  That's one of the
           human capital issues that we're addressing and some of
           the fixes that may be possible will require some
           legislative action to be able to do.  We have the
           issue that if there is, indeed, an upswing in the
           nuclear industry and if the industry is going to be
           competing for these people --
                       VICE CHAIRMAN BONACA:  Absolutely.
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  It's going to be a
           very attractive situation, so we're very concerned
           about that.  There is perhaps a little bit of an
           upswing.  Students are beginning to show an interest
           in nuclear engineering and associated fields.  Texas
           A & M University, their freshman class almost doubled.
                       MEMBER WALLIS:  I wonder how many of those
           are actually studying phenomena relevant to new
           reactor design, whether the professors are stimulating
           them to do that, whether the professors are still
           teaching the old stuff?
                       MEMBER KRESS:  With respect to the
           technology related to the pebble bed reactor, it's my
           view, you can become up to speed in a hurry on that
           one, so you've got enough bright people that with a
           little homework, I think you could cover that one. 
           Some of the other concepts may be a little more
           difficult.  I hope I'm still on the ACRS when you have
           to wrestle with this problem of the defense-in-depth
           and the need for containment because I'm really
           looking --
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  You can tell which
           ones are on my mind.  That comes around a lot.  The
           financial issues are there, as well.  Those are all --
           they're different.  When we start talking about
           defense-in-depth, containment and things like that
           from a policy perspective --
                       MEMBER POWERS:  It's real simple.  Just
           tell them they have to have a containment.
                       MEMBER WALLIS:  Dr. Kress said with a
           little homework they could come up to speed.  Maybe
           the ACRS could write some of those homework problems.
                       MEMBER KRESS:  That's a thought.
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  That's a thought.
                       MEMBER POWERS:  It is remarkable to me
           that given all the troubles that the industry has that
           they would want to engage in a battle over either
           containments or EPZs.  It seems to me that those are 
           -- they're guaranteed to be provocative and their low
           level fights compared to other things that the
           industry has to contend with.  And they bragged about
           how good their existing plants are.  Just look at TMI. 
           Nothing occurred because of a good solid containment. 
           Look how terrible the Russians are because they had a
           lousy containment unlike ours and then they said we're
           going to get rid of it.  It's a very peculiar battle.
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  The arguments will be
                       MEMBER POWERS:  I think it's peculiar
           economics on their part too because when I have looked
           at containment costs as a fraction of plant costs,
           you're talking about a 7 percent effect.  And so if
           you get rid of it totally, you change the cost by 7
           percent.  This doesn't look like a big change.
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  Well, with the
           Emergency Planning Zone it's likely, in my view, that
           the first one or two to whatever design, if it's a
           pebble bed, probably be constructed near or at a
           distant site.  Shrink it down.
                       MEMBER WALLIS:  Well, you may plan for a
           small zone, but if there's an accident, the population
           in a bigger zone may think that there's an emergency
           for them too.
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  Right.  That's true. 
           We do expect to get some applications in this year for
           early site permits.
                       MEMBER POWERS:  Are those new sites or are
           they locating plants on existing sites?
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  I don't know.
                       MEMBER POWERS:  Okay.
                       VICE CHAIRMAN BONACA:  During the
           presentation from NEI, there was an interesting 
           vu-graph where they were showing that they expect to
           have over 10,000 megawatts of electric coming from
           uprates and of course we are involved now in reviewing
           uprates as well as reviewing life extension.
                       I would like to have your thoughts about
           -- clearly, there's going to be a challenge with not
           only licensing new plants, but maintaining current
           plants operating at a higher rating and for longer
           periods of times and working safely and efficiently. 
           So I don't know if you had any thoughts on this issue?
                       MEMBER KRESS:  To get that kind of power,
           it's going to take substantial uprates to 20 and 30
           percent type levels.
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  I think we'll have to
           look at that.  We are uprating.  Some plants are going
           already, I can't remember offhand which ones for
           fairly high.  I think Palo Verde may be going for a
           fairly high uprate, but doing it in steps and that
           might be maybe the way to go.  That gives us a chance
           to look at what the issues really are.  I'm not up to
           speed technically on what those issues are going to be
           for uprates and some of the --
                       MEMBER WALLIS:  Well, the manufacturers
           assure us that there are very few issues.
                       MEMBER POWERS:  I mean the argument that
           gets advanced is that the FSARs for the plants were
           originally for a much higher power than what they have
           been operating at and I happen to know it's because of
           some recommendations made by this Committee, these
           many years ago that they operated at the lower power,
           but they seem to not recognize that there have been
           some changes in the way things are done at boiling
           water reactor modes -- the big power uprates are all
           boiling water reactors, that weren't recognized in the
           early FSARs.  And I think of things like outwash
           recovery actions.  We're going to drop the level of a
           coolant down, introduce SLIC and then we're going to
           bring it up.
                       Now tell me about the lateral forces on
           cool rods that you've operated at high burnups so that
           they're nicely embrittled and the fact that the time
           that you have to do this has decreased now because
           you've been operating at a higher power.  Those are
           kinds of technical questions that I have not seen
           addressed for these big power uprates and they're just
           not incorporated in the FSARs because these things
           have occurred since the original FSAR was written.
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  Actually, I think one
           of the things that you might consider doing is really
           listing the issues that you see with these power
           uprates.  That would be useful to the staff in getting
           that information because I hadn't heard that 10,000. 
           that's a lot.
                       I hadn't heard that figure.  That gives me
           a little bit of cause for concern that we're not just
           beginning to run amok.
                       MEMBER POWERS:  We have over a unit's
           worth, over a thousand megawatt electrical on our
           agenda right now, so 10,000 doesn't sound out of the
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  No, it doesn't, but
           still, you know --
                       MEMBER POWERS:  It's a bunch of plants.
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  It's one thing when
           if we get this change in the future of nuclear power
           is to be able to pace that change so that doesn't run
           amok, say that we just suddenly there's a snowball
           effect that -- then we have an error.  We don't need
           the error.  That won't work for anybody.  It won't
           work for the American people.  We're going to need the
           energy.  So I want us to be trying to look as far
           ahead as we possibly can, pace this change.  I think
           the Committee -- it would be very, very helpful to the
           Commission in thinking along those terms and trying to
           identify the issues as you see them and keep this
           process very mature and very capable of dealing with
           change that may occur.
                       MEMBER POWERS:  One of the things that's
           snowballing, not a fair term, one of the things that's
           moving along expeditiously nowadays is license renewal
           and we're seeing increasing public concern, it seems
           to me when they see on the one hand license renewals
           being granted and on the other hand, numerous reports
           of phenomena and processes occurring to the plant that
           at least in their mind look like aging phenomena,
           cracks in pressure vessel heads, cracks in nozzles,
           that sort of thing.  And they don't draw the
           distinction between active components and nonactive
                       The question comes about is do we have a
           public relations problem here or do we have rule
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  I think we have a
           public information problem.  This is a perennial
           problem.  It's one of the things the Commission is
           looking at as both our external and internal
           communications has been tasked with dealing with this
           issue, public relations, public information, public
           communication concept.
                       We don't say and this is what we're not
           getting this information out.  I think when we go to
           the sites and we have our public meetings and not
           getting the information out, that we're not saying
           that there will be no aging issues.  Of course,
           there's going to be aging issues.  What we do in
           license renewal is very carefully look at what the
           licensee's program is to identify and deal with aging
           issues, but there will be aging issues.  If you've got
           a vintage car, you work on it to keep it running
           because it's going to have thing go awry.
                       I don't think, I don't know that the
           public is getting that message that yes, there are
           some issues.  We have steam generator tube issues. 
           We've got the cracking issues.  We may probably are
           going to identify some other issues, but the point is
           being we can't identify them and the licensees have
           this aging management program in place and the
           wherewithal to deal with it.  I think we have a public
           communication issue.
                       MEMBER POWERS:  I think the licensees may
           not serve their best interests when they get surprised
           by an event and then say oh yeah, but we can run six
           more cycles with cracks and things.  Somebody who is
           not intimately involved, it's not obvious that you
           ought to run six cycles with cracks in your cylinder
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  Right.  I'm a little
           concerned about that.
                       VICE CHAIRMAN BONACA:  And I think it's
           kind of difficult to reverse that perception in part
           because for so long we have licensed plants for 40
           years. I mean we have a built-in perception that after
           40 years these plants must be retired, otherwise why
           with only 40 years.  And to reverse the perception is
           going to be very hard.
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  Yeah, because the 40
           years was picked out of the sky.
                       VICE CHAIRMAN BONACA:  Exactly.
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  It was a financial
                       VICE CHAIRMAN BONACA:  Absolutely.
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  Well, in 40 years
           they'll have it paid for, so we'll just license them
           for 40 years.  It had nothing to do with plant
                       VICE CHAIRMAN BONACA:  That's right.
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  And we didn't that
           message out either.
                       VICE CHAIRMAN BONACA:  That's right.
                       MEMBER WALLIS:  While we're talking about
           public perception, this Committee has discussed there
           are various kinds of public.  One tends to perhaps
           think of the public as being John Q. Public, but there
           are actually some quite sophisticated technical people
           out there and they need to see some technical evidence
           in the form of reports or something that the NRC is on
           top of these subjects technically.
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  In January, I was at
           a conference.  It was sponsored by NEA in Switzerland
           and it was public perceptions of risk and public
           communications and so forth and so on and that was one
           of the themes that came out of that conference.  It
           was an excellent conference.  It was by invitation. 
           I think there were about 70 of us there from around
           the world, mostly Europe.  And there are many
           different kinds of public and you've got to talk to
           those many different kinds of public stakeholders,
           including the ones, the technical people, the
           nontechnical people.  It was a really good conference.
                       MEMBER SHACK:  One of the last times we
           had a meeting with the Commission you asked me whether
           I thought we were still making sufficient progress
           towards risk-informed regulation.
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  Right.
                       MEMBER SHACK:  I just wondered, what your
           perception is?
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  Turnabout is fair
                       MEMBER SHACK:  When you first came here,
           we were talking about low hanging fruit.
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  Right.
                       MEMBER SHACK:  We're still picking that
           low hanging fruit which just doesn't --
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  It may have fallen
           off the tree.
                       I think we're moving.  It's slow. 
           Progress is very slow in risk informing.  I don't know
           if it's the proper speed or not, whether we could move
           a little faster or maybe we're moving at the right
           speed because we're trickling over into such a new
           arena for everyone, for us and for the industry itself
           and whether or not the industry is actually going to
           be able to use the risk-informed regulation.
                       We've stumbled over 5046.  We hope to get
           a paper some time, but we're not sure exactly -- the
           staff is struggling with it, on how to do it and what
           to do with it.  
                       So we are dedicated to the concept we are
           going forward.  We do have issues.  The industry has
           issues with us.  Sometimes we get criticism because
           we're moving too slowly.  Every once in a while I hear
           someone say we're not sure we're ready to do, to go to
           a risk-informed regulation.  But I think we have to
           leap out there, it may be a leap of faith, carefully
           trying not to step in too many potholes as we go
                       It's going to be interesting when we get
           some really good and working risk-informed regulations
           out and see licensees make their decision if they're
           going to use the risk-informed regulation or stick
           with the old regulation because we will have two sets
           of regulations which is going to be interesting, I
           think, from the Commission's point of view and how the
           staff is going to deal with that.
                       But one of the things that we talk about,
           talked about -- my staff talked about it with Dr.
           Apostalakis is the quality and value of the PRAs that
           we have and how that's going to interact with the
           risk-informed regulation.  It doesn't keep us from
           risk informing our regulations, but it may keep
           licensees from being able to use it because if they
           don't have a very good PRA, they're not going to be
           able to use a risk-informed regulation and hopefully
           before too long we will have a standard and then we're
           going to have take a look at those PRAs that don't
           meet the standard and the licensees are going to have
           to start making some decisions, so I would -- I get a
           little bit concerned that we get on, get busy with
           getting our regulations risk informed and deal with
           these two sets of regulations that we're going to have
           for each one of the issues and then very few licensees
           go risk informed, be sort of like all the work we did
           on certifying designs and no one seems to want to use
                       I hope that doesn't happen.
                       MEMBER POWERS:  It seems to me that the
           regulations that we've considered risk informing up
           until now, that includes to some extent the fire
           protection regulation with NFPA who insists that's not
           risk informed.  The regulation is some hybrid, but put
           it in that category and now 5046, I don't think you're
           going to see licensees jumping at this.  Where you're
           going to see continued licensee use is Reg Guide 1.174
           for plant changes.
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  Right.
                       MEMBER POWERS:  That is already proving
           its use.  And already we are -- we keep running into
           the problem that the PRA quality may be an issue, but
           the scope is even a bigger issue and I think with the
           emergence of the results coming out of the IPEEE, I
           don't know whether you've had a chance to look at
           those or not, but those are illuminating to me that
           risk from the so-called external events which includes
           internal fires which is a historical thing that adds
           to challenges I think the public has in understanding
           PRA are really quite commensurate with normal
           operational risks and until we have people coming in
           with PRAs that say yes, I take into account all of the
           risks, not just the operational risks during -- when
           the plant has power, but also these things in fire
           which is a risk that people have a very intuitive
           sense about, that you're going to have two kinds of
           difficulties, one, challenges from public and
           challenges in using 1.174 to its full potential.
                       Getting back to the actual regulations,
           you're not going to see people sweeping to those until
           there's a much fuller set.  One at a time, you're
           going to have the out person do it.
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  You are going to have
           the out person do it and it may be that one of the
           things, those regulations that tend to have a generic
           approach or a generic basis may be -- if we can get
           those out, then I think we can get wider use and I
           think once a few plants or a few licensees really leap
           off, take that leap of faith to get fully involved in
           utilizing a risk-informed regulation, it will be like
           license renewal.  Once Calvert Cliff got the courage
           up to take that leap of faith and thus tried to do
           this, and it went well and Oconee went well, now the
           flood gate is open.  And I think the same thing will
           happen, but it will take a while.
                       MEMBER POWERS:  I think you will see 1.174
           still being used a lot.  It's proving to be an
           attractive vehicle for making changes in plants.
                       MEMBER WALLIS:  Can I make a connection
           between the last two subjects, the public perception
           and risk informed?  We have a couple members of the
           public here and they seem to be suspicious that 
           risk-informed regulation is a way to reduce the burden
           on industry, whereas it seems to me that the drive for
           risk-informed regulation really should come from the
           public because this is where you actually face up to
           the question of what is the risk and what's being done
           about it and that's far better than some rather
           arbitrary prescription.  It's surprising that the
           public can't sort of be better aware of the fact that
           this is in their interest and perhaps they should be
           more the driving force behind it.
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  This is just another
           example of whoever has the responsibility.  In my RIC
           speech, I'd put a burden on the industry.  You people
           should be out there talking about what you're doing in
           the realm of safety.  It's your responsibility to talk
           about your safety records. It's not our
           responsibility.  It's our responsibility to ensure
           that you are doing that, but you're the ones that have
           to do it.  The plant is your responsibility.  And I
           think what -- the words you just used, reduce burden
           on the licensee, they hear burden, reduce burden. 
           They don't hear reduce unnecessary regulatory burden. 
           And the whole issue is that when we make essentially
           everything the same importance, even if it's whether
           or not how they signed off on a particular piece of
           paper which literally has nothing to do with safety,
           when we make that just as important as how well
           they're taking care of their pipes and pumps and
           everything else, then the same emphasis, they can't
           put the emphasis and this is a message we're not
           getting out to the public.  They can put the emphasis
           they should on those systems, structures and
           components that are absolutely vital to safety because
           they're having to spend time on something that is not
           vital or even important to safety and what we're doing
           is taking these things and putting them down here, got
           to be done, but it's not as important as these things,
           now you can put attention on here.  We're not getting
           that message out to the public.  And the industry is
           not getting that message out to the public.  I don't
           have an answer for that.  But any time I can, when I'm
           talking to the public, you know, and this question
           comes up, you explain it, and then they do understand. 
           You don't discount the public that can't understand
           these things.  They understand them very well.  If
           they get the right information.
                       So it's a communication issue that we all
           need to work a little bit better at.
                       VICE CHAIRMAN BONACA:  The unfortunate
           thing is that, for example in the case of South Texas,
           there are a number of exemptions resulting from risk
           information and but if initial exemption means that
           you're going to have to do any more or something that
           you had to do before, and if you are ill-disposed, I
           guess the technology, you jump to the conclusion very
           easily and this can be so easily instrumentalized and
           that's one of the issues that of course, whenever you
           remove burden, the word unnecessary doesn't come to
           mind in that case.
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  Does not come in.
                       MEMBER LEITCH:  Further on this area of
           public perception, since joining the ACRS I've taken
           to reading the daily event reports and I'm struck by
           the number of medical administration issues,
           industrial problems, radiography problems, misuse,
           loss of radio isotopes.  I don't really have a
           historical perspective on that whole area.  Did an
           increase in these kind of incidents over the years are
           at least stable --
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  I think it's fairly
           stable.  It may, in fact, have gone down just a little
           bit, but medical administrations probably running
           pretty well what they normally run.  I don't have
           stats in front of me.  There might be hills and
           valleys along, but there hadn't been what I would
           consider a steady increase or a steady increase. 
           They're running about the same. 
                       Lost or stolen sources, about the same. 
           One thing, I think we're going to see in the offering
           source issue, I think we're going to see a real
           improvement in the offering source issue because of
           our registration program that we're going to put in
           for general licensees.
                       That's going to make people start having
           to really go out and find sources.  In some cases,
           they didn't even know they had a gauge in their
           plants.  It's sold two or three times and they're
           going to be surprised when they get our letter saying
           we have a record that shows you've got XYZ and they
           say we didn't know we had this.  And then they start
           looking for them.  But I think in two or three years
           with that kind of accountability that we're going to
           put in place, I think we will see a decline in some of
           these gauges, etcetera, winding up in the public
                       So that part should improve.  I think the
           others run about the same.  It was, I think, my first
           speech that I gave at the RIC, first or second, at the
           RIC.  I talked about the fact that where we are
           unnecessarily irradiating workers and members of the
           public is through the radioactive materials side of
           the house and not in the reactor side of the house. 
           And that's where -- that's not recognized that much. 
           We just had the issue in Panama.  That's not a U.S.
           issue, but several patients have died as a result, who
           were having radiation therapy because of still trying
           to ferret it out, but they received more radiation
           than they should have.  And reasons for that still not
           real clear, other than their own parameters were put
           in.  But why it's still unclear.
                       It is, and we continue to have medical
           administrations with our best efforts to prevent it.
                       MEMBER SHACK:  One thing that comes out of
           the new reactors as we look at them, they appear to be
           much safer than our existing --
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  They have the passive
           safety systems, yeah.  
                       MEMBER SHACK:  Right.  Do you think that
           would increase pressure to rethink our notion of how
           safe is safe enough?  That would be out in the future
           that -- would our safety goal be something that people
           would actually have to achieve, rather than aspire to?
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  I don't know.  But
           it's a possibility.
                       Right now we're wrestling with safety goal
           policy statements.
                       VICE CHAIRMAN BONACA:  I imagine if the
           number of new applications were many and the number of
           reactors would be large numbers, then there would have
           to be some important consideration.
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  I think at some point
           we would really have to relook at that and I think
           that's the issue why there's some hesitation now on
           the Commission's part to go further or at this point,
           to add to a revised safety goal policy statement,
           waiting to see more regulation is risk informed,
           seeing what does, in fact, happen, whatever the
           economics are that the nuclear power industry makes
           decisions accordingly, and maybe at that point in time
           we do need to take another look at the safety goal
           policy statements, what we plan to do with them.
                       MEMBER POWERS:  If the staff really runs
           into a long-term hurdle in 5046, do you think they
           ought to rethink their option paper to you?
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  Yes.
                       MEMBER POWERS:  I think so too.  I mean --
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  I think that's in the
                       MEMBER POWERS:  Is it?
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  As far as I know.
                       VICE CHAIRMAN BONACA:  Just thinking about
           these new reactors.  We had presentations that speak
           about the system and again I was thinking about the
           comments from Dr. Powers regarding fire, external
           events.  I think it will be important for us as a
           Committee to really pay attention to those external
           events which really create comment mode failure and
           because the focus has always been so much on the
           plant, specifically, and those external events are
           truly the challenge that is not fully appreciated in
           the existing plants.
                       In fact, the IPEEE were going to review
           them now, the results of it, but there isn't such an
           understanding of their impact, really, on the safety
           as there is for internal events.
                       MEMBER POWERS:  And you get these
           remarkable things.  As we move toward more risk-
           informed regulation in a different reactor oversight
           program and we look at corrective action programs you
           always find that.  The oldest things on the corrective
           program are the fire protection stuff.  They don't
           produce kilowatts so they come up bottom on the list.
                       And they're producing risks that are
           comparable to the normal operations.  This is real
           risk information here that's just not being used, but
           a licensee --
                       VICE CHAIRMAN BONACA:  The reason why I
           bring it up is that their own paper, they can really
           design something which is for internal events,
           significantly and clearly safer than current plants,
           but if you don't pay attention to the external events,
           in the siting, for example, and other issues that may
           affect the plant, still you have this component which
           is not fully appreciated which is really the driver of
           common cause.  If you have -- and we will have to be
           very sensitive to those kind of issues, otherwise,
           we'll have a perception of much better plants, much
           safer and maybe the perception is not correct.
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  And because of the
           perception that may cause a lax attitude on things
           that ought to be, as you said, given a great deal of
           attention because they can create the unsafe situation
           in this safe plant.
                       VICE CHAIRMAN BONACA:  That's right.
                       MEMBER KRESS:  At the risk of being a dead
           horse with a red herring --
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  Just got back from
                       MEMBER KRESS:  How do you feel about the
           need for a substantial improvement in the risk
           assessment capability with respect to shut down risk?
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  Well, everything that
           I read, well, indicates to me that there are some
           significant risks in low power and shut down from the
           point of view that you may have some systems very
           necessary for safety that are down.  They're not
           available to you, so if you have some event, external
           or internal, that occurs that you need that system or
           component, whatever, and it's not available to you,
           then I think you have some element of risk.  You don't
           have the reactor running, okay, fine, but you can
           still have something occur.  That's what I read,
           that's my understanding.  Obviously, this isn't my
           field and I'm very dependent upon what I learn
           externally to understand these sort of things.
                       Now on the Commission, there are feelings
           on both sides of the fence.  There are strong feelings
           that basically there are very few risks at low power
           shutdown and it's just because the reactor is not
           running.  Everything can be handled because you have
           time.  Time is on your side.  And that's true too,
           probably.  I just think -- I guess to make me have a
           greater comfort level, I need it to be looked at and
           if I'm sure that the answer is no, there really isn't
           a great deal of concern here at low power shut down
           situations because it can be handled and I've got
           little bullet items to tell me how that's going to be
           done and I will have a comfort level.  Right now, I
           just don't quite have that comfort level.
                       MEMBER POWERS:  It's examining what's
           necessary because you're right, time is on your side
           here.  But if you look at what we have to go on right
           now --
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  We don't have much.
                       MEMBER POWERS:  Well, that time has not
           been factored in in any kind of realistic way, so
           we're stuck right now with actually -- those people
           that think everything is okay, don't understand. 
           We're making decisions based on information that says
           things aren't okay because the original studies were
           all very conservative.  Examination of it is exactly
           what needs to be done.
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  Maybe we can put it
           to rest one way or the other.
                       MEMBER POWERS:  And you can and you have
           to recognize there's a difference between scheduled
           and unscheduled shut downs, that a scheduled shutdown,
           I think the industry is doing a marvelous job with
           scheduled shutdowns.  And when we visited the plants,
           it's only reinforced my view on how well they're doing
           because they're very clever individuals.
                       The unscheduled shutdowns, however --
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  That's different.
                       MEMBER POWERS:  Don't have that kind of
           planning.  So it's really examining it.  It's not
           because you think that there's any imminent things
           that have to be done, new regulations written.  It's
           finding out what the status is.  It's really causing
           a problem right now.
                       MEMBER FORD:  As the newest and maybe most
           gauche Member of this Committee, I'd be interested to
           know what your views are for the longer term future,
           for instance, right now we're proactively implementing
           risk-informed policies.  But what do you see happening
           in five years?  Ten years out, as far as what you'd
           like this Committee to be focusing in, on that sort of
           time scale?
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  I think a couple of
           things immediately came to mind.  Say 5 to 10 years
           from now, hopefully, we do have a full range or almost
           full range, certainly in 10 years, of better risk-
           informed regulations.
                       I think it's going to be incumbent on all
           of us and especially this Committee to be sure that
           we're catching everything we need to catch, that the 
           risk-informed regulation is indeed being focused on
           what is really important to safety and we haven't
           dropped something or we have something that we've
           declared important to safety that may not be that
           keeping in mind that this is going to be a living
           document, quite frankly, a living process.  And we --
           five years, I'd like to see us begin in five years and
           then in the 5 to 10 year range refine it.  And fix any
           little problems that we see.
                       The other thing, of course, we really will
           be getting well into control of aging issues.  Some of
           these plants will in 10 years beginning to start their
           second 20 years or their new life and I think this
           Committee would serve the Commission very well that
           you are really looking out there, 5 to 10 years on
           what might happen next, so there aren't any surprises. 
           And we can give a heads up to the licensees that we
           think you better watch this, this could become a
           problem.  So that is where I think I would like to see
           you put a lot of your effort.
                       MEMBER FORD:  Bearing in mind the public
           perception acceptance is an important part of your
           cornerstones.  What role do you think we should be
           playing in ensuring that there's not a problem
                       If there's another major problem offshore,
           that's going to impact the public perception in this
           country.  Should we be, we the NRC, be actively
           involved in helping regulation?  I say that advisedly,
           obviously, you're not going to politically, from a
           technical point of view situation in Japan or Russia
           or --
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  I'd like to give that
           some thought.  Now we are involved with several
           countries through a variety of mechanisms to with
           regulations, with exchange of information of maybe
           from time to time we lend people to the IEEA on OSARs
           and other kinds of reviews, regulatory reviews, so we
           are involved.  To what extent the ACRS has an
           involvement, I don't know, other than clearly -- I was
           surprised actually that the Tokamura accident didn't
           get very much press in this country.  The Panama
           misadministration event, very little press in this
           country.  Something like Chernobyl, obviously, it
           affected the world and it had an impact here in the
           U.S. as well.  That's going to get a lot of press and
           a lot of attention.
                       We, through a variety of mechanisms,
           mostly IEEE and NEA, like to see some of the unsafe
           reactors that are in the former Soviet Union countries
           not operate because we do feel that they have some
           issues with them that the safety level is not what we
           demand in this country and in other areas, but I mean
           if you identified something that you think the
           Commission must be aware of some place else, offshore,
           as you mentioned, I think it would be incumbent among
           you to let us know about that and then to what extent
           we have an opportunity through the avenues that we
           currently have in place to deal with that and I think
           that would be valuable information and I would see it
           from that point of view.
                       MEMBER UHRIG:  There were a couple of
           trends that were discussed in the advanced reactors
           meeting we had this week.  One of them is long-term
           operation without shutdown, either through continuous
           refueling like the pebble bed or in the case of the
           IRIS, they're looking at an AE or fuel cycle,
           something of this sort.  And the other thing that was
           discussed is automated operation for a minimum number
           of operators involved where you have perhaps 10
           modules, but only in the case of the South African
           concept about three operators to handle all 10 of
                       I wonder if you could give us your
           thoughts on this type of thing for do we need
           additional layers of assured safety associated with
           this type of operation or is the present regime of
           regulation adequate?
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  For the refueling on
           line for both instances that you talked about, longer
           runs or in some cases being able to refuel while the
           reactors at some level of power and then other is the
           pebble bed and --
                       MEMBER UHRIG:  Pebble bed is the
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  But less operators
           with the pebble bed with more modules.
                       MEMBER UHRIG:  Yes.
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  So you want me to
           address what I think our regulatory structure --
                       MEMBER UHRIG:  There are two separate
           issues here.  One is manpower associated with the
           operation and automated operation and the second one
           has to do with long --
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  I think we got into
           -- I don't know if we need regulatory changes or not. 
           You get into reduced manpower and automated operation
           might well be.  Certainly, we're going to have to
           address it from the safety point of view and the risk
           point of view, so whether that would lead to a
           regulatory change I think the study of looking at it
           will tell us whether we need regulatory changes, might
           well do with that.
                       As far as being, of course, the pebble
           bed, putting that side as far as short -- longer runs
           and being able to refuel, without total shutdown, that
           is probably going to be a regulatory, something that
           has to be done from that point of view.  I don't know.
                       MEMBER UHRIG:  The IRIS concept had an 8
           year core.
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  Uh-huh.
                       MEMBER UHRIG:  And they would propose to
           continue operation for 8 years before shutting down to
           refuel.  And this is unprecedented in any operation
           that we've had in --
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  I don't know.  I
           would have to get information on that.  I just can't
           answer the question at this point.
                       MEMBER UHRIG:  Pebble bed was proposing,
           I believe it was 7 years before they shut down for a
           major overhaul, 7 or 8, something of this sort, so in
           both cases, it was the order of 8 years.
                       MEMBER KRESS:  It seems like it would
           impact your ability to monitor and inspect and find
           out if anything is working its way towards disaster. 
           Might call for more instrumentation, at least.
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  That will just be
           part of our learning curve and some of the things we
           ought to consider as we get into that sort, get into
           those kinds of reactors and our staff will have to
           come back, look to you for a lot of information on it
           as well.
                       Anything else?
                       VICE CHAIRMAN BONACA:  It seems as if we
           are out of questions.
                       MEMBER POWERS:  I am running out of
           ability to take notes here.
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  You've been taking
                       MEMBER POWERS:  I'm hanging on every word
                       VICE CHAIRMAN BONACA:  We seem to have run
           out of questions.  Certainly, it has been a wonderful
           exchange and very informative.  We thank you for
           coming and spending some time with us.
                       COMMISSIONER DICUS:  Thank you.  I
           appreciate it.  I know some of the issues because
           they're really technical, out of my field.  I'm not
           quite up on the concepts and the policies and things
           of that nature.  I've enjoyed talking about them with
           you.  You've got your work cut out for you, I think,
           in your next 5 or 10 years.  There's a lot coming down
           the pike and we're going to look to you for a lot of
           advice being an advisory committee.
                       Thank you.
                       (Whereupon, at 10:03 a.m., the meeting was

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