The Senior Technical Review Group of the Amarillo National Resource
Center for Plutonium has provided critical review for the preliminary
reports of the Office of Fissile Materials Disposition, U.S. Department
of Energy (DOE), related to the screening process of options for
the disposition of surplus weapons-usable fissile material. This
screening process will be the basis for an announcement in August
1996 of the Record of Decision regarding the disposition options
that will be developed for implementation.
This is the third in a series of reports by the Senior Technical
Review Group. The subject of this report is a review of DOE's
proposed application of decision theory to the selection process
for plutonium disposition. The comments and recommendations included
here also reiterate primary recommendations previously submitted
to the DOE by the Group.
The Senior Technical Review Group includes a Nobel laureate and
six members of the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering.
(An annotated list of the Senior Technical Review Group members
In response to a Presidential Initiative that called for a comprehensive
approach to the growing stockpile of fissile materials from dismantled
nuclear weapons, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) developed
a screening process to consider potential options for: (1) Long-term
storage of strategic reserve and surplus weapons-usable fissile
materials, (2) Disposition of surplus weapons-usable fissile materials
determined excess to national security needs. There are approximately
50 metric tons of plutonium and a greater quantity of surplus
highly-enriched uranium in the U.S., and at least as much in the
former Soviet Union. In developing the screening process, DOE
obtained public input on screening criteria to be utilized and
options to be evaluated.
Prior to distribution of the reports for the screening process,
the Amarillo National Resource Center for Plutonium was asked
by DOE's Office of Fissile Materials Disposition to review the
preliminary draft reports. An expert review group, the Senior
Technical Review Group, was assembled to comment on the screening
process and the options delineated in these reports. This Group
includes a Nobel laureate and six members of the National Academies
of Sciences and Engineering. An annotated list of the Senior
Technical Review Group members is attached.
To date, the Senior Technical Review Group has reviewed three
DOE documents, listed below. The findings and recommendations of the Group
were forwarded to the DOE Office of Fissile Materials Disposition. The third document submitted to the Senior Technical
Review Group titled, A Methodology for the Analysis and Selection
of Alternatives for the Disposition of Surplus Plutonium, is
the subject of this report.
The comprehensive review of disposition alternatives which is
underway by the DOE Office of Fissile Materials Disposition will
be the basis for an announcement in August 1996 of the Record
of Decision regarding the disposition alternatives that will be
developed for implementation.
List of Senior Technical Review Group Reports
Review Process and Principal Recommendations
The Senior Technical Review Group received the report titled A
Methodology for the Analysis and Selection of Alternatives for
the Disposition of Surplus Plutonium prior to a meeting in
Washington, D.C. on 18 July 1995. At that meeting, the Group
received additional input from Andre I. Cygelman, deputy technical
director, DOE Office of Fissile Materials Disposition and James
S. Dyer, chair, Department of Management Science and Information
Systems, The University of Texas at Austin.
Dr. Dyer described to the Group the proposed application of decision
theory to the selection process for plutonium disposition. The
Group expressed skepticism about the plan as presented and suggested
that the objectives be refined, reorganized and prioritized.
It was concluded that decision theory is potentially a useful
adjunct to the decision process if done carefully by knowledgeable
individuals, noting that care should be taken to ensure that its
role is advisory to the decision makers.
While understanding that DOE's decision-making approach is seemingly
redundant in order to ensure that all stakeholders are included
and to provide the public an adequate background on the relevant
issues, the Senior Technical Review Group members expressed disappointment
that their previous recommendations and preferred disposition
options did not appear to be reflected in the evolution of the
selection process. Specifically, unpromising and/or untimely
options have not been eliminated from consideration. Additionally,
it is not apparent that the decision process has incorporated
the idea that technical alternatives fall into four categories,
namely, those: (1) with well established parameters, (2) subject
to further study, (3) dependent upon future R&D results, and
(4) not likely to be useful.
In principle a Record of Decision is to be based on site independent
considerations but, since in the interest of timeliness some existing
facilities will be used, true site independence is not possible.
Informal consideration should be given to this question, even
if it cannot presently be included in the formal methodology.
In light of the above, and after extensive discussion, the Senior
Technical Review Group recommends:
The recommendations put forth
by the Senior Technical Review Group in March 1995, were based
on the immediacy of the threat to national and international security
posed by excess weapon-grade plutonium in the world. From the
ten options evaluated in the DOE summary report (see list below),
the Senior Technical Review Group pointed out that three of the
options identified by DOE appeared to have the greatest potential
for immediate development and use for the timely disposition of
weapon-grade plutonium: DOE options I-3, R-2 (or R-2A) and R-6.
Additionally, the Review Group noted that another option, identified
by DOE as option R-1, transfer to the EURATOM market for mixed-oxide
(MOX) fuel reactor burning, technically offers the most rapid
way to carry out the disposition option since MOX fabrication
facilities and MOX burning reactors are already in operation in
Europe. However, international agreements would have to be reached,
overseas shipments of plutonium and possibly spent fuel would
be required, and an equivalent amount of commercial separated
plutonium would have to be stored, which could counter the timing
advantage for the disposition of excess plutonium in the U.S.
But, option R-1 could be attractive as a means of disposing of
Russian weapon plutonium because the impediment of overseas shipment
is nonexistent and licensing is simplified; plutonium recycle
is a commercially licensed process in Europe.
List of plutonium disposition options selected
as reasonable by the DOE during the first phase of their screening process (see Draft Summary Report of the Screening Process to Determine
Reasonable Alternatives for Storage and Dispostion of Weapon-Usable
Materials, February 1995, DOE Office of Fissile Materials
The two options identified as the most promising for timely disposition
of weapon-grade plutonium in the report released on 10 July 1995
by the National Academy of Sciences Panel on Reactor-Related Options
for the Disposition of Excess Weapons Plutonium are these:
The two options cited above correspond to the three DOE options
identified as preferred by the Senior Technical Review Group.
The decision process leading
to the Record of Decision of the Secretary of Energy on the disposition
options for surplus plutonium is evolving into a long chain: the
Secretary, the Under Secretary, the Office of Fissile Materials
Disposition, the Amarillo National Resource Center for Plutonium,
the various DOE technical teams (for reactor disposition, bore
hole disposition, immobilization, and security and safety), and
the systems analysis team (charged with coordination and synthesis).
This process protracts the timeline and more importantly diffuses
responsibility over an increasing number of people, many of whom
may have less than full grasp of the substantive content of the
information that affects the final decision. Further, an integrated
approach with consistent definition and treatment of common issues
will be more difficult to achieve from separate, specialist teams.
It is important that the detail results of the individual teams
be reviewed for consistency by a broadly experienced team with
the overall responsibility for the disposition program. The present
DOE decision process includes a systems analysis team. Systems
analysis is a process by which the output from more specialized
teams is coordinated and systematized. While this is of value
in managing a construction project or similar enterprise, here
the synthesis of the technical and other input for decision is
the responsibility of the decision makers themselves. The Group
would like to know the composition of and charge to DOE's system
analysis team. Delegation to a systems analysis team may be counterproductive.
It would seem that DOE together with the Amarillo National Resource
Center should perform its own synthesis. Additionally, the two
studies on the management and disposition of excess plutonium
recently released by the National Academy of Science can provide
much beneficial information. Maximum use should be made of existing
studies, as appropriate.
Because of the urgent security need to initiate
timely disposition of plutonium, a lower priority should be given
to additional technological benefits in the selection of the disposition
option(s). The disposition of weapon-grade plutonium is an issue
that should not be complicated or delayed by those who would use
it to advance or inhibit the development of new technologies for
commercial nuclear power.
The objectives and measures reviewed
by the Senior Technical Review Group are included in the Appendix
of this report and specific elements from the list are shown in
bold face type below. The group specifically recommended that
weight be given to the most important elements. Additionally,
the Group suggested reorganization of the groupings, changes to
the list of objectives and measures, and modification of the terminology
The dominant objective is timeliness of a coordinated U.S.
and Russian program for safe storage and disposition of excess
weapon plutonium, but subject to meeting the security elements
included in the proposed analysis, that is, resistance to theft
and resistance to re-use, and the environmental, safety
and health (ES&H) requirements during both the storage
and disposition processes. Cost is a secondary objective
since timeliness, security and the ES&H requirements
should not be compromised to attain lower costs and costs are
anticipated to be moderate for all options when compared to the
potential security costs that could be incurred. Technical
uncertainty impacts timeliness and cost and
is therefore a subsidiary objective that nevertheless should be
kept visible. Also effecting timeliness is the probabilities
of obtaining necessary licenses.
With regard to the groupings of the objectives, it was recommended
that there might be some advantage to separating technical
viability and cost effectiveness, since the technical
problems of each and every alternative should be determined prior
to cost analysis. The uncertainties inherent in research and
development dictates that technical issues remain separate and
visible throughout the decision-making process. On the other
hand, if the complete separation of technical viability
and cost effectiveness is found to oversimplify the case,
a smaller subset of viable alternatives should be evaluated based
on both their timeliness and relative affordability.
Public and institutional acceptance is an outcome of developing,
with approproiate public participation, a Preliminary Environmental
Impact Statement (PEIS) and action plan which effectively meets
the above objectives, in the context of public and institutional
understanding that the prime objective of disposing of excess
weapons plutonium is important and urgent. If this understanding
is not established, it will be most difficult to gain acceptance
of any PEIS or plan of action. This point was emphasized in the
first meeting and report of the Senior Technical Review Group.
It was suggested that two elements be added: (1) probability of
licensing, and (2) a distinct category to factor in Russian involvement.
Progress of Russian disposition is viewed as the most important
One element, additional benefits, should be deleted and
be replaced by other energy issues. As indicated in recommendation
(3) above, other energy issues should not be included as
an objective in the proposed analysis. These benefits are a spin-off
from achievement of the objectives proposed and should be notes
as an adjunct to the evaluation process. Some elements of such
spin-off could be negative as well as positive and should also
Changes in the titles of some objectives and measures are suggested.
For example, the descriptor "maximize" should be deleted;
the word optimize might be an appropriate modifier for some.
Additionally, it was suggested that certain objectives be retitled
as follows: the objective maximize cost effectiveness be
retitled cost, cooperation with Russia and others becomes
Coordinated U.S. and Russian program, and technical
viability becomes technical uncertainty.
Finally, it was pointed out that resistance to re-use is
an objective that is dependent upon the government in place.
there is an urgent need for early selection and implementation
of one or more disposition options, the process should incorporate
a mechanism for utilizing other options as new technologies evolve.
The most important considerations
with respect to U.S.-Russian management and disposition of plutonium
are materials protection and accounting, and the level of international
safeguards applied. At present, this is the primary focus of
U.S.-Russian negotiations rather than the actual disposal options.
Thus, the statement in the presentation "maximize cooperation
with Russia and others" should be revised. To simply recommend
cooperation masks the real nature of the problem and the conflicting
outlooks of the two entities. The primary tension between the
U.S. and Russia at this point in time appears to be possible to
ensure nonproliferation of nuclear weapons. Russia, on the other
hand, views plutonium as a resource that enables them to become
a world class nuclear provider, given some outside assistance.
Although it is imperative that both the U.S. and Russian disposal
be timely and that the stockpile of undisposed weapon-grade plutonium
remain about the same for both, it is not necessary that the same
disposition options be used. Because of the uncertainty inherent
in each disposal option, quantification could be misleading.
requirements should conform to existing federal standards and
practices and international standards where applicable. The DOE
approach of considering events with estimated probabilities of
10(-7) is not warranted, as this level exceeds established standards.
The Senior Technical Review Group
was informed that a Russian Studies Group was formed as a result
of a January 1995 meeting at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
U.S. and Russian delegates agreed to conduct joint scientific
and technical investigations in eight technical areas to support
reasonable alternatives for the long term disposition of plutonium
resulting from the Dismantlement of nuclear weapons. This historic
meeting, facilitated by the DOE Office of Fissile Materials Disposition,
was a result of the nonproliferation statement issued in Moscow
on 14 January 1994 by the Presidents of the United States and
the Russian Federation.
The conduct of the U.S. disposition program will have a major
impact on Russian action. It would be worthwhile to increase
the interactions between the technical and policy teams and order
to positively influence the rapidity, safety and efficiency of
the Russian disposition program. It is imperative that the Russian
effort proceed at a similar pace as that of the U.S. in order
that plutonium stock remain about the same for both.
Annotated List of Senior Technical Review Group Members
John F. Ahearns, Executive Director, Sigma Xi, The Scientific
Research Society, formerly vice president and senior fellow of
Resources for the Future, served as member of numerous committees,
boards and commissions related to nuclear energy including chairman
of the National Research Council Committee on the Future of Nuclear
Power Development and Committee on Risk Perception and Communication,
Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Floyd L. Culler, Jr., President Emeritus, Electric Power
Research Institute, member of the National Academy of Engineering,
Fellow of the American Institute of Chemists, American Nuclear
Society, and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, recipient
of numerous awards including E.O. Lawrence award and the Robert
E. Wilson award of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.
Paul M. Doty, Professor Emeritus, Department of Biochemistry
and Molecular biology and Director Emeritus, Center for Science
and International affairs, Harvard University, member of the National
Academy of Sciences, member of National Academy's Committee on
International Security and Arms Control.
E. Linn Draper, Jr., Chairman, President and Chief Executive
Officer of American Electric Power, is a member of the National
Academy of Engineering, and serves on the boards of the Nuclear
Energy Institute and the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations.
He Served on the faculty and administration of the University
of Texas where he was director of the Nuclear Engineering from
Shirley A. Fry, Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education
(ORISE), Physician/Epidemiologist, formerly Assistant Director,
Medical Sciences Division and Director of the Division's Center
for Epidemiological Research, ORISE; member of medical teaching
staff, Radiation Emergency Assistance Center/Training Site, ORISE;
member of national and international groups studying the acute
and long-term health effects of ionizing radiation.
Norman Hackerman, President Emeritus, Rice University,
Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Committee, Robert A. Welch
Foundation, member of the National Academy of Sciences. Recipient
of distinguished achievement awards from numerous scientific societies
and government bodies; most recently in 1993 received the National
Medal of Science and the Vannevear Bush Medal of The National
Richard T. Kennedy, Ambassador at large (retired), commissioned
as Ambassador at large and special advisor to the Secretary of
State on nonproliferation and nuclear energy policy (1982-92),
appointed Under Secretary of State (1981) and served as representative
to the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Myron B. Kratzer, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for
Nuclear Energy (retired), serves on the American Nuclear Society
special panel on ;plutonium, recipient of the Atomic Energy Commission's
Distinguished Service Medal. Chemical engineer who served the
Atomic Energy Commission from 1958-71, including Assistant General
Manager for International Activities.
John W. Landis, Chairman, Public Safety Standards Group,
member of the National Academy of Engineering, past-resident and
Fellow of the American Nuclear Society, Fellow of the American
Society of Mechanical Engineers, retired president of General
Atomics and Stone & Webster International recipient of DOE
Exceptional Public Service Award and numerous other awards, has
served on 27 government advisory committees.
I. Harry Mandil, President (retired), MPR Associates, Inc.,
in charge of reactor engineering under Admiral Rickhover, served
on former Secretary of Energy Watkins advisory committee. Engaged
in the development and application of nuclear power for naval
propulsion and electricity generating central stations for 45
years; recipient of Navy Department Meritorius and Distinguished
Civilian Service Awards and American Society of Mechanical Engineers
Prime Movers Award.
Lewis Manning Muntzing, Partner, Morgan, Lewis and Bockius,
Washington, D.C., Chairman of the International Nuclear Societies
Council, serves on the editorial advisory board of Progress in
Nuclear Energy International Review Journal, recipient in 1974
of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission's Arthur S. Fleming Distinguished
Service Award, past-president of the American Nuclear Society.
Paul Nelson, Professor of Computer Science, Nuclear Engineering
and Mathematics, Texas A&M University, editor of The Journal
of Transport Theory and Statistical Physics, past-chair of the
Mathematics and Computation Division of the American Nuclear Society.
Wolfgang Panofsky, Professor and Director Emeritus, Stanford
Linear Accelerator Center, member of the National Academy of Sciences,
member of the National Academy's Committee on International Security
and Arms Control and chair of the Weapons Plutonium Management
and Disposition Study Committee. Recipient of National medal
of Science and Lawrence and Fermi Awards of the Department of
Genevieve S. Roessler, Associate Professor Emeritus, University
of Florida, Fellow, past-president and past-editor of the Health
Physics Society, 1994 advisory committee chair for the Health
and Safety Research Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, also
served on scientific review committees for U.S. Department of
Energy (1984-88), and Rocky Flats (1980-82).
Glenn T. Seaborg, Chairman, Lawrence Hall of Science, received
Nobel prize for Chemistry in 1951 and was original chairman of
the Atomic Energy Commission, co-discoverer of over 16 elements
and isotopes including plutonium. Holds distinguished achievement
awards from numerous scientific societies and countries; most
recently received the National Medal of Science (U.S. 1991) and
the Royal Order of the Polar Star Sweden (1992).
John Taylor, Vice President (retired), Nuclear power Division,
Electric Power Research Institute, formerly Vice President and
General Manager of the Water Reactor Business Unit of Westinghouse
Electric Corporation, engaged in nuclear power development for
naval propulsion and electricity generation for 31 years, member
of the National Academy of Engineering, Fellow of the American
Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Nuclear
Kenneth L. Woodfin, Rear Admiral (retired), independent
Management and financial Consultant, expertise in the areas of
logistics, acquisition and financial management, senior business
assistant to Admiral Rickhover in the Naval Nuclear Power Program,
former assistant administrator of NASA,, and senior vice president
with Burns and Roe, international architectural engineers.
The proposed hierarchy of objectives and measures included in
the presentation titled, "A Methodology for the Analysis
and Selection of Alternatives for the Disposition of Surplus Plutonium"
are included on the following pages. These objectives and measures
were presented to the Senior Technical Review Group in Washington,
D.C. on 18 July 1995 by James S. Dyer, chair, Department of Management
Science and Information Systems, The University of Texas at Austin.
The Review Group's specific comments and suggestions regarding
these objectives and measures appear on pages 5-6 and 10-12 of