A report by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) executive director said that the agency may not be able to finish a key nuclear safety study because of cuts in its research budget. The agency's total budget during 1986 was $401 million, with about one-fourth of it for research. The cuts total $81.6 million--$30.6 million in the current fiscal year and $51 million over the previous three fiscal years.
The NRC report says that a reassessment of the risk of serious accidents may not be completed satisfactorily and the commission will have only a limited ability to predict the outcome of equipment malfunctions at plants of the same design as Three Mile Island, (TMI) in Pennsylvania and to calculate the response of other reactors to breaks in the cooling water lines.
The report said that "Reductions in the safety research budget are expected to have intermediate and long-
term implications that will be detrimental to public health and safety," and added that the budget cuts may
end up costing the public more if safety problems lead to extended plant shutdowns.
--Peter Montague, Ph.D.
Descriptor terms: nrc; tmi; studies; nuclear power; risk assessment; public health; accidents; budget; financing; funding; safety;