by Will Davis
This article is the fifth in a continuing series examining the delays in nuclear plant construction and increases in nuclear plant overall (project) cost during the large round of construction in the United States. Previous installments are linked at the end of this article.
“The Nuclear Industry 1973,” AEC publication WASH 1174-73, features the Clinch River Breeder Reactor project on its cover. At this time work was still seriously underway to shift the US nuclear fuel cycle to a closed or hybridized cycle instead of a “burn and store” open ended cycle – a goal that would never of course be realized.
The Atomic Energy Commission did not publish its standard annual report on the nuclear industry for the year 1972, but after broad request and clear demand did resume publication for two further years before finally cancelling it permanently. It is of interest to note the second paragraph of the Summary’s opening:
“As of December 31, 1973, there were 199 nuclear power plants operable, under construction, or contracted for in the United States.”
This was in spite of the fact that there had been a 17 month halt in what the AEC referred to as “major licensing actions”, ending in May 1972, as a result of litigation and negotiation following the Calvert Cliffs decision which was found to be legally binding to all nuclear plants not yet completed. The seriousness of this regulatory nightmare is summed up on page 90 of the present subject, WASH 1174-73:
“At the beginning of 1972 there were in the AEC regulatory pipeline some 65 applications for construction permits and operating licenses involving 97 nuclear power plant units with a total electric generating capacity of about 87,000,000 kilowatts. No full-power operating license or construction permit had been issued in approximately a year.
A principal factor in producing this
by Will Davis