National Academies Press: OpenBook

Powering the U.S. Army of the Future (2021)

Chapter: Appendix M: Nuclear Power Safety/Regulatory Considerations

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Suggested Citation:"Appendix M: Nuclear Power Safety/Regulatory Considerations." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Powering the U.S. Army of the Future. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26052.
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Page 147
Suggested Citation:"Appendix M: Nuclear Power Safety/Regulatory Considerations." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Powering the U.S. Army of the Future. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26052.
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Page 148

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M Nuclear Power Safety/Regulatory Considerations Perhaps the most daunting aspects of nuclear power for Army bases are the policy and regulatory aspects of this endeavor. Commercial nuclear power is highly regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for good reason, as the handling of nuclear material and operation of nuclear reactors has unique and challenging safety and security aspects. This section summarizes the approach to regulatory policies and procedures taken by two key departments: the Department of Energy and of the Navy. These two departments jointly operate the Naval Reactors program (NR, or just the program) to provide naval nuclear propulsion. We suggest that this model is well worth following for the Department of the Army as it develops a nuclear power program. 1 The Department of Energy has the authority to regulate its nuclear facilities as does the Department of the Navy. Given the joint nature of the NR program, a means was needed to fulfill requirements of both departments without undue bureaucracy. The Director of NR (a four-star appointment), therefore, is a joint appointment in both departments with the discretion to apply DOE policies in a flexible manner. Indeed, the Director has typically adopted policies and procedures consistent with the best NRC requirements while meeting DOE requirements. Note that the Director reports to the Chief of Naval Operations and has full access to the Secretary of Energy. It makes sense to have a similar program structure and safety/security approach for an Army program. Much of the development and procurement of the reactors could be done by DOE, and the Army should strongly resist developing new policies and procedures for their program. The exception is to take into account the advanced nature of the anticipated Army reactor design and appropriate relaxation of requirements is recommended with heavy peer review. The design basis threat for an Army reactor outside of the United States is quite different than the threats faced by naval reactors, surface or submarine. The design must by capable of safe operation under some types of attack (e.g., terrorist), despite not being deployed to front-line installations. Hence, the safety basis for the reactor needs to include the effects of small-scale explosions and small arms fire. TRAINING Once again following the Navy model, the Navy employs both enlisted personal and officers with specific nuclear power training. The officer career tracks include: • Naval Reactors Engineer – training results in post-graduate level nuclear engineering. These engineers work for naval reactors and may have assignments throughout the program, including on-ship. • Surface Warfare Officer (Nuclear) – includes post-graduate training and substantial surface- combatant tours • Nuclear submarine Officer – similar to Surface Warfare Officer but for submarines. 1 The diplomatic aspects of deploying nuclear reactors abroad should not be overlooked. Other countries’ laws and sensitivities are not the same as those in the US. PREPUBLICATION COPY – SUBJECT TO FURTHER EDITORIAL CORRECTION M-1

The latter two officer tracks do not participate in running the NR program and facilities. The enlisted career tracks include: Enlisted Nuclear Machinist’s Mates, Electrician’s Mates, and Electronics Technicians. For Army deployments of the envisioned simple-to-run, inherently safe reactor, the Navy enterprise is more elaborate than needed, but nevertheless provides a useful model. It would be important to have both officers with nuclear training and enlisted personnel with key technical skills and a working knowledge of nuclear reactor operations and theory. Training courses for Navy enlisted personnel include, post basic training, 3-6 months of general technical training, 6 months weeks of specific nuclear power training, and 6 months working with a real reactor on land. Officers undergo similar training with similar time scales. It is hard to envision significantly less training needed for Army nuclear officers and enlisted, although with fewer occupations, particularly for officers. The Army would want to have similar capabilities to train individuals on real reactor hardware and a real operating reactor. These are non-trivial facilities to develop, perhaps in conjunction with the DOE, and should be part of the program planning after initial feasibility is determined. PREPUBLICATION COPY – SUBJECT TO FURTHER EDITORIAL CORRECTION M-2

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At the request of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Technology, Powering the U.S. Army of the Future examines the U.S. Army's future power requirements for sustaining a multi-domain operational conflict and considers to what extent emerging power generation and transmission technologies can achieve the Army's operational power requirements in 2035. The study was based on one operational usage case identified by the Army as part of its ongoing efforts in multi-domain operations. The recommendations contained in this report are meant to help inform the Army's investment priorities in technologies to help ensure that the power requirements of the Army's future capability needs are achieved.

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