Peak and Collapse 1974–76
Orders for LWRs in the United States reached a new peak in the first three-quarters of 1974. This reflected mainly the first impact of the Arab oil embargo and its effect on fossil-fuel prices. Other factors helped. The LWR was almost universally accepted as safe. Rasmussen, as it were, clinched this. Muntzing’s promise of a six-year or less lead time within three years1 was widely derided, but a reversal of the trend to longer lead times seemed possible. Plant makers had responded to the invitation to submit designs of standard plants. These would be subjected to a more than usually rigorous scrutiny, but when the regulators were satisfied with them they could be regarded by the utilities ordering them as reviewed for safety purposes — this seemed to offer significant savings. The scheme emphasised that plant development had reached greater maturity, and the introduction in summer 1972 of the BWR/6 by GE was symptomatic. Based on evolutionary modifications of components and systems, the central feature being a new core which gave a higher average with lower peak temperature and allowed a 20 per cent increase of output from a given size of pressure vessel with an additional safety margin, this was to provide the basis of a standardised plant which should take six months less to build, and offered a potential reduction in real costs of up to 20 per cent.2
KeywordsEnergy Crisis Nuclear Plant Nuclear Regulatory Commission Reactor Safety American Nuclear Society
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