Reviews of Modern Physics

Report to the American Physical Society by the study group on light-water reactor safety

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The issue of light-water reactor (LWR) safety has been the subject of a part-time, year-long study sponsored by the American Physical Society. The goal of the study was the assessment of some of the technical aspects of the safety of large light-water nuclear power reactors typical of present commercial practice in the Unted States. The report examines issues related to safe operation of LWRs; the research and development program responsible for establishing and enhancing safety; and the consequences of accidents for public health and welfare. The report in no way deals with the need for nuclear power or its benefits, and should not be considered as a net assessment of the risks versus the benefits of nuclear reactors. Since the risks of ecological impacts of other energy technologies are not addressed, no recommendations are made concerning the specific reactor program which should be followed in the immediate future. Among the areas covered in the report are primary pressure-vessel integrity; quality assurance; accident initiation from operator error, transients, and sabotage; the adequacy of present emergency core-cooling system designs; the calculation of long-term consequences to health of one particular low-probability accidental release of radioactivity; and the experimental and calculational (computer-code-development) aspects of the present reactor safety research program. A number of recommendations are contained with the report, mainly addressed to ways in which the safety of the present LWRs can be improved or better understood. © 1975 The American Physical Society.