Some Implications of the Three Mile Island Accident for LMFBR Safety and Licensing

The Design Basis Issue

by Kenneth A. Solomon

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The 1979 accident at the Three Mile Island Unit-2 (TMI-2) nuclear generating plant prompted numerous studies identifying relevant safety issues and recommending both short term and long term fixes to improve the general safety of the light water reactor. One of the major safety issues which has evolved from the Action Plan of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Task Force investigations concerns the use of the design basis accident (DBA) in the licensing process. The DBA is an artificial "boundary" separating those "credible" accidents which are considered in the licensing process from those "incredible" ones which are not. While these recommendations focus on current light water reactors, they will also affect design and operation of the liquid metal fast breeder reactor (LMFBR). This Note assesses the impact of the TMI-2 on the safety of the LMFBR and arrives at specific design and policy recommendations.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Note series. The note was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1979 to 1993 that reported other outputs of sponsored research for general distribution.

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