WHAT WE DID NOT DO
It is just as
important for the reader to understand what the Commission did not do.
centered on one accident at one nuclear power plant in the United States. While
acting under the President's charge, we had to look at a large number of
issues affecting many different organizations; there are vast related
issues which were outside our charge, and which we could not possibly have
examined in a 6-month investigation.
We did not examine the
entire nuclear industry. (Although, through our investigation of the
Nuclear Regulatory Commission, we have at least some idea of the standards
being applied to it across the board.) We have not looked at the military
applications of nuclear energy. We did not consider nuclear weapons
proliferation. We have not dealt with the question of the disposal of
radioactive waste or the dangers of the accumulation of waste fuel within
nuclear power plants adjacent to the containment buildings. We made no
attempt to examine the entire fuel cycle, starting with the mining of
uranium. And, of course, we made no examination of the many other sources
of radiation, both natural and man-made, that affect all of us.
We have not attempted
to evaluate the relative risks involved in alternate sources of energy. We
are aware of a number of studies that try to do this. We are also aware
that some of these studies are subjects of continuing controversy.
We did not attempt to
reach a conclusion as to whether, as a matter of public policy, the
development of commercial nuclear power should be continued or should not
be continued. That would require a much broader investigation, involving
economic, environmental, and political considerations. We are aware that
there are 72 operating reactors in the United States with a
capacity of 52,000 megawatts of electric energy. An additional 92 plants
have received construction permits and are in various stages of
construction. If these are completed, they will roughly triple the present
nuclear capacity to generate electricity. This would be a significant
fraction of the total U.S. electrical generating capacity of some 600,000
megawatts. In addition, there are about 200 nuclear power plants in other
countries throughout the world.
improvement of the safety of existing and planned nuclear power plants is
a crucial issue. It is this issue that our report addresses, those changes
that can and must be made as a result of the accident -- the legacy of Three Mile