Congressional Documents

DOE-Related Excerpts

NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION
ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 1998
CONFERENCE REPORT
to accompany
H.R. 1119

October 23, 1997
105th Congress 1st Session
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

Report 105-340



........... TITLE XIII--ARMS CONTROL AND RELATED MATTERS LEGISLATIVE PROVISIONS ADOPTED Advice to the President and Congress regarding the safety, security, and reliability of United States nuclear weapons stockpile (sec. 1305) The Senate amendment contained a provision (sec. 1084) that would extend to the directors of Department of Energy nuclear weapons laboratories, the Commander in Chief of the U.S. Strategic Command, and any member of the Joint Nuclear Weapons Council protection against adverse action by employees of the Federal Government in cases where those individuals gave advice or opinions to the President or Congress relating to a safety, security, or reliability issue with the nuclear weapons stockpile. The House bill contained no similar provision. The House recedes with an amendment that would modify section 3159(b) of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1997 (Public Law 104 201) to require that reports on problems with the nuclear weapons stockpile prepared by the directors of the nuclear weapons laboratories be submitted to the President, in addition to Congress, and to extend protection to the Department of Energy nuclear weapons production plant managers. Section 3159(b) would be modified to require the Department of Energy Assistant Secretary for Defense Programs to forward any such reports in their entirety, with any comments the Assistant Secretary deems appropriate, within ten days. The conferees note that the Congress has frequently expressed its view that the stewards of the nuclear weapons stockpile must freely give their best advice on the safety and reliability of the stockpile. The conferees note that earlier legislation has provided for reports on such advice. ................... DIVISION C--DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY NATIONAL SECURITY AUTHORIZATIONS AND OTHER AUTHORIZATIONS TITLE XXXI--DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY NATIONAL SECURITY PROGRAMS Overview The budget request for fiscal year 1998 contained an authorization of $13,597.6 million for the Defense Nuclear Activities. The House bill would authorize $10,951.9 million. The Senate amendment would authorize $11,204.4 million. The conferees recommended an authorization of $11,502.8 million. Unless noted explicitly in the statement of managers, all changes are made without prejudice. Offset Folios 1446 to 1465 Insert here LEGISLATIVE PROVISIONS ADOPTED SUBTITLE A--NATIONAL SECURITY PROGRAMS AUTHORIZATIONS Weapons activities (sec. 3101) The House bill contained a provision (sec. 3101) that would authorize $4.0 billion for the Department of Energy (DOE) weapons activities. The Senate amendment contained a similar provision (sec. 3101) that would authorize $4.0 billion for DOE weapons activities. The Senate recedes with an amendment that would authorize $4.1 billion for this account for the following activities: $1.9 billion for stockpile stewardship; $2.0 billion for stockpile management; and $250.0 million for program direction. The authorization includes a general reduction of $22.6 million. The conferees recommend a reduction of $53.5 million to the budget request for program direction. The conferees note that recent independent assessments from the Institute for Defense Analysis and the General Accounting Office have identified a number of recommendations regarding how best to streamline the management structure within the Office of Defense Programs. The conferees believe that implementing such recommendations would reduce management costs and increase the effectiveness of the Department's weapons programs. The budget request included $15.7 million for the incremental component of the construction upgrades at the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Because of cost overruns and pending the outcome of the Department's ongoing review into this project, the conferees recommend $5.0 million for this activity. The conferees adopt this position, without prejudice. The conferees recommend $217.0 million, the amount requested, for the inertial confinement fusion operating program. Within the total amount authorized for this activity, the conferees recommend that $26.1 million be made available for the University of Rochester's Laboratory for Laser Energetics, an increase of $2.5 million. The conferees recommend an additional $10.0 million for a surety program to improve waste minimization efforts related to the Department's stockpile management program and an additional $8.0 million to continue tritium facility upgrades initiated in fiscal year 1997 at the Savannah River Site. .......... Environmental restoration and waste management (sec. 3102) The House bill contained a provision (sec. 3102) that would authorize $5.3 billion for Department of Energy (DOE) environmental restoration and waste management activities. The Senate amendment contained a similar provision (sec. 3102) that would authorize $5.1 billion for DOE environmental restoration and waste management activities. The Senate amendment authorized $274.7 million for Defense Environmental Management Privatization projects in a separate provision. The Senate recedes with an amendment that would authorize $5.5 billion for Environmental Management activities, including: $1.0 billion for environmental restoration; $1.6 billion for waste management; $220.0 million for technology development; $1.3 billion for nuclear material and facility stabilization; $20.0 million for policy and management; $55.0 million for the Environmental Management science program; $875.0 million for closure projects; $345.8 million for program direction; and $224.7 million for defense Environmental Management privatization. The authorization includes a general reduction of $50.0 million. The conferees recommend an additional $10.0 million for environmental restoration. Of this increase, the conferees recommend an additional $5.0 million to accelerate closure of the Hanford 100 Area in Richland, Washington. The conferees recommend an additional $35.3 million for waste management. Of the funds available for waste management, the conferees recommend an additional $12.0 million for the Savannah River site to increase production at the Defense Waste Processing Facility (DWPF) and $8.2 million to support high-level waste research and development work at the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory. The conferees direct the Department to make available an additional $25.0 million to allow the consolidated incineration facility to operate at full capacity, as originally intended, to assure that the DWPF operates at its designed capacity, and that the site has sufficient funds to accelerate the disposal of transuranic waste. The conferees urge the Department to assess the cost savings that may be available if it is able to develop a successful spent fuel or high level waste storage cask system using high density concrete. Of the waste management funds authorized in section 3102 of this title, no more than $3.0 million may be made available for this demonstration project. The conferees recommend an increase of $58.0 million to nuclear material and facility stabilization to be allocated as follows: $47.0 million for nuclear material stabilization operations at the F- and H-canyon facilities and $11.0 million for the National Spent Fuel Program. The conferees recommend $220.0 million for technology development, a $37.9 million reduction. This reduction reflects the Department's proposed reduction to the Technology Deployment Initiative and greater cost-sharing with technology user organizations within the Department. The conferees are supportive of the Office of Science and Technology's efforts to move technologies from the late stages of research and development into use. The conferees believe that Environmental Management line organizations should place a greater emphasis on innovative technical approaches when executing records of decision, meeting tri-party agreement milestones, or selecting clean up and waste management approaches. The Department has a poor record in deploying DOE-developed cleanup and waste management technologies. The conferees believe that senior management attention will be required if the Department is to benefit from those technologies that have already been developed by the Department, but have not been applied at DOE facilities. The conferees recommend $55.0 million for the Environmental Management science program, an increase of $5.0 million. The conferees recommend $20.0 million for the Office of Policy, a $3.1 million reduction. The conferees recommend $345.8 million for program direction, a $42.5 million reduction. The conferees recommend $875.0 million for the project closure account, an increase of $860.0 million. The increase to this account has been derived from the following sources: a transfer of $743.6 million from environmental restoration, a transfer of $45.2 million from the operations and maintenance account within the stockpile management program, and an additional $71.2 million. The conferees recommend allocating closure project account funds as follows: $648.4 million for the Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site and $226.6 million for the Fernald Environmental Management Project. The conferees strongly support the efforts of the adjacent communities to close these two sites within the next ten years. The transfer of $45.2 million from stockpile management represents the costs associated with the provision of security at the Rocky Flats Site and the Fernald Site. The conferees are aware that this transfer of funds will also require the Office of Environmental Management to accept custodial responsibility of weapons grade special nuclear material, which constitutes a change in current practice. Other defense activities (sec. 3103) The budget request included $1.606 billion for Other Defense Activities of the Department of Energy (DOE) for fiscal year 1998. The House bill contained a provision (sec. 3103) that would authorize $1.5 billion for Other Defense Activities, a reduction of $93.4 million to the budget request. The Senate amendment contained a provision (sec. 3103) that would authorize $1.6 billion for Other Defense Activities, an increase of $28.0 million to the budget request. The conferees agree to a provision that would authorize $1.636 billion for Other Defense Activities. Verification and control technology The conferees agree to authorize $478.2 million for verification and control technology. The conferees are concerned by recent reports that a substantial portion of the aid intended for Russian scientists under the Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention (IPP) program is being siphoned off by duties, regional taxes, overhead charges and other assessments by Russian entities. The conferees direct the Secretary of Energy to report to the Congress by March 31, 1998 on the impact of these charges on the program and to provide detailed recommendations on how these problems can be corrected. To close gaps identified in DOE's nuclear smuggling program, the conferees agree to provide $16.0 million for nuclear smuggling activities, a $3.0 million increase, from funds available in verification and control technology, to enhance further and accelerate the Department's nuclear forensic analytical capability. The conferees have been supportive of efforts by the Department of Defense (DOD) and DOE to respond to any domestic terrorist use of weapons of mass destruction. From the funds authorized for verification and control technology, $2.0 million is available for training and related activities to prepare federal, state, and local first responders to work effectively as part of the domestic emergency response program. The conferees understand that nuclear training curriculum for local first responders has been prepared by the DOE defense programs, and that this program is coordinated with the DOD, the agency responsible for preparing the chemical and biological training and exercise programs. In order to maximize the number of participants in the exercises, and to take advantage of cost savings, the conferees recommend that DOE continue to coordinate the activities of its exercises with the executive agent and program manager for the DOD domestic emergency preparedness program in order to integrate mixed scenarios of chemical, biological and nuclear incidents in the exercises. The Secretary of Energy was directed in the statement of managers accompanying the conference report for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1997 (Public Law 102 201) to provide an annual evaluation to the Congress of the expected powers and expected limits that define the extent to which science and technology can aid the nonproliferation effort. The conferees direct the Secretary to submit the first annual report on February 1, 1998. The conferees continue to believe that advances in science and technology will improve the ability to detect the presence, transportation, and use of weapons of mass destruction. The ability of such advanced technologies to be developed and used may, however, be impeded or otherwise affected by regional powers and interests. The evaluation to be conducted should include an analysis of regional and local situations, requirements, and power structures that can either aid or deter deployment of new technology for nonproliferation efforts. International nuclear safety The conferees agree to provide $47.0 million for nuclear energy, including $35.0 million for international nuclear safety activities. The conferees were recently notified that the DOE fiscal year 1999 funding for these activities will not be included in DOE national security programs. The conferees appreciate the administration's intent to comply with congressional guidance and to seek funding for these activities from sources other than the defense accounts. Naval reactors The conferees recommend an increase of $44.5 million to the budget request for naval reactors to expedite decommissioning and decontamination activities at surplus training facilities. The conferees consider the naval reactors program to be a critical defense activity. The conferees are concerned that the DOE has demonstrated a pattern of consistently underestimating funding requirements for this program in budget requests. The conferees strongly encourage the Department to request adequate funding for this program in future fiscal year budget requests to allow this program to accomplish the stated objectives in an efficient manner. Declassification productivity initiative The conferees continue to support the Declassification Productivity Initiative. The conferees are concerned that the Department of Energy lacks both the appropriate technical personnel and integrating components required to carry out successfully this program. Recognizing the complexities surrounding the development of a computer-aided system to improve the efficiency and security of the declassification process, the conferees are concerned that the limited funds provided to this program are being allocated among numerous laboratories, universities, and industry without clear technical direction or coordination by the Department. The conferees direct the Director of the Office of Declassification to begin to develop a management and integration strategy to coordinate and streamline the various initiatives carried out within the Declassification Productivity Initiative. In addition, the conferees strongly discourage any shifting of funds from the Declassification Productivity Initiative to other declassification activities. ........... SUBTITLE C--PROGRAM AUTHORIZATIONS, RESTRICTIONS, AND LIMITATIONS ........... International cooperative stockpile stewardship programs (sec. 3133) The Senate amendment contained a provision (sec. 3132) that would prohibit the Department of Energy (DOE) from pursuing cooperative stockpile stewardship and management activities with certain nations. The House bill contained no similar provision. The House recedes. The conferees remain concerned that initiation of an ongoing international cooperative stockpile stewardship and management program could have unintended detrimental effects on U.S. national security interests. This provision would extend for one year the prohibition established by section 3138 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1997. The intent of this provision is to prohibit establishment of a permanent program of international cooperative stockpile stewardship, with an exception for activities that might be undertaken with the United Kingdom and France. The provision would not apply to activities carried out by DOE under cooperative threat reduction programs with nations of the former Soviet Union, or to the Department of Energy materials protection, control, and accounting or the initiatives for proliferation prevention programs. The prohibition would apply to all other DOE activities, including but not limited to laboratory directed research and development funds. The conferees do not intend this prohibition to prevent the President's ability to respond to developments which might threaten the national security of the United States. The conferees believe that the President has sufficient flexibility to address such specific incidents should they arise and the provision would not prohibit such action. Modernization of enduring nuclear weapons complex (sec. 3134) The House bill contained a provision (sec. 3101) that would provide an increase of $85.0 million for the Department of Energy's (DOE) stockpile management program to be used for weapons production plants infrastructure upgrades and the Stockpile Life Extension, Enhanced Surveillance, and Advanced Development Programs carried out at DOE production plants. The Senate amendment contained a provision (sec. 3133) that would provide an additional $15.0 million to support modernization efforts being carried out at the Department of Energy's four nuclear weapons production plants (Pantex, Kansas City, Y 12, and Savannah River). The provision would require the Department to submit, not later than 30 days after enactment of this provision, a report describing the Department's plans to allocate the funds authorized by this section and the relevance of each allocation to implementing the decisions in the Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for Stockpile Stewardship and Management. The funds authorized for this activity could not be obligated until 30 days after the congressional defense committees receive the Department's proposed allocation report as required by this provision. The House recedes with an amendment that would increase funding for the stockpile management account to provide an additional $85.0 million for these activities. The conferees direct that the funds be allocated as follows: $25.0 million for the Pantex Plant for basic infrastructure needs including roof repair, electric power service upgrades, steam and condensate piping upgrades, fire enunciation systems, and Enhanced Surveillance Program activities; $25.0 million for the Kansas City Plant for basic infrastructure needs including roof repair, installation of advanced manufacturing equipment, and Advanced Manufacturing Program activities; and $35.0 million for the Y 12 plant for basic infrastructure needs, W 87 work load requirements, Advanced Manufacturing Program activities, and Stockpile Life Extension Program activities. Of the amounts made available by this provision, not more than five percent shall be allocated collectively to management overhead, program direction, and technical budgetary, accounting, and other analytical support to the DOE. The remainder shall be expended by the four production plants exclusively for the programs described. The conferees concur with the Department's goal to implement advanced manufacturing technology at DOE plants and laboratories to improve production efficiencies and maintain core competencies within the DOE nuclear weapons production complex. The conferees understand that such modernization upgrades will require coordination among the four production plants and the three design laboratories. The conferees remain concerned with the Department's plans to maintain the capability and capacity to refurbish and, when necessary, remanufacture nuclear weapons components in the Nation's nuclear weapons stockpile. The committee is concerned that the Department may be overly relying on new, ``science-based'' stockpile stewardship and management approaches at the risk of losing manufacturing capabilities and expertise. The conferees are deeply troubled that the Department has failed to meet fully the intent of section 3137 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1996 and section 3132 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1997 calling for modernization of the four nuclear weapons production plants. The conferees believe that the Department did not fully meet the requirements or intent of these sections and related guidance provided in conference reports accompanying these Acts and the 1996 and 1997 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Acts. The conferees note that the General Accounting Office has identified certain Nuclear Weapons Stockpile Memorandum requirements that may not be met by the Department due to insufficient resources being allocated to the four traditional production plants. The conferees believe that the manufacturing facilities must be modernized as directed in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1996 and the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1997, or these problems will continue. Tritium production (sec. 3135) The Senate amendment contained a provision (sec. 3134) that would make available $262.0 million for the Department of Energy (DOE) tritium production program. The provision would require DOE to select a tritium production technology not later than June 30, 1998. The provision would also prohibit the Department from obligating funds appropriated or otherwise made available pursuant to this Act for exploration of any tritium production technology option, other than those being examined under the Department's ``dual track'' approach, until July 30, 1998, or 30 days after such time that the Department selects a preferred technology option, whichever comes later. The provision would also require the Secretary of Energy to submit a report describing for each technology option any regulatory barriers, licensing difficulties, potential for production rate variability, scientific benefits, revenue generation and other ancillary benefits. The House bill contained no similar provision. The House recedes with an amendment that would require the Department of Energy to select a tritium production technology not later than December 31, 1998. The conferees continue to believe that the Department can move faster to select a preferred technology option and acquire a permanent new tritium production source capable of meeting the requirements of the Nuclear Weapons Stockpile Memorandum, which identifies a new tritium production date in the year 2005 in the case a reactor option is selected and 2007 if an accelerator option is selected. While the conferees recognize that future tritium requirements could change if the United States enters into treaties that reduce the numbers of strategic and tactical nuclear weapons, the production capacity that the United States will need to maintain at START I and START II levels will remain essentially constant. Processing, treatment, and disposition of spent nuclear fuel rods and other legacy nuclear materials at the Savannah River Site (sec. 3136) The Senate amendment contained a provision (sec. 3135) that would make available an additional $47.0 million above the budget request for the F-canyon and H-canyon facilities to accelerate the stabilization of legacy materials at the Savannah River Site. The provision would further require that the Secretary of Energy maintain a high state of readiness of the F-canyon and H-canyon facilities. The House bill contained no similar provision. The House recedes. The conferees note that the House bill recommended $41.0 million for similar activities. Limitations on use of funds for laboratory directed research and development purposes (sec. 3137) The Senate amendment contained a provision (sec. 3136) that would modify section 3136 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1997 by requiring the annual report on uses of Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) funds be provided to the congressional defense committees not later than February 1 of each year. The provision would also prohibit the Department of Energy (DOE) from obligating more than 30 percent of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available to the DOE in fiscal year 1998 for LDRD programs until the Department submits the annual report for fiscal year 1997. The provision would limit the use of funds appropriated or otherwise made available to the DOE under section 3101 of this Act to LDRD and technology transfer activities that support the weapons activities of the Department. The provision would similarly limit use of funds appropriated or otherwise made available to the DOE under section 3102 of this Act to those activities that support the environmental restoration, waste management, or materials stabilization activities of the Department. The provision would require the Department to include in the fiscal year 1998 annual report an assessment of the funding required to carry out an effective LDRD program, including any recommendations for the percentage of funds that should be provided to the National Laboratories for LDRD activities by the Federal Government. The House bill contained no similar provision. The House recedes. The conferees recognize that programs such as LDRD are essential to maintaining the core competencies of the National Laboratories. The conferees will assess the Department's recommendations regarding the appropriate percentage of funds to be provided to this program in conjunction with any existing or future restrictions that might be considered for this program. ........... Limitation on use of funds for subcritical nuclear weapons tests (sec. 3140) The House bill contained a provision (sec. 3146) that would require the submission of a detailed report on the manner in which funds available to the Secretary of Energy for fiscal years 1996 and 1997 to conduct subcritical experiments were used. The provision would prohibit the Secretary from using any funds authorized in fiscal year 1998 to conduct subcritical experiments until 30 days after receipt of such report. The Senate amendment contained no similar provision. The Senate recedes with an amendment that would allow the Secretary to conduct subcritical experiments prior to submittal of the report, if the Secretary determines that it is in the national security interests of the United States to do so. While the conferees strongly support these tests, they are concerned that over $100.0 million has apparently been spent with only two tests completed. ........... SUBTITLE D--OTHER MATTERS Plan for stewardship, management, and certification of warheads in the nuclear weapons stockpile (sec. 3151) The House bill contained a provision (sec. 3141) that would require the Secretary of Energy to report annually on the Department of Energy (DOE) plan for the Stockpile Stewardship and Management Program. The report would describe the status and condition of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile, based on the requirements set forth in the Nuclear Weapons Stockpile Memorandum. This report would be submitted in both a classified and unclassified form and would be provided in lieu of a number of other reporting requirements which have been superseded and would be repealed by this section. The Senate amendment contained a similar provision (sec. 3153). The Senate recedes with an amendment that would consolidate the repeal of obsolete reporting requirements in a separate section in Title XXXI of this Act. ........... Plan for external oversight of national laboratories (sec. 3154) The House bill contained a provision (sec. 3148) that would require the Secretary of Energy to develop a plan for the external oversight of the national laboratories. The plan would provide for the establishment of an external oversight committee comprised of representatives of industry and academia for the purpose of making recommendations to the Secretary of Energy and to the congressional defense committees on the productivity of the laboratories and on the excellence, relevance, and appropriateness of the research conducted at the laboratories. The plan also would provide for the establishment of a competitive peer review process for funding basic research at the laboratories. The Senate amendment contained no similar provision. The Senate recedes with an amendment that would require the Secretary to prepare a report on existing and potential new external oversight practices at the national laboratories. The report would be due not later than July 1, 1999, and would include any recommendations from the Secretary and a plan to implement such recommendations. University-based research collaboration program (sec. 3155) The House bill contained a provision (sec. 3149) that would require the Secretary of Energy to establish a university-based research center to coordinate the collaboration among national laboratories, universities and industry in support of scientific and engineering advancement in key Department of Energy defense program areas. The Senate amendment contained no similar provision. The Senate recedes with an amendment that would require the Secretary to establish a university-based collaborative program to coordinate national laboratory, university, and industry cooperation in support of scientific and engineering advancement in key Department of Energy defense program areas. Stockpile stewardship program (sec. 3156) The House bill contained a provision (sec. 3150) that would provide that, as a matter of U.S. policy, the Department of Energy stockpile stewardship program shall be conducted in conformity with the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, if and when that treaty enters into force. The provision would also state that it is the policy of the United States to conduct a stockpile stewardship and management program to ensure the safety, security, effectiveness, and reliability of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile, consistent with U.S. national security requirements. The Senate amendment contained no similar provision. The Senate recedes with a clarifying amendment. Reports on advanced supercomputer sales to certain foreign nations (sec. 3157) The House bill contained a provision (sec. 3151) that would require companies that participate in the Department of Energy Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative (ACSI) program to report to the Secretary of Energy and the Secretary of Defense, on a quarterly basis, the sale of each computer that exceeds an operating speed of 2,000 million theoretical operations per seconds (MTOPs) in which a Tier III country is the purchaser. The provision would require the Secretary of Energy to provide an annual report to Congress on the sales of computers in excess of 2,000 MTOPs by companies participating in the ACSI program the preceding year. The Senate amendment contained no similar provision. The Senate recedes. ........... Board on security functions of Department of Energy (sec. 3161) The Senate amendment contained a provision (sec. 3156) that would establish a commission to review the sufficiency of Department of Energy (DOE) nuclear weapons and materials safeguards and security programs. This commission would review threat determinations and assumptions, relevant DOE orders, and other requirements governing safeguards and security of nuclear weapons, weapons components, nuclear materials, and sensitive nuclear weapons information at DOE facilities. The commission would report its findings and any recommendations to the Secretary of Energy and congressional defense committees not later than February 15, 1998. The House bill contained no similar provision. The House recedes with an amendment that would create a permanent Department of Energy Safeguards and Security Oversight Board to review and assess the DOE safeguards and security program. The Board would be comprised of the DOE Secretary, Assistant Secretary for Defense Programs, Assistant Secretary of Environment, Safety and Health, Director of Non-proliferation and National Security, Director of Field Management, and five additional members, who are not employees of the Department of Energy or its contractors, to be appointed as follows: three by the Secretary of Defense, one by the Director of Central Intelligence, and one by the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Submittal of annual report on status of security functions at nuclear weapons facilities (sec. 3162) The Senate amendment contained a provision (sec. 3156) that would establish a commission to review the sufficiency of Department of Energy nuclear weapons and materials safeguards and security programs. The provision would require the commission to report annually to the Congress on its activities and findings. The House bill contained no similar provision. The conferees agree to include a new provision that would direct the Secretary of Energy to submit to the congressional defense committees the annual report to the President on the Status of Safeguards and Security of Domestic Nuclear Weapons Facilities. For fiscal years 1998 through 2000, the Secretary would include with the annual report any comments from individual members of the Department of Energy Safeguards and Security Oversight Board. Modification of authority on commission on maintaining United States nuclear weapons expertise (sec. 3163) The Senate amendment contained a provision (sec. 3157) that would extend by one year the due date for the report to be prepared by the Commission on Maintaining United States Nuclear Weapons Expertise. The provision would amend section 3162 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1997, which established the Commission. The provision would permit the Senate Majority Leader to designate a chairman of the Commission, after consultation with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, upon appointment of the fifth member of the Commission. The provision would allow the Commission to begin its work when a chairman is appointed. The provision would also extend the due date for the Commission's report from March 15, 1998 to March 15, 1999. The House bill contained no similar provision. The House recedes with an amendment that would permit the Majority Leader of the Senate to appoint a chairman after January 1, 1998. ........... Sense of Congress regarding the Y 12 Plant in Oak Ridge, Tennessee (sec. 3166) The Senate amendment contained a provision (sec. 3161) that would designate the Department of Energy Y 12 plant in Oak Ridge, Tennessee as the National Prototype Center. The House bill contained no similar provision. The House recedes with an amendment that would express a sense of Congress that the Y 12 plant should serve as a national prototype center. ........... LEGISLATIVE PROVISIONS NOT ADOPTED Report on proposed contract for Hanford tank waste vitrification project The House bill contained a provision (sec. 3145) that would require prior notice to the congressional defense committees before entering into a contract for the Hanford tank waste vitrification project. The provision would also require the submission of a detailed report describing the activities to be carried out under the contract, the contractual and financial aspects of the contract, and an analysis of the cost to the United States of the proposed contract over the life of the project. The Senate amendment contained no similar provision. The House recedes. The conferees agree to include the substance of this provision in another section in Title XXXI of this Act dealing with defense environmental management privatization projects. Tritium production in commercial facilities The Senate amendment contained a provision (sec. 3139) that would amend section 91 of the Atomic Energy Act (AEA) to authorize the Secretary of Energy to produce tritium for defense-related purposes in a commercial nuclear power reactor. The House bill contained no similar provision. The Senate recedes. Tritium gas, an isotope of hydrogen, is an essential ingredient in all modern nuclear weapons. Tritium has a radioactive half life of 12.3 years, and decays at a rate of five percent per year. As a result, the tritium in weapons in the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile must be replaced periodically. Based on current projections of the size of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile, recycling tritium from weapons eliminated from the stockpile cannot fulfill this requirement. In December 1995, the Department of Energy announced its dual-track strategy for new tritium production. Utilizing the dual-track strategy since that time, the Department has been pursuing the two most promising tritium production technologies: (1) the purchase of an operating or partially complete commercial light-water reactor, or lease of a completed reactor, or the purchase of irradiation services from the owner or operator of such a reactor; and (2) the design, construction, and testing of critical components of a proton accelerator system for the production of tritium. The dual-track strategy will enable the Department to select a primary option for tritium production by December 1998, consistent with current Department of Defense and nuclear weapons stockpile requirements, policy, and life-cycle cost budgetary considerations. The option not selected would serve as a backup capability in the event of technical or other difficulties. Over the last 19 months, DOE has gained increased confidence in the abilities of both options to produce an assured supply of tritium. The accelerator program has made significant advances through the use of superconducting and other design concepts to reduce the cost and technical risks that have been identified in conjunction with the accelerator. The commercial light water reactor program has also made significant progress in designing and producing tritium target rods. In the fall of 1997, DOE will place these tritium target rods in a commercial reactor in an effort to demonstrate the safety and reliability of tritium production in a light water reactor. Each track has additional uncertainties that must be addressed and answered to enable the Department to make its primary tritium production decision by December 1998. The conferees agreed to withdraw the proposed amendment to the AEA in order to allow a full and robust debate on the policy and legal implications of producing tritium for nuclear weapons in a commercial nuclear facility. While questions exist as to whether or not current law prohibits production of tritium in a commercial facility, and because concerns have been raised regarding the effect that a decision to produce tritium in this manner would have on U.S. non-proliferation strategy, the conferees believe the policy, legal, and regulatory issues that have been raised must be addressed in a comprehensive manner prior to passage of any amendments to facilitate such a choice. The commercial reactor track contains many sub-options for tritium production. As a practical matter, each of the different reactor sub-options has different legal and policy issues associated with it. The conferees believe that it would be helpful to the effort to secure necessary legislative changes if DOE could identify the preferred commercial reactor sub-option in advance of the final tritium production technology decision, preferably by March 1, 1998. The conferees believe that it is essential for DOE to identify and assess any policy issues associated with the various reactor sub-options in conjunction with other federal agencies including the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Department of Defense, and the Department of State arms control offices. The conferees direct the Secretary of Energy to utilize a senior level, interagency process to review and assess the issues associated with the commercial reactor option. This assessment should be completed before DOE identifies a preferred reactor sub-option. The conferees request the DOE propose to the Committee on Armed Services of the Senate and the Committee on National Security of the House of Representatives, by March 15, 1998, any legislation necessary to resolve the issues associated with either of the dual-track production technologies. This would allow the legislation to be in place in advance of the DOE's final decision in December 1998. The conferees expect the Secretary of Energy to include full funding to continue to evaluate each tritium production technology in the dual-track strategy. The conferees will continue to work closely with DOE to gain the knowledge necessary to address and resolve issues associated with the dual-track tritium production technologies in order to allow the Department to select the tritium production option that best meets U.S. policy, national security and budgetary requirements. ....... TTITLE XXXII--DEFENSE NUCLEAR FACILITIES SAFETY BOARD Overview The budget request for fiscal year 1998 contained an authorization of $17.5 million for the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board. The House bill would authorize $17.5 million. The Senate amendment would authorize $17.5 million. The conferees recommended an authorization of $17.5 million. Unless noted explicitly in the statement of managers, all changes are made without prejudice. LEGISLATIVE PROVISIONS ADOPTED Report on external regulation of defense nuclear facilities (sec. 3202) The House bill contained a provision (sec. 3202) that would require the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB) to develop a plan, in consultation with the Secretary of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), for the transfer of DNSFB's functions to the NRC. The Senate amendment contained no similar provision. The Senate recedes with an amendment that would require the Board to submit a report recommending which facilities should be retained under the jurisdiction of the Board and which facilities should be transferred to an external regulatory agency; require the Board to assess regulatory requirements and jurisdictional issues surrounding the defense environmental management privatization initiative and the proposed commercial light water reactor option for tritium production; remove the repeal of section 210 of the Department of Energy National Security and Military Applications of Nuclear Energy Authorization Act of 1981 (42 U.S.C. 7272); and require the Board to submit an interim report within 6 months of the date of enactment of this section and a final report within 12 months.