oversight

Need for Increased Management Attention to Certain Laboratory Operating Practices in the Nuclear Weapons Testing Program

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1971-09-17.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

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Need For Increased Management
Attention To Certain Laboratory
Operating Practices In The
Nuclear Weapons Testing Program
        I                    *                 B-165546



Atomic   Energy Commission




UNITED STATES
GENERAL ACCOUNTING            OFFICE


                             SEPT.17J971
                                            UNITED     STATESGENERAL
                                                                   ACCOUNTING               OFFICE
                                                        WASHINGTON,      D.C.    20548



CIVIL            DIVISION




                         B-165546



                         Dear     Dr.   Schlesinger:         -

                                  This is our report   on the need for increased                management    atten-
                     /   tion by the Atomic     Energy   Commission    to certain              laboratory  operating        ‘is‘1“;
                         practices    in the nuclear   weapons testing   program.

                                 We wish to call your attention            to our recommendations            and the ac-
                         tions agreed to by the Commission                staff as discussed        in chapter     4 of the
                         report.    Your    attention     is also  invited    to  section   236   of  the  Legislative
                         Reorganization       Act of 1970 which requires            that you submit written            state-
                         ments of the action taken with respect                to our recommendations.              The
                         statements     are to be sent to the House and Senate Committees                       on Gov- ? : It.3 *
                         ernment     Operations       not later than 60 days after the date of this report
                         and to the House and Senate Committees                   on Appropriations        in connec-         L ::.:
                         tion with the first      request     for appropriations        submitted      by your agency
                         more than 60 days after the date of this report.                   Copies of this report
                         are being sent to these Committees.

                                Copies of this report            are also being sent to the Director,   Office
        r                of Management    and Budget;            and to the Chairman,   Joint Committee      on           -J8.‘7I ) i. ;:
                ‘,
            J            Atomic  Energy.
                                                                                                                 1
                                                                                Sincerely    yours,

            ”            7,
                         y      1%.
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        /
                                                                                Director,    Civil    Division

                         The Honorable    James R. Schlesinger
                         Chairman,   Atomic   Energy Commission




                                                       50TH ANNIVERSARY           1921- 1971
GEitERALACCOUNTING
                 OFFICE                           NEED FOR INCREASED WNAGEMENT ATTENTION TO
REPORTTO THE CHAIRMAN                             CERTAIN LABORATORYOPERATING PRACTICES IN
ATOMICENERGYCOi@'ISSION                           THENUCLEAR   WEAPONSTESTINGPROGRAM
                                                  Atomic Energy CommissionB-165546

DIGEST
---w-m

WHYTHE REVIEWWASMADE                    7? / c' ^ :;;
    'i The Lawrence Livermore Laboratory   at Livermore,    California,             and the Los ~~~~~~~~
       Alamos Scientific  Laboratory  at Los Alamos, New Mexico, conceive,                 design,
    ii and test nuclear weapons for the Atomic Energy     Commission             (AEC).
                                                    .-__ _. ..--...*. ...--<-- TsI/z.,e_q
                                                                                      .. .
         The General Accounting        Office    (GAO) reviewed operating practjces__of._the
         two laboratories    in nuclear weapons testing--a            program estimated     to have
         &X-about      $214 million      in fiscal     year 1971--because    of indications    that
         they were following      different      practices.


FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS
         In three areas the laboratories           have followed     different practices.     These
         often have resulted       in significant     variations     in costs.  In GAO's opinion
         such cost differences       demonstrate     a need for AEC to adopt procedures for
         systematically    identifying       and evaluating      the operating practices   adopted
         by the two laboratories,        considering     both costs and programmatic      results.
         (See p. 10.)

         Hok-depth     determinations

         livermore     and Los Alamos independently       have developed different        scaling
         laws, or guidelines       used in arriving     at the depth of burial       necessary to
         contain radioactivity       undergound satisfactorily.          The scaling   laws are
         based on the maximum credible yield expected from a particular                  nuclear
         device.      Livermore   and Los Alamos advised GAOthat the scaling laws, de-
         veloped on the basis of experience,          did not dictate the actual depth at
         which a device would be buried.           The laws provide merely a starting           point
          in making such a determination.          Other factors,     such as the location        of the
         proposed test,       are considered  in relation      to expected maximum credible         yield
          in arriving     at the hole depth for a particular        test.

         Using maximum credible  yield,             GAO compared tests conducted during fiscal
         years 1968, 1969, and 1970.              The comparison showed that,   in most cases,
         Los Alamos had conducted its             tests in holes deeper than had Livermore.

         GAO requested     cost estimates     from AEC's architect-engineer       contractor in-
         volved in the nuclear test program.           These estimates      showed that the
         costs of drilling      two 48-inch-diameter      cased holes, one at a depth of 900
         feet and the other at a depth of 1,100 feet,           amounted to about $211,000
         and $252,000,     respectively,    or a difference    of about $47,000 for the ad-
         ditional  200 feet.       GAO noted many tests conducted by Livermore and
                                                                       SEPT.l7,1971
Tear Sheet                                              1
                                                                                                          I
Los Alamos of about the       same maximum credible  yield    in which        Los Alamos'        ,        i
holes   were about    200 feet deeper than Livermore's     holes.                                         I
                                                                                                          I
Los Alamos told      GAO that there were three principal      reasons that it had                         I
tested in holes      deeper than had Livermore.      Los Alamos could not, how-
ever, determine      numerically  the extent that any of these three reasons
had contributed      to its determination   of individual    hole depth.   The rea-
sons were:

  --Geological       differences     among the test   areas used by the two labora-.                      I
                                                                                                          I
     tories    existed.       Los Alamos, however,    did not have any studies  docu-
     menting such differences.                                                                       .I

  --Los Alamos' policy was more conservative    in determining               hole   depth   to
     avoid radioactive releases than was L'ivermore's.

  --Los Alamos generally   scheduled the drilling   of test holes              farther  in
     advance than did Livermore,   which attempted  to tailor   its            hole depth
     specifically to the planned event.     (See pp. 11 to 15.)

Casing of test     holes

In some cases steel casing is cemented to the hole walls to stabilize   the
hole until  the nuclear device is emplaced.  During the early years of the
undergound nuclear test program, both Livermore   and Los Alamos used cas-
ing in all test holes.

Beginning  in 1966 Livermore adopted the practice of using uncased holes
because of the high cost of casing.    AECestimated that the costs of
casing a test hole amounted to about one half of the total hole costs.

Los Alamos was reluctant  to adopt the uncased-hole    practice   because of
the problem which could be created    if an uncased hole were to cave in                                  I
during device emplacement or if the cables leading to the test device                                     I
                                                                                                          I
were to break during the backfill   of the emplacement hole.      In fiscal year                          I
1970, however, it began using uncased holes because of budgetary         restric-
tions and the favorable  experience  of Livermore   in testing  in uncased
holes.    (See p. 16.)

Postshot driZZing
                                                                                                              I   *
Postshot    drilling       is done to secure a sample to be used in obtaining             the                 I 0
most accurate        yield     measurement and certain      other information.    Livermore's                 ;
containment       equipment involves       a filtering    system through which filtered                       I
gases are expelled           into the atmosphere,      whereas Los Alamos' equipment in-                      I
                                                                                                              I
volves a recirculating            system in which all radioactive        gases are circu-                     I
lated back down the hole where they are sealed off.

AEC advised GAO that Los Alamos had much more elaborate        containment
equipment than did Livermore.    Procurement    and maintenance    costs for a
2-year period for the Los Alamos containment      equipment amounted to about‘
$591,000.   The cost for the Livermore   containment    equipment amounted to
about $222,000.

                                            2
     Livermore generally  uses airfoam as the circulating fluid                    in drillback
     operations.  Los Alamos uses mud. The cost for each foot                      drilled    is
     about the same for the two types of fluids.

    AEC advised GAO that mud enhanced containment              and that the use of mud was
    consistent    with the Los Alamos philosophy           of complete containment,      whereas
    the Livermore philosophy      allowed for some leakage.           During fiscal    years
    1969 and 1970, the Livermore       post-shot-drilling        method resulted     in radio-
    active releases      in about one of every three post-shot-drilling             opera-
    tions.     The Los Alamos method did not release any radioactivity.                 AEC
    advised GAO, however, that none of the releases               had constituted    a signif-
    icant health hazard to onsite workers and that none of the releases                    had
  . been detected     outside of the test site.           (See pp. 17 to 19.)

     Recent   developments

     On December 18, 1970, Livermore conducted an underground            nuclear test
     designated   "Baneberry."    This test resulted       in the release of signif-
     icant amounts of radioactivity        to the atmosphere,      After an investiga-
     tion AEC made changes in its review process to ensure more complete con-
     tainment of radioactivity.        Also changes were being considered       in certain
     of the laboratory    testing   practices    discussed   in this report.    (See pp. 20
     to 26.)

     ConcZusions

     GAO believes      that,   because of the complexities      involved  in underground
     nuclear testing        and because of the significant      cost of testing,   closer
     coordination      among all responsible    parties    should be maintained    to pro-
     vide:greater      assurance that both laboratories        use the most appropriate
     testing    practices,     cost and other factors     considered.

     Current AEC procedures           do not provide for periodically             reviewing     and
     evaluating      Livermore's      and Los Alamos' operating          practices      for the pur-
     pose of identifying         differences.      AEC advised GAO that (1) many of the
     different     laboratory     practices     were direct   manifestations           of competing
     laboratory      programs and design concepts and (2) design of experiments,
     including     the design for containment          of radioactivity,         was a responsi-
     bility    which must remain with the laboratories              since it was not feasible
     to separate experimental            design objectives    and containment           objectives.    0

     Although GAO recognizes        that only the nuclear laboratories         have the tech-
     nical expertise    for determining         the appropriate    means for accomplishing
     their respective     technical     objectives,     it believes    that AEC should en-
     courage greater    use by both Livermore         and Los Alamos of those safe and
     feasible   testing   practices     that emanate from the competition        between the
     two laboratories,      considering     the programmatic      benefits  as well as the
     costs of the practices.          (See pp. 27 and 28.)




Tear Sheet
                                                   3
RECOMUENDATIONS
             OR SUGGESTIONS
    GAO recommends      that   AEC:

      --Establish      procedures     for systematically        identifying    and evaluating
         significant      differences     in laboratory      practices.

      --Solicit    formal comments from Livermore    and Los Alamos regarding                   the
         advantages    and disadvantages of the different   practices.
                                                                                                                     I
      --Encourage      the laboratories   to adopt         those practices  which appear         most
         appropriate      from both a programmatic           and an economic standpoint.          (See
         p. 28.)


AGEhW ACTIONS AND UNRESOLVED
                           ISSUES

    AEC agreed with GAO's recommendations             and plans      to take   appropriate      steps
    to implement them.  (See p. 28.)




                                                                                                                 I




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                                               4

                                                                                                         I
                        Contents
                                                           Page

DIGEST                                                       1

CHAPTER

  1       INTRODUCTION                                       5
              Reviews to ensure containment    of radio-
                activity                                     6

  2       DIFFERENCESIN LABORATORYPRACTICES                 10
              Hole-depth determination                      11
              Casing of test holes                          16
              Postshot drilling                             17

  3       ACTIONS TAKEN BY AEC AS A RESULT OF RADIO-
          ACTIVE RELEASEFROMBANEBERRYTEST                   20
              Hole-depth determination                      25
              Casing of test holes                          25
              Postshot drilling                             26

   4      CONCLUSIONS
                    AND RECOMMENDATIONS                     27
             Recommendations                                28

                         ABBREVIATIONS

AEC       Atomic Energy Commission
CEP       Containment Evaluation   Panel
GAO       General Accounting Office
LASL      Los Alamos Scientific   Laboratory
LLL       Lawrence Livermore Laboratory
NV00      Nevada Operations Office
TEP       Test Evaluation   Panel
*GENERALACCOUNTING OFFICE                   NEED FOR INCREASED MANAGEMENTATTENTION TO
RE?ORT TO THE CHAIRMAN                      CERTAIN LABORATORYOPERATING PRACTICES IN
ATqMIC ENERGY CObiPi'ISSION                 THE NUCLEAR WEAPONSTESTING PROGRAM
                                            Atomic Energy Commission B-165546


DIGEST
------


WHY THE REVIEW WAS MADE

       The Lawrence.Livermore     Laboratory   at Livermore, California,  and the Los
       Alamos. Scientific   Laboratory    at Los Alamos, New Mexico, conceive,   design,
       and test nuclear weapons for the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC).

       The.General    Accounting*Office        (GAO) reviewed operating      practices    of the
       two laboratories     in nuclear weapons testing--a           program estimated     to have
       cost about $214 million         in fiscal     year 1971--because    of indications    that
       they were following      different      practices.


FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS

   .    In three ireas the laboratories          have followed      different practices.     These
        often have resulted       in significant     variations     in costs.   In GAO’s opinion
        such cost differences       demonstrate     a need for AEC to adopt procedures         for        t
       ,systematically    identifying      and evaluating       the operating practices    adopted
        by the two laboratories,        considering     both costs and programmatic      results.
        (See p. 10.)

       Hole-depth    deteminations

       Livermore and Los Alamos independently          have developed different         scaling
       laws, or guidelines      used in arriving     at the depth of burial       necessary to
       contain radioactivity      undergound satisfactorily.          The scaling   laws are
       based on the maximum credible       yield expected from a particular           nuclear
       device.     Livermore and Los Alamos advised GAO that the scaling              laws, de-
       veloped on the basis ,of experience,        did not dictate      the actual depth at
       which a device would be buried.          The laws provide merely a starting            point
       in making such a determination.          Other factors,     such as the location         of the
       proposed test,      are considered  in relation      to expected maximum credible          yield
       in arriving     at the hole depth for a particular        test.

       Using maximum credible         yield,    GAO compared tests conducted during fiscal
       years 1968, 1969, and 1970. The comparison showed that,                 in mostncases,
       Los Alamos had conducted its tests in holes deeper than had Livermore.
                .
       GAO requested cost estimates           from AK's architect-engineer       contractor   in-
       volved in the nuclear test program.              These estimates    showed that the
       costs of drilling      two 4%inch-diameter          cased holes, one at a depth of 900
       feet and the other at a depth of 1,100 feet,               amounted to about $211,000
       and $252,000,     respectively,       or a difference    of about $41,000 for the ad-
       ditional   200 feet.      GAO noted many tests conducted by Livermore            and
Los Alamos of about the same maximum credible   yield    in which             Los Alamos'
holes were about 200 feet deeper than Livermore's     holes.

Los Alamos told      GAO that there were three principal      reasons that it had
tested in holes      deeper than had Livermore.      Los Alamos could not, how-
ever, determine      numerically  the extent that any of these three reasons
had contributed      to its determination   of individual    hole depth.   The rea-
sons were:

   --Geological       differences     among the test   areas used by the two labora-
      tories    existed.       Los Alamos, however,    did not have any studies  docu-
      menting such differences.

   --Los Alamos' policy       was more conservative  in determining          hole   depth   to
      avoid radioactive      releases than was Livermore's.

   --Los Alamos generally   scheduled the drilling   of-test   holes           farther  in
      advance than did Livermore,   which attempted  to tailor    its          hole depth
      specifically to the planned event.     (See pp. 11 to 15.)

Casing   of test   holes

In some cases steel    casing is cemented to the hole walls to stabilize   the
hole until  the nuclear device is emplaced.     During the early years of the
undergound nuclear   test program, both Livermore    and Los Alamos used cas-
ing in all test holes.

Beginning  in 1966 Livermore adopted the practice    of using uncased holes
because of the high cost of casing.    AEC estimated   that the costs of
casing a test hole amounted to about one half of the total. hole costs.

Los Alamos was reluctant  to adopt the uncased-hole    practice   because of
the problem which could be created if an uncased hole were to cave in
during device emplacement or if the cables leading to the test device
were to break during the backfill   of the emplacement hole.      In fiscal     year
1970, however, it began using uncased holes because of budgetary        restric-
tions and the favorable  experience  of' Livermore  in testing  in uncased
holes.    (See p. 16.)

Postshot &iZZinq
Postshot    drilling       is done to secure a sample to be used in obtaining             the
most accurate        yield     measurement and certain      other information.    Livermore's
containmhnt       equipment involves       a filtering     system through which filtered
gases are expelled           into the atmosphere,      whereas Los Alamos' equipment in-
volves a recirculating            system in which all radioactive        gases are circu-
lated back down the hole where they are sealed off.

AEC advised GAO that LOS Alamos had much more elaborate        containment
equipment than did Livermore.    Procurement    and maintenance    costs for a
2-year period for the LOS Alamos containment      equipment amounted to about
$591,000.   The cost for the Livermore   containment    equipment amounted to
about $222,000.         .

                                             2
  Livermore   generally uses airfoam as the circulating fluid                  in drillback
  operations.    Los Alamos uses mud. The cost for each foot                   drilled    is
  about the same for the two types of fluids.

  AEC advised GAO that mud enhanced containment                and that the use of mud was
  consistent    with the Los Alamos philosophy             of complete containment,      whereas
  the Livermore     philosophy    allowed for some leakage.           During fiscal    years
  1969 and 1970, the Livermore         post-shot-drilling        method resulted     in radio-
  active   releases    in about one of every three post-shot-drilling               opera-
  tions.     The Los Alamos method did not release any radioactivity.                  AEC
  advised GAO, however, that none of the releases                had constituted     a signif-
  icant health hazard to onsite workers and that none of the releases                      had
  been detected     outside    of the test site.          (See pp. 17 to 19.)

  Recent deve Zopments

  On December 18, 1970, Livermore          conducted an underground     nuclear test
  designated   "Baneberry."      This test resulted      in the release    of signif-
  icant amounts of radioactivity         to the atmosphere.      After  an  investiga-
  tion AEC made changes in its review process to ensure more complete con-
  tainment   of radioactivity.       Also changes were being considered         in. certain
  of the laboratory      testing  practices    discussed   in this report.      (See pp. 20
  to 26.)

  ConcZusions

  GAO believes       that,   because of the complexities      involved  in underground
  nuclear    testing      and because of the significant      cost of testing,   closer
  coordination       among all responsible    parties    should be maintained    to pro-
  vide.greater       assurance that both laboratories        use the most appropriate
  testing    practices     , cost and other factors     considered.

  Current AEC procedures           do not provide for periodically            reviewing     and
  evaluating      Livermore's      and Los Alamos' operating          practices    for the pur-
  pose of identifying         differences.      AEC advised GAO that (1) many of the
  different     laboratory     practices    were direct    manifestations         of competing
. laboratory      programs and design concepts and (2) design of experiments,
  including     the design for containment          of radioactivity,         was a responsi-
  bility    which must remain with the laboratories              since it was not feasible
  to separate      experimental       design objectives    and containment          objectives.

  Although GAO recognizes          that only the nuclear       laboratories    have the tech-
  nical expertise      for determining        the appropriate     means for accomplishing
  their    respective    technical     objectives,    it believes     that AEC should en-
  courage greater      use by both Livermore        and Los Alamos of those safe and
  feasible     testing   practices     that emanate from the competition         between the
  two laboratories,        considering     the programmatic      benefits   as well as the
  costs of the practices.            (See pp. 27 and 28.)
            RECOIdWENDATIONSOR SUGGESTIONS

                 GAO recommends         that   AEC:

                      --Establish      procedures    for systematically        identifying       and evaluating
                         significant     differences     in laboratory      practices.

                      --Solicit    formal comments from Livermore    and Los Alamos regarding                     the
                         advantages    and disadvantages of the different   practices.

                      --Encourage      the laboratories   to adopt        those practices  which appear            most
                         appropriate      from both a programmatic          and an economic standpoint.             (See
                         p. 28.)


            AGENCY ACTIONS AND UNRESOLVEDISSUES

                AEC agreed with GAO's recommendations                and plans         to take   appropriate      steps
                to implement them.  (See p. 28.)




                                                                                   .




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                                  CHAPTER1

                                INTRODUCTION

            The Atomic Energy Commission develops and produces nu=
      clear weapons for the Department of Defense.      Overall re-
      sponsibility  for the direction    of AEC's weapons program is
      vested in the Division   of Military.Application   at i&C Head-
      quarters.

             In developing nuclear weapons for the Department of De-
      fense, AEC has the authority     to conduct tests involving   nu-
      clear detonations.      Section 91 of the Atomic-Energy Act au-
     .thorizes AEC to conduct experiments and to perform research
      and development work in the military      application  of atomic
      energy,    ABC estimated that, for fiscal    year 1971, the costs
      of its nuclear weapons testing program would amount to about
      $214 million.

             AEC implements its nuclear weapons testing program
      through its Nevada Operations Office (NVOO). Generally -
      NVOO's mission is to coordinate   the planning and execution
I     of AEC's nuclear weapons tests and other nuclear explosive-
      related experiments in the most economic&l manner while en-
      suring the safety of the general public.

             Most nuclear experiments are conducted by ABC's two nu-
      clear laboratories    --the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory     (LLL)l
      and the Los Alamos Scientific      Laboratory  (LASL).   Both LLL
      and LASL are operated for AEC by the University        of Califor-
      nia.    The Sandia Corporation,    which operates ABC's non-
    + nuclear-weapons    laboratories,   and the Defense Nuclear Agency
      of the Department of Defense conduct a limited number of nu-
      clear tests.
                  ,
                                          I
             We reviewed selected aspects concerning the underground
      testing   of nuclear weapons at AEC's Nevada Test Site.         Our

      1
       Prior to June 18, l.971, the laboratory     was named the
       Lawrence Radiation Laboratory.



                                       5
    review was directed primarily       toward identifying  and assess-
    ing different     operating practices    followed by LLL and LASL
    in carrying    out their test programs, and it did not include
    an overall    evaluation   of the testing program.
            During our examination we interviewed  cognizant of-
    ficials     and/or examined pertinent documents at AEC Headquar-
    ters, Germantown, Maryland; LLL; L&L; the Nevada Operations
    Office,     Las Vegas, Nevada; and the Nevada Test Site, Nye
    County, Nevada.

          The contents of this report have been discussed with
    representatives   of AEC, and their comments have been incor-
    porated into the report.

    REVIEWS TO ENSURECONTAINMENT
    OF RADIOACTIVITY

            On August 5, 1963, representatives     of the United States,
    the United Kingdom, and the Union of Soviet Socialist         Repub-
    lics entered into a treaty,      commonly referred    to as the Lim-
    ited Test Ban Treaty.       The Limited Test Ban Treaty prohibits
    nuclear explosive     tests in the atmosphere, outer space, and
    underwater but permits unbrground        nuclear detonations   un-
    less they cause radioactive      debris to be present outside the
    territorial    limits .of the nation conducting    the test.

          In giving its advice and consent to the ratification      of
    the Limited Test Ban Treaty, the Senate insisted      on assurance
    by the President that four safeguards would be implemented
    under the joint responsibility      of AEC and the Department of
    Defense.    One of the safeguards was the continuation     of a
    comprehensive,   aggressive,   underground nuclear test program.
                                                         G
           1n"carrying  out the testing,program,'LLL~       LASL, and AEC
    conduct a series of reviews to ensure that each proposed test
0   will be conducted safely and within the constraints          of the
    Limited Test Ban Treaty.       In planning for a particular     exper-
    iment,   LLL and LASL determine,      among other things,   (1) the
    hole depth needed to conduct the test, (2) the stemming plan
    (method used to fill      the emplacement hole), and (3) the ef-
    fect of the explosion on the surrounding         geology and the em-
    placed hardware.     LLL and LASL evaluate and assess those
    conditions    which influence    containment of the explosion and

                                       6                                   0
advise AEC of the results  of such assessments.  At the time
of our review, each planned test was then reviewed by a Test
Evaluation  Panel (TEP) at NVOO.

       TEP was established     by the Manager, NVOO, on Decem-
ber 16, 1963, shortly      after the Limited Ban Treaty was rati-
fied.    Creation of TEP stemmed from AEC policy guidance con-
cerning the continuation       of weapons development testing and
concerning the establishment       of formal review procedures de-
signed to reduce the possibility       of an individual  test's  vi-
olating,   or being regarded as a violation      of, the Limited
Test Ban Treaty.

       TEP was chaired by the NV00 Test Manager and comprised
individuals   having considerable  experience in nuclear test-
ing.    Members of TEP included representatives    of LLL, I&L,
the Department of Defense, Sandia Laboratories,      the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,      and the Environmental
Protection   Agency and independent consultants.

      The primary purpose of TEP was to review all data per-
tinent to containment aspects of each planned nuclear test
and to report the results      of its deliberations  and conclu-
sions to the Manager, NVOO, for his review and for further
transmittal   to the Assistant    General Manager for Military
Application   at AEC Headquarters.

       In making recommendations to the Manager, NVOO, TEP
classified   each planned test into one of the following cate-
gories.

     Category A--Underground     nuclear tests which, on the ba-
     sis of experience,    should  not release a significant
     amount of radioactive     material.    It must be understood
     that, even in this category,unforeseenconditions         may
     develop which result     in the release of detectable     levels
     of radioactivity    at the U.S. border.

     Category B--Underground nuclear tests which are designed
     to not release a significant  amount of radioactive  mate-
     rials but for which design configurations  have not been
     proved by experience.
          Category C--Underground nuclear       tests which are ex-
          pected to release a significant       amount of radioactive
          material.

           During each TEP meeting presentations        normally were
    made by representatives        of the sponsoring laboratory     regard-
    ing the technical      data associated with the test and by rep-
    resentatives    of NV00 regarding the construction       of the em-
    placement facility.        After all data was presented,     members
    of TEP were requested individually         to make a voice vote as
    to their assignment to a category.           In some cases a unan-
    imous vote was not obtained;         the Chairman then either in-
    structed    the sponsoring laboratory      to produce additional'
    data at the next meeting or accepted the majority           vote for
c
    categorization,     his choice depending on the pertinence         of
    the topic of nonagreement.

           On occasion TEP assigned a test to a conditional      cate-
    gorization     because technical   data was not complete and/or an
    emplacement facility      was incomplete.   If the test were sched-
    uled for detonation     prior to the next scheduled TEP meeting,
    this data was furnished      to TEP by mail or teletype  for its
    review with a request for a vote to remove the conditional
    categorization.

         After each meeting      the Chairman of TEP transmitted    the
    recommendations arrived      at by TEP to the Manager, NVOO. The
    Manager, NVOO, in turn,      requested execution authority   from
    the Division  of Military     Application at AEC Headquarters.

          The Division  of Military   Application and the AEC Com-
    missioners  reviewed each proposed test, and the Commissioners
    granted final authority     for the execution of each test.

            As of June 30, 1971, 233 announced underground nuclear
    tests had been conducted after the Limited Test Ban Treaty
    was signed in August 1963. The majority       of these tests
    were conducted at the Nevada Test Site.       For operational
    flexibility    each laboratory has been allocated    separate areas
    for conducting    its tests at the test site.




                                         8
       On December 18, 1970, an underground nuclear test, des-
ignated "Baneberry,"    was conducted at the Nevada Test Site,
which resulted    in the release of significant     amounts of ra-
dioactivity    to the atmosphere,   As a result of this test,
AEC has revised certain operating      policies  and procedures.
The discussion    in chapter 2, however, is concerned with
those differences    in laboratory  practices   which we identi-
fied during our review before the Baneberry. test was executed.

       On March 19, 1971, TEP was renamed the Containment
Evaluation   Panel (CEP) and its functions      and procedures were
redefined and reemphasized.         The purpose of this change was
to emphasize the containment review responsibilities          of the
principal   organizations   involved in underground nuclear
testing   and to strengthen the panel membership in the areas
of geology, hydrology,     and underground nuclear phenomenology.
The CEP and the differences       in laboratory  practices,   as af-
fected by changes made in the testing program resulting          from
the Baneberry test, are discussed in chapter 3.
                               CHAPTER2

              DIFFERENCESIN LABORATORYPRACTICES

       Our review showed that ILL and LASL had followed dif-
ferent practices     with respect to (1) hole-depth           determina-
tions,    (2) casing of test holes, and (3) postshot drilling,
in conducting     nuclear tests at the Nevada Test Site.              These
practices    often have resulted       in significant    differences       in
costs.     In our opinion such cost differences          demonstrate a
need for AEC to adopt procedures for systematically                identi-
fying and evaluating       the differing     operating practices
adopted by LLL and LASL, considering            both costs and pro-
grammatic results.       .

      AEC officials     stated that NV00 was responsible      for   .
containment and that such responsibility          had been defined
in the General Manager's planning directives,           which are
NVOO's annual operating       instructions.     The planning direc-
tive for fiscal     year 1971 stated that the Manager, NVOO,
was directed,     among other things,       to:

      1. Assume overall responsibility           for   the conduct    of
         the nuclear testing operation.

      2. Ensure that device emplacement and the firing    of *
         test devices, as well as postshot operations,    are
         conducted in a manner consistent  with the Limited
         Test Bank Treaty.

      3. Take every precaution   necessary to reduce to a min-
         imum the hazards, both to the public and to onsite
         employees, of a nuclear detonation   and any subse-
         quent postshot operation.

     With respect to the different practices    followed by
LLL and LASL, NV00 advised us, in a letter   dated May 17,
1971, that:

     *-3c;k*NV00 has not conducted formal studies of the
     different   practices    of each Laboratory  as these
     practices   affect containment.     Through our re-
     views to assure safe detonations       and to avoid vi-
     olation   of the Partial    Test Ban Treaty we have

                                    10
         always been aware of the different    practices    and
         of the new techniques as developed and introduced
         by each testing organization.     The Laboratories
         efforts  in containment prior to Baneberry were
         treated as an integral   part of their experimental
         efforts  and it was never envisioned   that the same
         approach would be used any more than in any other
         areas of their experimentation."

            The major differences 'in laboratory    practices   that we
    identified    are discussed below.

    HOLE-DEPTHDETERMINATION            1

          In a public document entitled "Safety of Underground
    Nuclear Testing, " dated April 1969, NV00 stated that:

         "Containment and 'venting are reasonably well un-
         derstood.   A very substantial   amount of data is
         in hand on the containment of nuclear explosions
         over a broad range of yields.     Scaling laws have
         been developed whereby the depth of burial re-
         quired to contain an underground explosion     of
         yields in the ranges cf interest    can be calcu-
         lated with a high degree of confidence.     Test
         emplacement practices   that are used today assure
         comfortable  margins of containment safety ***.'I

           AEC advised us in July 1971 that, as a result of expe-           . '
    rience gained through the conduct of tests subsequent to
    the above quote, AEC was in the process of revising             the
,   document to show a position         consistent   with this experi-
    ence. ABC explained        that the mechanics of event contain-
    ment were well understood only from an empirical            point of
    view and that additional        investigations    needed to be accom-
    plished before the theoretical          mechanisms could be fully
    understood.     In addition,     AEC said that scaling laws had
    not been developed for use with a high degree of confidence
    but that scaling laws had been developed Grid were being
    used as a rule of thumb. AEC said also.that             complete con-
    tainment design required        that each event be sited by con-
    sidering    its individual     characteristics.



                                      11
      We were advised by LLL and LASL that the scaling laws
referred  to above were a function  of the maximum credible
yield expected from a particular   device.

       During our review we noted that the two nuclear labo-
ratories    had not used similar  scaling laws for determining
hole depths and that, for tests having comparable maximum
credible    yields, LLL generally  had used hole depths shal-
lower than had LASL.

       LLL and LASL officials        advised us that the development
of the scaling laws for determining            hole depths had been an
empirical    process.     They stated, however, that the hole
depth indicated      by the scaling laws was not the actual
working-point      depth used for device emplacement but provided
merely a starting       point.in    determining    the actual depth at
which a test would be conducted.             We were informed, for ex-
ample, that the hole depth indicated            by the scaling laws
normally was increased for more complex diagnostic              experi-
ments which required more experimental             equipment in the
hole.     In addition,    other'factors,      such as the location     of
the proposed test in relation            to past events or nearby
holes, must be considered.

       AEC advised us that both LLL and LASL believed        that
high-yield     tests could be conducted at shallower depths
scaled in relation      to yield than could low-yield    tests.
Once the proper depth has been selected,       even further     in-
creases in depth may be required.       For example, the test
experiment may call for a mined room at the bottom of the
hole.     For this type of experiment,    the hole depth may be
dictated    partially   by the need for a competent rock forma-
tion.                 .

      Because both LLL and LASL advised us that the hole
depths calculated     by their scaling laws were not the actual
working-point    depths used, we compared the actual hole
depths used for LLL and LASL tests conducted during fiscal
years 1968, 1969, and 1970. Our review of those tests by                    .
maximum credible    yield showed that, generally,  LAST, had
used holes deeper than had LLL.

       AEC advised us that each laboratory   considered the
differences    in the geology of its test areas in determining


                                   12
depth of burial.          AEC stated, however, that, in many areas,
the geology was uniform enough so that changes for contain-
ment reasons might not be required.
       To obtain an indication        of the magnitude of the cost
difference'in      drilling     test holes at various depths, we re-
quested estimates of drilling           costs from NVOO. Fenix and
Scission,     Inc., NVOO's architect-engineer         contractor,   pre-
pared cost estimates for drilling            two 48-inch-diameter
cased holes, one at a depth of 900 feet and the other at a
depth of 1,100 feet.          These estimates showed that the costs
of drilling      the 900-foot hole and the 1,103-foot          hole
amounted to about $211,000 and $252,000, respectively,                or a
difference      of about $41,000 for the additional         200 feet.
We noted many tests conducted by LASL and LLL of about the
same maximum credible         yield in which LASL's holes were
about 200 feet deeper than LLL's holes.
       Because of the different   scaling laws and different
hole depths used by the laboratories      for tests having simi-
lar maximum credible    yields and because of the significance
in drilling    costs, we discussed with LLL and LASL the rea-
sons that accounted for the disparity       in hole depths.  The
principal   reasons presented by LASL for using holes deeper
than LLL used for tests in the same yield range follow.
      1. Geologic differences       of the LLL and LASL test
         areas-- LASL explained      that the geology of its test
         area was different      from the geology of LLL's test
         area.    According to LASL the composition       of its
         area's geology is less compact than that of the LLL
         area.     LASL stated that its experience,     due to this
         geologic difference,       had indicated  that its hole
         depths should be deeper.        LASL, however, did not
         have any documented studies on the basic geological
         differences    between the LLL and LASL test areas.
      2. Conservatism --LASL advised us that it was more con-
         servative    than LLL in determining     hole depths to
         avoid radioactive     releases.
      3. Scheduling differences --LLL schedules the drilling                 ~
         of its test holes 60 to 90 days before a test hole
         is needed and attempts to tailor     its hole depth
         specifically   to the planned event.     L&L, however,
         provides NV00 with a drilling    schedule for an


                                    13
          en tire year.    Under LASL's method test holes may
         not be utilized     to the maximumextent     possible be-
         cause requirements     may change during the year.
         LASL advised us, however, that it did update its
         drilling   schedule periodically     and that no signifi-
         cant inefficiency     resulted   from its scheduling
         method.

      We discussed the above-mentioned     factors with LASL to
determine the extent to which each contributed       to the spe-
cific  depths for individual   test holes.     LASL advised us,
however, that it could not quantify     the extent to which
these factors affected    hole depths.

        Because LLL generally   conducted its tests in holes
shallower     than did LASL, we selected all LLL tests, con-
ducted from January 1968 through October 1970, in which
significant     amounts of radioactive    releases had been mea-
sured, to determine whether the releases had been attri-
buted to inadequate depths of burial.           We considered a sig-
nificant    release to be 100 curies or more. According to
ARC records release of radioactivity          generally  must go well
above 100 c,uries before it is detected offsite.            In review-
ing LLL's records of these releases,          we found that none of
the causes had been attributed        byLLLto    inadequate depths
of burial.

        During our review, however, LLL conducted a test des-
ignated "Baneberry."      This test resulted     in the release of
significant    amounts of radioactivity      to the -atmosphere.
The Baneberry Summary Report, which resulted          from a techni-
cal investigation    of the failure     of the Baneberry test to
be contained underground,     concluded that the primary cause
of the release was:

     'I*** an unexpected and abnormally high water con-
     tent in the medium surrounding    the detonation
     point.   This increased thecouplingof     energy
     into the earth and also extended the duration of
     high pressures in the cavity.     The end result was
     the shot's behaving as if it were of higher ef-
     fective  yield and therefore  emplaced at too shal-
     low a depth.    The nature of the eventual release


                                   14
             is what      could be expected    for an underburied
             test."       (Underscoring   supplied.)

      This   particular      test   is discussed       in de-i1   in chapter   3.




. .




                                                   l




                                             15
CASING OF TEST HOLES

       During the early years of the underground nuclear test
program, both LLL and L&L used casing in their test holes.
According to LLL the primary function    of casing is to sta-
biliqe   the test hole until the nuclear device is emplaced.
NV00 advised us that the costs of casing a test hole
amounted to about one half of the total hole costs.     (See
p.l3.)
       LLL advised us that, in August- 1966, it adopted the
practice     of using uncased holes for its tests because of
the high costs of casing.          LLL reasoned that, if a hole
stood long enough to complete the drilling,           it would stand
long enough to emplace the nuclear device.            LLL further    ex-
plained that this method was workable because its test holes
usually were drilled      for specific     events and did not stand
long once completed.        In addition,    LLL expressed the opinion      '
that casing did not enhance the capabilities            for containing
radioactivity.       We were informed, however, that LLL would
use casing in certain       situations,    such as:

      1. Holes that    are drilled   below the static     water   table.

      2. Experiments that use mined rooms. Safety precautions
         will not permit anyone to go down a hole unless it*
         has been cased.

       LASL advised us that it had been reluctant    to adopt
the uncased-hole     practice because of the problems which
could be created if an uncased hole were to cave in during
device emplacement or if the cables leading to.'the test de-
vice were to break during the backfillbf      the emplacement
hole.    LASL explained that a man could be sent down a cased
hole to repair broken cables but that it would be very dif-
ficult   and dangerous in an uncased hole,

      LML advised us that, nevertheless,       it began using un-
cased holes in fiscal     year 1970 because of budgetary restric-
tions and the favorable     experience of LLL in testing    in un-
cased holes.   During fiscal     year 1970 only three of a total
of 22 holes drilled    for LASL-were uncased.     In October 1970
L&L's drilling    schedule for fiscal    year 1971 showed that,
of a total of 26 holes, 21 would be uncased.
                                                                 i

POSTSHOTDRILLING
         --
      Postshot drilling    is a drillback     technique used to ob-
tain a sample from the immediate vicinity           of the test cav-
ity for the purpose of obtaining        the most accurate yield
measurement and certain other diagnostic          information.    LLL
and LASL used different      techniques to accomplish their post-
shot-drilling  operations.       These differences     involve primar-
ily the type of circulating       fluid and the containment equip-
ment used.

       In a letter    dated December 17, 1970, NW0 provided us
with a list of LLL and LASL tests performed during fiscal
years1969and       1970 on which postshot drilling    was conducted.
This information      showed that, during the Z-year period,
ILL's post-shot-drilling       method had resulted   in radioactive
releases in about one of every three drillbacks         and that
LASL's post-shot-drilling       method had not resulted    in radio-
active releases.

      AEC advised us that none of the releases had consti-
tuted a significant     health hazard to onsite   workers and
that none of the releases had been detected outside of the
test site.    The different    post-shot-drilling methods used
by ILL and LASL are discussed below.

Circulating     fluid
        Generally,    LLL uses airfoam as the circulating          fluid in
drillback     operations    and LASL uses drilling          mud.1 LLL of-
ficials     have expressed the opinion that airfoam is cheaper
than mud because a considerable              amount of mud is lost down-
hole.     LLL  maintains    that  drilling       with airfoam has a faster
penetration      rate and that there are fewer hole problems,
such as drilling       equipment's      sticking     in the hole.
        LASL explained that     it used mud for the circulating
fluid    in postshot drilling      for several reasons, including:


1Drilling  mud is a liquid,       usually water, which carries var-
 ious solids,    such as barite,     in suspension to thicken it.
 The formulation     is carefully    controlled   according to the
 current drilling      situation.                                  @


                                    13
c

          1. Mud provided a more stable                                      hole;         therefore        less
             holes were lost.

          2    Mud provided              a barricade                      to radioactive               gases.

          3.   Mud acted            as   a coolant.                                  '

          4. Mud acted as a better                                  lubricant             for   the drill       bit.

            NV00 officials advised us that mud enhanced contain-
    ment and that the use of mud for postshot drilling       was con-
    sistent    with LASL's philosophy of complete containment,
    whereas LLL's philosophy      allowed some leakage.   These offi-
    cials also stated that, although mud cost more than airfoam,
    the cost for each foot drilled       was about the same because
    mud allowed for a lower maintenance cost for the drill       bit.

    Containment         equipment

           In the past Fenix and Scisson,                                      Inc., made trend analy-
    ses of post-shot-drilling      costs for                                   NVOO. These trend anal-
    yses showed that     the costs for each                                    foot in postshot drill-
    ing were about the same for LLL and                                        USL.    We noted, how-
    ever, that the costs of containment                                        equipment had not-been                  .
    included in such analyses.

          NV00 has defined containment equipment as that equip-
    ment which is used to control    radioactivity     release during
    postshot reentry activity   with a drill      rig.  According to
    NVCO, LASL has much more elaborate       containment equipment
    thanhas   LLL. NV00 provided us with the following         costs of
    procurement and maintenance for containment equipment over
    a Z-year period.
              ,
                                     .$'rocurement        and Maintenance    Costs
                                     of Postshot          Containpnt    Equipment
                                               Fiscal year                  Fiscal year
                                                   1969                         1970              Total
                                              -                     -   (000 omitted)
               LASL:
                   Procurement                       $ 95                      $102               $197
                   Maintenance                        219                       175                394
                          Total                      $314                      $277               $591
               LLL:
                      Procurement                    $ 36                      $ 38               s 74
                      Maintenance                     67                        81                 148
                          Total                      $B                        s-2                $222




                                                               18
        LLL informed us that it used only that amount of con-
  tainment equipment which it believed necessary but that
  safety was the primary consideration.   LLL uses a filtering
'system that e.xpels filtered  gases into the atmosphere.

      LASL informed us that its equipment was designed for
complete 'containment.   LASL uses a recirculating     system in
which all radioactive   gases are circulated     back down the
hole where they are sealed off.    LASL agreed that its con-
tainment equipment was much more sophisticated       and costly
than LLL's but explained that the use of such equipment was
in agreement with LASL's philosophy     of complete containment.




                                 19
                              CHAPTER3

              ACTIONS TAKEN BY AEC AS A RESULT OF

                     RADIOACTIVE RELEASE FROM

                           BANEBERRYTEST

      During our review LLL conducted a test designated
"Baneberry,"   which resulted      in the release of significant
amounts of radioactivity       to the atmosphere.        Because of
this release,   which amounted to about 3 million           curies, 1
AEC initiated   a self-imposed       moratorium on testing;      con-
ducted a technical     investigation     of Baneberry; and revised
its current operating policies         and procedures to ensure
proper and clear assignment of responsibilities,             adequacy
of documentation,    and appropriate       dissemination    of informa-
tion.
       An ad hoc committee was appointed by the Manager, NVOO,
to investigate    the Baneberry test.    The committee concluded
that the primary cause of the Baneberry release was an un-
expected and abnormally high water content in a relatively
limited   area around the Baneberry site.     (See p. 14.)   Ac-
co$ding to AEC this geological     environment was unique in
relation   to AEC's previous test experience.

        According to AEC records there was an insufficient          rec-
ognition     of material   properties   in the immediate vicinity
of the Baneberry site before the test was executed.             In par-
ticular,     certain unknown water-saturated     clay layers were
not recognized      in selecting    the depth of burial.   LLL offi-
cials advised us that LLL had been aware of the high water
content in samples taken from a nearby exploratory          hole.
They stated, however, that the hole had been drilled           with
water as the circulating         medium and that this factor was
considered by LLL to be the cause of the high water content
in the sample taken.


1Calculated  at 12 hours after release. The gross fission
 products released amounted to about 700 million curies.
        According to AEC the following actions will be taken to
minimize the possibility    of such an occurrence in the
future.
       1. Since the proper depth is dependent on the physical
          properties   of the medium in which the experiment is
          conducted, these properties        will be determined in
          all geologically      complex regions or in new media to
          allow proper determination       of the depth of burial
          for the experiment.        This will require exploratory
          drilling   sufficient    to know the geology from the
          surface to the working point.
      2. Construction     activities    9 particularly   those which
         introduce    large quantities      of water during drilling
         operations,     can change the preexisting        properties   of
         the medium. Such activities            will be monitored,    and
         any significant      modifications      will be incorporated
         in the determination        of a proper depth of burial.

      3. Increased theoretical      attention   will be given to the
         hydrodynamic problems associated with ground re-
         sponse and to the determination        of a proper depth of
         burial   for each specific     medium,

          As pointed out on page 10, AEC officials      advised us
.that the annual planning directives        defined NVOO's respon-
  sibility    with respect to containment.      Subsequent to the
  Baneberry investigation,    the Assistant     General Manager for
 Military     Application, on February 26, 1971, issued the fol-
  lowing policy statement concerning the responsibilities          for
  containment.

      **The Director  of the weapons laboratory     sponsor-
      ing a test at the Nevada Test Site is responsible
      to the Manager, uevada Operations Office,       for the
      proper containment of that test.       The Manager,
      Nevada Operations Office,    in turn is responsible
      to the General Manager through the Assistant       Gen-
      eral Manager for Military    Application   for the
      overall   safe conduct of the test and for the re-
      view of the test through the Test Evaluation
      Panel.s'



                                   21
      In addition,   on March 26, 1971, the Assistant   General
Manager for Military    Application transmitted  the following
information.

      "To ensure a clearer and more precise understand-
      ing of the intent of the policy guidance provided
      in the [February 26, 19713 message, the policy
      statement has been changed to read as follows:

             'The Manager, Nevada Operations Office,         is
            responsible   to the General Manager through
            the Assistant    General Manager for Military
            Application   for the proper containment and
            safe conduct of tests and for the review of
            tests through the Test Evaluation        Panel.
            The Director    of the weapons laboratory       spon-
            soring a test is responsible       to the Manager,
            Nevada Operations Office,      for the design of
            systems to provide such proper containment
            of the test.'    " (Underscoring     supplied.)

       After the Baneberry test NV00 restructured              TEP under a
new charter and renamed it CEP. For CEP the mix of voting
members was changed to emphasize factors             affecting    complete
containment of proposed tests rather than to emphasize con-
sideration    of conditions     affecting    safety if a release did
occur.     Therefore  several TEP voting members, including             (1)
                            a representative      from the Environ-
~eZ!~c,"~o~~~~~~~.   1$ncy       and (3) a representative'from          the
National Oceanic and Atmispheric          Administration,       were to
become nonvoting advisers to CEP. Also experts in the
fields    of geology and hydrology were to be added as voting
members of CEP. '
     The purpose of CEP is to assist           the Manager, NVOO, in
the review of proposed nuclear tests           to ensure that:

      I'*** the containment design is one which will (a)
      provide reasonable assurance of satisfactory       con-
      tainment;   or (b) release radioactivity  under con-
      trolled   conditions  and/or within the guidelines
      established    by the General Manager."



                                    22
       As previously   discussed (see pp. 7 and 81, TEP was cre-
 ated to establish    formal review procedures designed to re-
 duce the possibility     of an individual     test's   violating,   or
 being regarded as a violation-of,         the Limited Test-Ban
 Treaty.   In essence a violation       of the Limited Test Ban
 Treaty would be indicated      by the detection      of radioactive
 debris outside the territorial       limits   of the United States.
        AEC advised us that the formation of CEP had added fur-
 ther emphasis on containment in contrast     to TW which had
 emphasized the review and evaluation     of data associated    with
 proposed tests to determine the possibility     of such tests'
 resulti)ig  in violation  of the Limited Test BanvTreaty.

         As defined in the new charter for CEP, the policy of
  AEC is that, except for specific        tests approved for release
  of radioactivity,       all nuclear tests shall be planned and
  conducted in such a manner as to be contained satisfacto-
  rily.     AEC defines satisfactory     containment as that which
  will result in no radioactivity        measurable offsite   by normal
. monitoring    equipment and in no unanticipated      release of ra-
  dioactivity     onsite.

       As described in its charter,     CEP will be responsible   to
  the Manager, NVOO, for the review of the containment plan of.
  each test.   The proposing laboratory   will be responsible   for
  such plans.   Specifically CEF will:

        "a. Review the containment design and those experi-
            mental features which affect containment of
            each test.      When appropriate,    recommen$to the
            laboratory    which'proposes     the test changes to
            e"nhance containment such as changes in siting,
            burial depth, etc.       When needed, request addi-
            tional   information    to clarify   and verify  con-
            ditions    which affect containment.
    I
        "b. Categorize   each proposed   test   as follows:

            Category I - Underground nuclear tests which,
            on the basis of experience and judgment, will
            be contained satisfactorily.
        ,


                                   23
                                                                           .



               Category II - Underground nuclear tests which
               are designed to be contained satisfactorily
               but which in the judgment of the CEP cannot
               be assigned to Category I because of location,
               configuration     or other factors.    It is ex-
               pected that experiments in this category will
               require    special consideration    and approval be-
               fore being conducted.

               Category III - Underground nuclear tests which
               are expected to release a significant   amount
               of radioactive material.   Experiments in this
               category will require special consideration
               and approval before being conducted.
      “C   .   After the detonation       of a test which releases
               radioactivity,      review the circumstances    and
               assess the reason for the release of radioac-
               tivity,     its extent and remedial measures
               which should be considered        in the design of
               future tests and/or recommend additional         in-
               vestigations.

      "d. When requested,    evaluate predictions   of amounts
          of radiation   that may be expected off-site      and
          the expected concentrations     at border exits."

       In contrast     to the procedures of TEP, in which only the
majority    vote was summarized, the procedures of CEP require
that categorization        be made individually      by each panel mem-
ber with a written        statement as to the'reasons        for the as-
signment.     These categorizations,       written    conclusions,
meeting minutes, and whatever further            explanation    as is
appropriate     constitute     a recommendation to the Manager,
NVOO, that each test can or cannot be detonated with satis-
factory    containm&nt.

      Because of the significant    release from the Baneberry
test and because of its effect     on the testing    program, we
asked LLL and LASL officials     whether any changes would be
made in their testing   practices,     These discussions    are sum-
marized below.



                                      24
.

    HOLE-DEPTHDETERMINATION
          According to LLL Baneberry has emphasized that standard
    formulas for computing hole depths cannot be applied for all
    nuclear tests and that past experiences with containment
    cannot be used as the primary criteria   for determining    fu-
    ture hole depths.   LLL stressed  that more  information  now
    must be known about the geology, hydrology,     etc., of the
    immediate vicinity  of each proposed test location.

          LLL had not determined,   at the time    of our review, what
    its new criteria   would be. LLL stated,      however, that, in
    the future,   deeper holes probably would     be used by LLL for
    lower yield tests and that both LLL and       LASL probably would
    be using similar criteria.     No decision    with respect to
    this matter had yet been made.
          LslSL advised us that, after a careful examination of
    its past experience,     it had concluded that its criteria     for
    determining   hole depths were adequate and would not change.
    LASL'advised us also that, in the future,     more information
    concerning the immediate area of each test location        would
    be obtained;    however, it did not know how the information
    would be used or to what extent each factor would be weighed
    in hole-depth    determinations.

    CASING OF TEST HOLES

           LLL advised us that, because CEP might require that all
    actions associated with a test be completed before CEP re-
    viewed a proposed test, LLL might be required to schedule
    the drilling     of its test holes further    in advance of planned
    tests than it had previously.        LLL stated  that, because this
    practice     of scheduling usually would result     in holes' stand-
    ing longer before they were used, it probably would have to
    use more cased holes.       We noted, however, that    the first
    three LLL tests proposed to CEP were planned to be executed
    in uncased holes.
          LASL stated that it had always had some reservations
    regarding radioactive  containment within an uncased hole.
    IASL also advised us that, as a result of the Baneberry test,
    in the immediate future it would use only cased holes to

                                     25
provide a greater assurance of containment,  Subsequently
ARC advised us that both LLL and LASL would use a mix of
cased and uncased holes, depending on site geology and ex-
periment design,

POSTSHOTDRILLING

     LLL advised us that, as a result of the Baneberry test,
ARC was placing more emphasis on improving containment.
Because of this increased emphasis, LLL did not know whether
it would be required to change its post-shot-drilling   method.
      LASL advised us that it   did not plan to change its
method of postshot drilling.




                                26
                                CHAPTER4

                  CONCLUSIONSAND RECOMMENDAIIONS

       The primary purposes of conducting nuclear tests under-
ground are to obtain the desired diagnostic         information   and
to avoid the release of radioactivity       to the atmosphere.
We believe that, because of the complexities          involved in
underground nuclear testing and because of the significant
cost of testing,      closer coordination  among all responsible
parties    should be maintained to provide greater assurance
that both laboratories       use the most appropriate     testing
practices,considering       the costs and benefits    involved.

      LLL and LASL have been following     different     practices
with respect to (1) hole-depth    determinations,       (2) casing
of test holes, and (3) postshot drilling,         in conducting nu-
clear tests at the Nevada Test Site.       Such practices       often
have resulted  in significant  differences      in costs.

       As pointed out in chapter 3, AEC has revised its proce-
dures for reviewing proposed nuclear tests &d, in addition,
has more clearly     defined NVOO's responsibility      for ensuring
containment of radioactivity      in underground nuclear tests.
It appears that such actions will increase NVOO's awareness
regarding    its responsibilities    forensuring   containment of
nuclear tests and that the increased emphasis placed on CEP
will increase the probability       of containment on individual
tests.
         Current NV00 procgdures do not provide for periodically
reviewing and evaluating        LLL's and LASL's operating          practices
for the purpose of identifying         differences.       ARC advised us
that (1) many of the different         laboratory     practices     were
direct manifestations        of competing laboratory        programs and
design concepts and (2) design of experiments,               including
the design for containment of radioactivity,              was a respon-
sibility      which must remain with LLL and LASL since it was
not feasible       to separate experimental      design objectives        an&
containment objectives.




                                     27
       Although we recognize that only the nuclear laborato-
ries have the technical        expertise     for determining    the appro-
priate means for accomplishing           their respective    technical
objectives,     we believe that AEC should encourage greater use
by both LLL and LASL of those safe and feasible              testing
practices     that emanate from the competition         between the two
laboratories,      considering   the programmatic benefits         as well
as the costs of the practices.

RECOMMENDATIONS

      We recommend that, in view of the different practices
followed by LLL and LASL in the past with respect to under-
ground nuclear testing,  AEC:

                 1. Establish   procedures for      systematically     identifying
                    and evaluating    significant     differences    in laboratory
                    practices.

                 2. Solicit    formal   comments from LLL and l&L regarding
                    the advantages      and disadvantages of the different
                    practices.
                 3. Encourage the laboratories    to adopt those practices
                    which appear most appropriate    from both a program-
      *             matic and an economic standpoint.
        AEC agreed with our recommendations and advised us
that it would take the action necessary to ensure implemen-
tation.




                                  .




U.S       GAO.   W’ash.,   D.C.               28
c




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