Federal Regulatory Agency Profile Tagan Daly

Nuclear Facilities

Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board

Chairman: Sean Sullivan

Began in 1988, after 2 to 3 years of debates in Congress.

This board first began as just an idea, Congress questioned whether or not to assign an independent agency that was separate from the Department of Energy. There was a number of legislative proposals that reflected the belief that the adequate protection of public health and safety required the end of the continuing reliance on the Department of Energy's self-regulation. Many believed that an independent agency, like the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, was the best way to provide extra external safety.

There were many historical circumstances that produced pressures to move toward more external regulation, including the waning of the nuclear arms race, the lifting of the secrecy about the safety risks and environmental damage, and the major accidents involving nuclear technology. The worst accident, that led directly to the development of The Board, was the Chernobyl disaster, occurring on 26 April 1986. The Chernobyl disaster is known as the most disastrous nuclear power plant accident in history, both in terms of cost and casualties.

Chernobyl Nuclear Power Disaster

Duties and Responsibilities

Paid for by the Government, the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board is an independent organization within the executive branch of the United States Government, chartered with the responsibility of providing recommendations and advice to the President and the Secretary of Energy regarding public health and safety issues at Department of Energy defense nuclear facilities.

Current Issues Addressed

In 2003, the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board focused its technical nuclear safety oversight on four interdependent, strategic areas of concentration:

  • Nuclear Weapons Operations
  • Nuclear Material Processing and Stabilization
  • Nuclear Facilities Design and Infrastructure
  • Nuclear Safety Programs and Analysis

At the time, there were many projects that involved Board oversight. For example:

  • The Tritium Extraction Facility, then under construction at the Savannah River Site, to process irradiated targets;
  • The Hanford Waste Treatment Plant, four major nuclear facilities in the design and construction phase, to pre-treat and vitrify the high-level waste from the Hanford waste storage tanks
  • The Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility, in the design phase at the Y–12 National Security Complex, to provide long term consolidated storage for all highly enriched uranium materials at the site








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