b'P ROVING THE P RINCIPLEtest results. What was the point of an core cooling system (ECCS) engineering contract. As Bill Ginkel said at theexperiment if it used the wrong parts, should be so foolproof that nuclear fuel time, the AEC was looking for upgrad-the wrong materials, and met the wrong would never have a chance to melt. If ed engineering, standards, codes andspecifications? Results could never be anything was to be researched, it should guides, documentation, plant reliability,duplicated. The project was about ten be these engineering preventatives. 2 0 and quality level of performance.percent complete, and the reactors Absorbing Phillips into the corporationeighty-ton pressure vessel had been Shaw felt that standards and criteria, was intended to strengthen overall man-fabricated. Nevertheless, Shaw stopped combined with experience and good agement of NRTS programs. Aerojetthe work to regroup and do the job engineering judgment would protect continued as the majority partner. 21right. Quality assurance hit the LOFT public safety. He sided with those whoproject. The experiment was going to felt it was possible to prevent accidents Personnel layoffs soon followed andbecome much more complex. 19 by building reliable back-up systems continued into 1971. Idaho scientistsdefense-in-depth. Understanding the wrote angry letters to the Idaho con-But not immediately. Forward motion moment-by-moment progress of an gressional delegation, blaming LOFTon LOFT stalled while contending accident that would never happen was a problems on poor policy direction andforces within AEC Headquarters settled waste of money. bungled management from Washington.their differencessometimes at a Some people thought Shaw was rob-leisurely pace. The issue of power plant As the 1960s wore on, the debate con- bing LOFT funds to support his greatersiting had divided the regulatory and tinued. The regulatory staff had no interest in breeder reactor development.development arms of the AEC. With independent control of a research bud- Aerojet hired new people for the LOFTtheir low confidence in the utilities get, so their needs for research results project at the same time it was lettingproposals for untested backup safety on LOCAs went unmet. Staff commit- go of Idaho people. The deterioratingsystems, the regulators were reluctant tees formed, talked, and dissolved. At situation at the NRTS.continues toto allow power plants close to cities, the same time, applications kept com- worsen, wrote one employee tothe load centers. On the development ing in for review; the regulators needed Senator Len Jordan. In a departure fromside, Shaw, the commissioners, and the the results of LOFT-type experiments previous custom, the new LOFT workJCAE resisted imposing excessive or and they didnt have them. center174 employeeswas movedunnecessary costs on utility companies. from the Site to the Rogers Hotel inThe grip of nuclear power on economic For LOFT the upshot of all the talk was Idaho Falls, which contributed furtherviability was too tenuous, and theya loss of support for the original experi- to resentment and misunderstanding. 22didnt want the fledgling industry to ments. Those advocating research onfalter because of unnecessary costs. the mechanism of the China Syndrome A belief arose that the Shaw/Aerojetultimately were disappointed. Aside managers were autocratic and vindic-Related to the siting issue, a diff e re n c e from Shaws determination to make tive, eliminating people who dissented of opinion emerged on how toor LOFT a showcase for new quality from the official point of view. Thewhether toresearch the China assurance procedures, the project drift- Post-Registercalled for the congres- Syndrome. One view was that the AEC ed. People were laid off. Work stopped, sional delegation to rescue the NRTSshould confront it directly: test it, under- started, stopped. Funds were held back from the poor AEC management thatstand it, characterize it, and learn how to or stinted, even though they had been was causing both the layoffs and sci-make it inherently impossible. This had appropriated. entific disillusionment at the Site.been one purpose of the original test Governor Cecil Andrus made a similarplan for the LOFT experiment. The The AEC desired to see improved appeal. We can ill afford the loss, he other view was that this was costly and accountability in management, so in wrote of the layoffs. 23u nnssay. The China Syndrome 1969 Phillips joined Aerojet and Alliede cershould simply be prevented. Emerge as a minority partner in the operatingn c y1 8 0'