Hearings and Business Meetings

Nov 10 2005

10:30 AM

Full Committee Nominations Hearing

SD-366 Energy Committee Hearing Room 10:30 AM

The Honorable Edward Sproat

Director, Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, Department of Energy







NOVEMBER 10, 2005

Mr. Chairman, Senator Bingaman, and Members of the Committee, I am sincerely honored to appear before you today as the President’s nominee to serve as the Director of the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management at the Department of Energy. I am fully aware of the challenges that face the person who holds this position regarding the disposition of the Nation’s spent nuclear fuel and high level radioactive waste, and I am deeply appreciative of the President’s and Secretary Bodman’s confidence in my abilities to meet those challenges.

I would like to introduce my wife Heidi Sproat who likes to describe herself as a native Californian transplanted by marriage. She has been a true friend and companion in our 26 years of marriage and deserves my endless devotion and thanks for running our family while I was in South Africa. Also with us are our three children: Kristen who is a third class midshipman at the United States Naval Academy, Eric who is a junior at Conestoga High School, and Keith who is a freshman at Malvern Preparatory School. Heidi and I are very proud of all three of them.

I am a Registered Professional Engineer who has worked in the nuclear energy industry for most of my career. Early in my career, I was in charge of the design and licensing of the electrical systems for the Limerick Generating Station which gave me the opportunity to develop the design, the licensing strategy and the documents required by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to gain an Operating License for that nuclear plant.

In the early 1990’s, I led a major quality-focused culture change initiative across Philadelphia Electric Company as we prepared for deregulation that resulted in significant improvements in company performance and culture. I also held the positions of Director of Engineering and Director of Maintenance at Limerick, gaining significant experience in nuclear operations and leading technical organizations to high levels of performance.

In the late 1990’s,  as the Director of Engineering for PECO Nuclear, I was the Design Authority for our fleet of nuclear plants and was involved in a number of interactions with the NRC on multi-discipline design issues. As Director of Strategic Programs, one of my responsibilities was managing the preparation of the license renewal application for our Peach Bottom nuclear plant, which was one of the first to receive its renewed Operating License from the NRC. I was also tasked by our Chief Executive Officer to try to reach a settlement with the Department of Energy regarding the spent fuel standard contract for our Peach Bottom plant. I was the lead PECO Energy negotiator in that effort which eventually resulted in the first settlement between the Department and a nuclear utility.

In 2000, as a Vice President of Exelon Generation, I represented Exelon on the Board of Directors of Pebble Bed Modular Reactor Pty. Limited (PBMR). This company, located in the Republic of South Africa, is currently developing a modular high temperature gas reactor for electricity generation. In 2001, Exelon was asked by the Board of PBMR to allow me to become the Chief Operating Officer (COO) for one year. I assumed that position in January 2002 and held it until December of that year when I retired from Exelon. As COO, I led the organization in finalizing a preliminary design for the standard PBMR power plant along with completing credible cost estimates, project schedules and a business case for project launch that has been accepted by the South African government. Since that time, I have been working with the former Chief Executive Officer of Exelon to lead a consortium to design and build the Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP).

Senators, I strongly share the belief of President Bush and Secretary Bodman that nuclear energy must be a part of the energy mix for this country in the future. It is the only near-term source of carbon emission-free base load electricity that is available to us. This country’s ability to continue to use and expand the utilization of this resource in order to enhance our energy security is directly dependent upon establishing and safely operating a national spent fuel repository as authorized and directed by Congress. That is why I have expressed interest in this position and I hope to have the opportunity to help the Department of Energy carry out that directive.

If confirmed, I would work with my Administration colleagues, the Congress, and other stakeholders to address the challenging issues that confront us with respect to spent nuclear fuel and high level radioactive waste. Among them are the repository design and license application, the transportation plan, the skills and competencies of the OCRWM organization, and the accumulating potential government liability associated with the unmet contractual obligations to move spent fuel. Although these issues are difficult, I believe it is critically important to our Nation’s energy security that we successfully address them.

If confirmed, I would approach the duties of my position with six values that I believe must be held by any person involved with nuclear power: Safety, Integrity, Quality, Accountability, Teamwork, and Continuous Improvement. If confirmed, I will reinforce these values both within the OCRWM organization and its contractors.

Regarding the upcoming licensing activities for the project, Congress has made it clear that the stakeholders are to have every opportunity to participate in a transparent process. The people who are going to be affected by this project both within the State of Nevada and along the transportation routes have every right to expect that they will get a chance to participate, learn, understand and influence how the spent fuel transportation and disposal system is going to work and impact them. My commitment to this Committee and to those stakeholders is that if confirmed, I will ensure that the OCRWM organization and its contractors fully embrace the NRC process that allows participation of the stakeholders in the licensing process and will be open to their good faith participation and feedback.

I am truly honored to have been nominated by the President for this position. I also recognize that success in this position will only be possible by close collaboration and cooperation with Congress and the States. If confirmed, I pledge to this Committee that I will keep you apprised of what is going on with this project and will welcome your ideas and feedback.

Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today, and I would be pleased to answer any questions you may have.