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Herschel Specter

RBR Consultants, Inc.

Areas of Expertise:

I am a professional engineer with over 50 years of experience in the electric power industry. After graduating from MIT and serving as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army, I started my career in physics, thermal hydraulics, and heat transfer. In 1965, I joined the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) where I established national containment acceptance criteria. Later, as the AEC licensing manager for the Indian Point 3 (IP3) Plant, I completed its safety review, wrote the safety evaluation report, and presented my results before the Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards (ACRS). This led to the licensing of this plant. I was then selected by AEC Commissioner Doub to serve at diplomat rank at the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, Austria (1974-1979). I led the efforts of some the world’s outstanding nuclear design experts. We produced a series of international nuclear design safety standards.

I returned in 1979 to the Department of Energy where I worked on the safety of our Defense Nuclear Systems. In 1981 the New York Power Authority (NYPA) offered me the position of Manager of an adjudicatory hearing defending IP3. I developed the technical strategy for this case and wrote major portions of the testimony presented to the court. Some of my material was published in the NY Times. This case was successfully concluded in 1985.

Later, as Technical Advisor to NYPA’s Executive Vice President, I was asked by the Department of Energy to chair a national committee on emergency planning. Our final report was forwarded to Congress. I also chaired NUMARC’s Task Force on Emergency Planning. Our NUMARC report (NUMARC/NESP-005) was distributed to all U.S. nuclear utilities. I was a guest lecturer at Harvard for over five years on emergency planning. I also directed NYPA’s efforts on the hardened vent issue, saving the company over one million dollars. As part of this effort I discovered that the NRC’s cost/benefit equation was incorrect. I then worked with EPRI to provide the correct formulation.

In the source term area I directed NYPA’s computer code development for severe accident analysis. I presented results before the American Physical Society, the ACRS, and the NRC. I served on a DOE source term committee and was a principal speaker at an ANS Executive Conference on source terms. In 1987, I conducted a major review of the NRC’s NUREG-1150, gave testimony to NRC expert panels and to the American Nuclear Society’s Special Committee on Source Terms. I published source term papers in “Nuclear Engineering and Design” and elsewhere.

In 1992 I initiated a national effort on “Risk-Based Regulation” (RBR) and presented this concept to all five NRC Commissioners at a public hearing. Risk based regulation has become the centerpiece for modernizing the nuclear regulatory process at the NRC and within the nuclear industry. I have written fundamental papers on this subject, assisted EPRI in initiating its program on risk-based regulation, appeared before national regulatory and industry groups, been a guest lecturer and invited international speaker, chaired industry committees on this subject and have been an active member on others. In 1993 I wrote the ANS Policy Statement on RBR.

In addition to my RBR activities, I have published extensively on other nuclear safety issues, on the environment, and on energy policy matters. I have served on an editorial board of an international energy journal.

Recent Posts by Herschel Specter

Recent Comments by Herschel Specter

  • "To Jane Twitmyer RE; Transmission challenges in high renewable energy scenarios. I believe you have misunderstood the issue I raised about challeng" on Can We Find a Future for Coal?
  • "To Jane Twitmyer: Sorry Jane, but you did not answer the questions put to you. A simple YES/No reply would suffice for question 1. Dawn Santoianni's " on Can We Find a Future for Coal?
  • "Reply to Dan Miller: All sources of energy are subsidized to some degree. The arguments you make against coal could also be made, even more emphatica" on Can We Find a Future for Coal?
  • "Further responses to Jane Twitmyer. You have argued that solar energy is cost competitive in many locations in mainland US and to support your st" on Can We Find a Future for Coal?
  • "In response to Jane Twitmyer:: Your example of solar and wind as being cost competitive in Hawaii actually undercuts the overall renewable energy c" on Can We Find a Future for Coal?
  • "This discussion of the future of coal might benefit from a broader perspective. Burning fossil fuels in power plants contributes about 32% of our GHG " on Can We Find a Future for Coal?
  • "Dear Jane, I look forward to reading the material you referenced. As to the article in the Economist, it may be rather challenging to some of its" on Will There Be Sufficient Electricity?
  • "Dear Dan, Here are some further thoughts about the fee and dividend process you have discussed. I accept that it may be possible to redistribute the " on Will There Be Sufficient Electricity?
  • "Dear Jane, Thank you for the links to other references. I look forward to reading them. California does present a good example of what can be acco" on Will There Be Sufficient Electricity?
  • "Dear Jack, Re: your comment 4.5: Here is a partial response to your thoughtful addition to this important ongoing discussion. If you google OECD - "" on Will There Be Sufficient Electricity?