Nuclear Safety:

Concerns About the Nuclear Power Reactors in Cuba

RCED-92-262: Published: Sep 24, 1992. Publicly Released: Oct 15, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the status of the construction of two Soviet-designed nuclear power reactors in Cuba and allegations by former Cuban nuclear power officials that poor construction practices could affect safety of the nuclear reactors' operation.

GAO found that: (1) it is uncertain when Cuba's nuclear power reactors will become operational, because Cuba could not meet the financial terms set by Russia, and had to suspend construction; (2) construction of the first reactor is estimated to be 90 to 97 percent complete and the second reactor is about 20 to 30 percent complete; (3) five former Cuban nuclear power officials believed that problems exist that could affect the safe operation of the reactors, such as the lack of a system to check reactor components, defective welds in the civil construction, and questionable training of future operators; (4) State Department officials have acknowledged the United States would prefer the nuclear reactors not be completed; (5) Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) officials could not verify the Cuban emigres allegation of safety deficiencies, but stated that the deficiencies could affect safety; and (6) the United States Geological Survey (USGS) has not assessed the risk of an earthquake at the reactor site in Cuba, because USGS does not have access to the information necessary for that type of analysis.

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