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seemslikeadream Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-26-05 06:33 PM
Original message
Experimental Nuclear Fuel on the Way to SC

It's causing debate over whether the substance is a target for terrorism or a safe source of energy. MOX is a nuclear fuel made from weapons-grade plutonium.

After a shipment arrives at the Charleston
Naval Weapons Station, it will be transported by truck to the Catawba Nuclear Station in York County.

Scientists and environmentalists disagree on the health and safety risks of radioactive plutonium and plutonium-based fuel.

Still, the federal government is moving ahead with plans to turn plutonium from nuclear warheads into a product that could run power plants.

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stillcool Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-26-05 06:37 PM
Response to Original message
1. ...and then there is this...
little article re: Quotas on gas, rationing, etc..
looks like the cat is out of the bag.
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whistle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-26-05 06:40 PM
Response to Original message
2. Weapons grade plutonium is for weapons and nothing else....
...because I don't believe it goes both ways, otherwise why is the U.S. so bent on the former USSR countries destroying those nuclear weapons materials:


August 26, 1998

Reactor-Grade Plutonium Can be Used to Make Powerful and
Reliable Nuclear Weapons: Separated plutonium in the fuel
cycle must be protected as if it were nuclear weapons.


Richard L. Garwin(1)
Senior Fellow for Science and Technology
Council on Foreign Relations, New York
Draft of August 26, 1998
FAX: (914) 945-4419; Email: rlg2 at

As access to technology advances throughout the world, the
barrier to the acquisition of nuclear weapons by terrorists
or nations is more and more the barrier to weapon-usable
fissionable material-- traditionally high-enriched uranium
or "weapon-grade" plutonium. Even a modest nuclear weapon
delivered by aircraft, missile, ship, or truck can threaten
the lives of 100,000 people. Therefore it is important to
understand whether reactor-grade plutonium from the nuclear
fuel cycle-- typically 65% fissile (by thermal neutrons)
compared with 93% fissile for weapon-grade material-- can
readily be used to create nuclear weapons. Unfortunately,
the answer is that it can be so used. The conclusion,
therefore, is that separated reactor-grade plutonium must be
guarded in just the same way as if it were weapon-grade
plutonium if it is not to contribute greatly to the spread
and possible use of nuclear weaponry.

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The Doctor. Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-26-05 06:48 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. yes it can be... but with a little work
"There was a fair degree of consensus that safe plutonium storage will be necessary for a number of years. Alexander Dmitriev for instance, did not consider that Russia would be in a position to start burning weapons grade plutonium for at least 10 years, while Victor Murogov agreed that weapons plutonium utilisation in civilian reactors in Russia is difficult at the moment and that research into MOX utilisation in the VVER-1000 will be the starting point. "
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papau Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-26-05 06:51 PM
Response to Original message
4. more radioactive replaces more fissionable - so that is a "good"??
The mixed oxide fuel proposed by Duke COGEMA Stone & Webster (DCS) is a blend of plutonium dioxide and depleted uranium dioxide that will be used as fuel in commercial nuclear power plants. Depleted uranium is a byproduct of the uranium enrichment process. Plutonium dioxide will be extracted from retired nuclear weapons and other sources of surplus plutonium. The purpose of manufacturing MOX fuel is to meet the goals of the U.S. Department of Energys Surplus Plutonium Disposition Program. Under this program, DOE will reduce the inventory of fissile material from nuclear weapons by converting approximately 34 metric tons of surplus weapons grade plutonium into MOX fuel for use in commercial nuclear power plants. The process of converting the fissile material into MOX fuel renders the plutonium less attractive for use in nuclear weapons. In some countries, MOX fuel is manufactured by recycling plutonium from spent nuclear fuel. That is not the case in the proposed MOX program in the U.S.

grade plutonium is the percentage of the different isotopes of plutonium. Weapons-grade plutonium contains more of the isotope plutonium-239 than reactor-grade, while reactor-grade plutonium has more plutonium-240 than weapons-grade. Weapons-grade plutonium is more fissionable but reactor-grade is more radioactive. However, both require safe handling and that will be the focus of NRC's review.

The United States does not currently reprocess nuclear fuel (a small quantity of used fuel was reprocessed at the West Valley site in the 1960s). Reprocessing of used fuel involves the chemical treatment of the fuel to separate unused uranium and plutonium from radioactive fission products. Theoretically, uranium could be recycled through an enrichment facility and some recovered plutonium could be used in new fuel assemblies. The DOE has stated that it has no capability and no plans to reprocess used reactor or MOX fuel.

NRC expects no significant difference in the way used MOX fuel and used uranium fuel is stored. After fuel has been in a reactor for two operating cycles, the fuel is stored in fuel pools or storage casks located at each reactor site. In the United States, used fuel will remain in interim storage until a high-level waste storage facility is available. For more information, see Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel.

If a Federal high-level waste storage facility is licensed, used fuel assemblies, including MOX fuel assemblies (if available), would be packaged directly into special containers designed for the high-level waste storage facility. The containers would be shipped by truck or rail to the high-level waste storage facility, using NRC-approved shipping packages. High-level waste includes used reactor fuel and liquid wastes resulting from milling. Used fuel from nuclear power plants is one of the primary sources of high-level waste. For more information, see High-Level Waste Disposal, the draft Yucca Mountain Review Plan, and the Review of DOE's High-Level Waste Repository Site Recommendation.

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seemslikeadream Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-26-05 06:57 PM
Response to Original message
5. And the trucks can be driven by illegal aliens
Edited on Sat Mar-26-05 06:58 PM by seemslikeadream
Nuclear agency chided for hiring illegal aliens as contractors

:crazy: :nuke: :crazy: :nuke: :crazy: :nuke: :crazy: :nuke: :crazy: :nuke: :crazy: :nuke: :crazy: :nuke: :crazy: :nuke: :crazy: :nuke: :crazy: :nuke: :crazy: :nuke: :crazy: :nuke: :crazy: :nuke: :crazy:
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LiberallyInclined Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-26-05 07:18 PM
Response to Original message
6. pebble-bed reactors are THE way of the future for nuk-u-lar energy-
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megatherium Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-26-05 07:54 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. Yes indeed, however, the next nukes to be built will
be based on current technology. (These are likely to be under construction by the end of this decade.) Nukes are expensive to build but they have a reputation for being reliable sources of low-cost electricity once they are built. Nukes are not everyone's fave source of energy but the nuclear industry is expecting the choice (in about a decade) to boil down to coal and nuclear. They think utilities, and the public, will decide nuclear is better. The other main source of electricity in this country is natural gas, which was considered ideal a few years ago, but which has now become much more expensive (supply and prices are both problematic). The industry argues that renewables (hydro, wind, solar, biomass) are too expensive or too limited to be relied upon.

What seems to be shaping up for our energy near-future (10-20 year time frame) is continued reliance on coal (currently 50%), a rebirth of nuclear (now 20%), and an increasing role for wind (already competitive but sites for which are somewhat limited). On a longer time frame (30-40 years), solar and possibly fusion will win out.
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mom cat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-26-05 08:21 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. thanks for the info. I read recently that China is going full speed
ahead with pebble bed technology. They are planning modular construction so that the plants can be easily shipped and built in remote locations.This will also greatly reduce line loss in long distance transmissions.
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Boo Boo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-26-05 09:21 PM
Response to Original message
9. Yeah, there's a number of designs for
"failsafe" reactors that use plutonium pellets as fuel. I read an article about Hanford years ago, right after they shut it down, and I got the impression that there was shitloads of surplus plutonium left over.
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Massacure Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-26-05 11:50 PM
Response to Original message
10. Wouldn't it be easier to use it in a breeder reactor?
I'm sure Canada wouldn't mind getting rid of it for us.
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