Re: Nuclear Power

From: Chuck Kuecker (
Date: Thu Mar 16 2000 - 05:14:15 MST

At 12:57 AM 3/16/2000 -0500, John K Clark wrote:

> > Plutonium in the IFR would never leave the containment.
>Maybe, but I wouldn't bet my life on it.

The reprocessing plant is on site. It is well sealed and obviously would be
protected by security systems or guards. Entry would be a death sentence
for anyone seeking to steal materials. The real beauty of the IFR scheme is
that none of the fuel, waste, or reprocessed fuel ever leaves the
containment while it still contains fissionable materials.

(waste reduction)

>How is that going to work? OK, a neutron might turn a cobalt 60
>atom into a harmless isotope of nickel but a neutron could also
>turn U238 into plutonium or cause U235 to fission and produce
>more cobalt 60, or turn common potassium into potassium 40.

Some radioactive isotopes thus produced are commercially useful. Cobalt 60
is used in food sterilization, etc.

The IFR would never completely solve the issue of radioactive waste, but
would greatly simplify the problem. Besides, what makes radioactive waste
any worse than many organic chemicals that our industry and military
produce in megaton lots? A little intelligence goes a long way here.

The volume of high level waste from power plants is tiny compared to the
slag and ash produced by even the cleanest coal burners. This alone makes
the problem much easier to handle.

>Getting rid of weapons grade plutonium in power plants might be a good idea
>but you don't need a breeder for that.

A few years ago, the local power company, Commonwealth Edison, came out
with a plan to burn something like 5% Pu in their plants. They might as
well advocated burning nuns and orphans from the public and media outcry.
PC thought says the only way to get rid of Pu is to spend billions making
it into glass bricks and burying it over some water table out in Nevada,
next to a fault line.

Uranium resources are finite. The breeder simply extends the natural
stockpile. Why throw away the major part of the fuel?

>Thousands of tons of plutonium exist on the earth and more is made every day,
>but most of it is mixed in with other extremely lethal radioactive waste
>so it's
>very hard to work with without separating it out in a chemical
>reprocessing plant.
>It only takes a few pounds to make a bomb so I want it hard to work with,
>I don't
>want a reprocessing plant.

How are the French doing it? So far, I have heard only about terrorists
getting access to fissionables from places like the old USSR. Never heard
of a problem in France. Of course, it's the kind of news a government would
probably want to suppress...

Once we get a viable fusion system running, we can retire fission to an
honorable place in history, as we should already have retired coal burning
power plants.

Chuck Kuecker

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