Thursday, March 01, 2007
Nuclear Power Research (ONLY) at Los Alamos?
Research proposal gets public airing
Energy program also involves nuclear recycling and an advanced reactor
By Andy Lenderman, The New Mexican
Los Alamos is among six potential places where new research on advanced nuclear power might be located. A public meeting is scheduled for this evening in Los Alamos to discuss and take public comment on the proposal, known as the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership.
That program involves three new facilities — a research center, a nuclear fuel recycling center and an advanced nuclear reactor that would burn old nuclear fuel that’s been reprocessed into something usable.
Los Alamos is on the list for potential research sites only. The recycling center and reactor would be located at one of 11 places, including Hobbs, a report in the federal register shows.
Proponents say it would take care of lots of partially consumed nuclear fuel that would otherwise need to be buried and generate lots of electricity in an energydriven economy. Critics say the program is a waste of money and could make wherever it’s located a nuclear waste dump.
“Our society has a great need for nuclear power — a safe, emissions-free, and affordable source of energy — and GNEP puts us on that path,” Assistant Secretary Dennis Spurgeon of the Department of Energy said in a news release.
“It will encourage expansion of domestic and foreign nuclear energy production while reducing the risk of nuclear proliferation.”
A flier released by Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety this week encourages people to speak against the project.
“Communities living near GNEP would not greatly benefit economically from the program, and would be forced to deal with the program’s hazardous effects on human and environmental health,” the flier reads.
Today, roughly 20 percent of the country’s electricity comes from nuclear power plants.
Tonight’s meeting is part of the environmental impact statement required by the project.
Contact Andy Lenderman at 995-3827 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
IF YOU GO
What: Meeting to discuss the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership
When: 6 to 9 p.m. today Where: Hilltop House Best Western, 400 Trinity Drive, Los Alamos
Before Chernobyl, Soviet scientific officials were optimistic about the safety of building a reactor in Moscow’s Red Square. Their optimism proved a tragic mistake. On April 26, 1986, the chain reaction in the Ukraine’s Chernobyl reactor became out of control. Thirty people were killed and 135,000 people evacuated. Legislators should consider this when they blindly accept the words of experts with a vested interest in the status quo. This blind acceptance has resulted in nearly fifty years of multi-billion dollar hot plasma and fast reactor research without any significant commercial outcome. Such a reactor is the fast-spectrum Advanced Burner Reactor - a key element of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership.
A process to safely convert about 95% of nuclear waste into an emission-free fuel source is proposed. The process, involving a high flux sub-critical reactor and a proliferation-resistant fuel cycle, will consume depleted uranium and plutonium without requiring a new fuel reprocessing technique. A few changes must be incorporated into conventional reactors to eliminate the possibility of fuel meltdown and the nuclear reactor explosions associated with critical reactor designs.
This effort will produce the following benefits:
1) A certified design of the nuclear waste transmutation module could be developed in 5 years for less than $50M.
2) A compact power module, which would not be radioactive when launched, could serve as a vital component in deep space and missile defense systems.
3) An inexpensive nuclear reactor test/training facility (about $150,000), which is free from fissile material, could play an essential role in the research and educational changes needed to advance efficient and environmentally responsible nuclear technology.
Industry support is essential for us. You can help in two ways: first, by making your research facilities available for non-radioactive concept feasibility studies, and second, by contacting your representatives to lobby for conversion of the Yucca Mountain storage into underground electricity and/or hydrogen production facilities, which would be a major step in improving the safety and security of the nation’s energy source.
If you need more information, please call Anatoly Blanovsky at 323-650-7739 or e-mail email@example.com.