Margaret Harding, Lisa Stiles, Dan Yurman and Rod Adams talk about the political maneuverings related to nuclear plant loan guarantees, the politics related to nuclear fuel recycling, and the prospects for significant deployment of smaller nuclear power plants in the United States.
Rod discusses the evidence that he documented on Atomic Insights with regard to the specific kind of plutonium used during the often referenced 1962 test at the Nevada Test Site. People opposed to plutonium recycling from commercial nuclear fuel often point to that test as proof positive that plutonium from power reactors can be used as raw material for a bomb, but the historical evidence proves that the material was far closer to “weapons-grade” that has previously been acknowledged. It bore no isotopic resemblance to the plutonium that can be extracted from modern commercial reactors, which remains exposed to neutrons for a much longer period of time.
That long neutron exposure produces plutonium that is a complex mix of isotopes, some of which have characteristics that prevent them from being useful in constructing a weapon. These plutonium isotopes (Pu-238, Pu-239, Pu-240 and Pu-241) cannot be easily separated from each other. In fact, the effort would be significantly more difficult than separating the two isotopes of uranium from each other in an enrichment facility.
Recycling programs involving used commercial nuclear fuel do not represent a nuclear weapons proliferation threat. Any technically competent person who claims that it does is not telling the truth and are most likely using this untruth as an argument against the widespread deployment of nuclear energy production plants because they favor increased use of a different, competitive energy source.
The discussion also turned to the economic potential for smaller reactors that can be installed in series on a common site. Dan, who has previously been a bit skeptical on The Atomic Show when the topic of small reactors has come up, has started to see the financial benefits of being able to build nuclear power plants in smaller steps, each of which can generate revenue as the step is completed.
At the end of the show, we briefly discussed fund raising ideas for an interesting video project to document the experience of two high school students who took a pro-nuclear energy position in a high school debate competition all the way to the national finals. They obtained much of their supporting information from nuclear pioneers/experts including Ted Rockwell, Len Koch, Charles Till and Robert Schenter. The video envisions the debaters obtaining face to face interviews with these pioneers. If you are interested in helping to support the travel and production expenses for this project, please send me an email at rod(underscore)adams(at symbol)atomicinsights(dot)com.
Comments are always welcome.