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7 Comments

  1. At about 1:57 there is a scan across the control room in the video. I see a computer, printer and monitor that look to be around 1990 vintage.

  2. I hear a lot of poo pooing of more interesting and sustainable reactor technology by the established nuclear power guard. You’d think of all people they would know better.

    This research is worth it. Not just for the space program either. Intermittent Renewables are having a lot more problems than anyone was led to believe and it is looking like we will be needing more nuclear power resources if a serious effort to get off fossil fuels is to be made.

    In addition fusion research probably needs to be moved back to the US. Im afraid the more level headed science oversight in Europe is giving way to the corrupt politics, and environmentally questionable policies of the scientifically incompetent Greens.

  3. While that’s an interesting video, I have to take a bit of umbrage with the part at the end – I think trying to conflate the shutting down of the FFTF with that person’s daughter’s death from cancer a bit overstates the impact of shutting down the reactor, and is a bit propagandistic. Even if there had been more cancer funding, and the FFTF remains operational, it’s far from guaranteed her daughter would still be alive. She might feel that way, as grieving people are often prone to such sorts of thoughts, but I find it a bit irresponsible of the film producers to include that.

    That said, just how far gone is FFTF? Could it be fairly quickly and cheaply restored and brought back into operation, or has it basically been completely dismantled?

  4. Another nail in the coffin of FFTF was an example of the kind of disgusting politics that is rampant in the US. The Secretary of Energy at the time was Bill Richardson. He was handed the final decision to start up or shut down FFTF based on an extensive EIS. This was just about the time he announced he was going to run for Governor of New Mexico, and one of the alternatives to FFTF that was being proposed was to build a new Liquid Sodium Reactor somewhere, most likely New Mexico (mostly for the purpose of medical isotope production).
    So it is generally believed that Mr. Richardson made the decision to shutter FFTF in hopes that his state would get the lucrative new Reactor.
    In the end, no one has one.

    1. The Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS–0310) and Record of Decision was signed by Secretary Richardson on his last day. It decided that Accelerator Transmutation of Waste (ATW/LANL) would follow, isotopes would be produced by others, and Pu-238 could be made elsewhere. Subsequently, ATW collapsed, isotopes supplied by importers are unavailable and/or are in short supply, and Pu-238 for space missions is/was purchased from Russia and scarcity jeopardizes future missions. Earlier Sec Richardson had made a deal with the French CEA for fast reactor R&D using FFTF. The extensive Japanese nuclear fuel experiments in FFTF were lost. The extensive irradiations of prototypical IFR metal fuel was not inspected, etc. The Decision continued to “deactivation” of the FFTF which sits – under care and maintenance.

  5. I had no idea this facility existed. Coincidentally, I just read this week a new government policy to reimburse hospitals an extra $10 is they could show the radiation cancer treatments used came from isotopes produced with low enriched as opposed to highly enriched uranium. The extra $10 was not enough of an incentive for any hospitals to bother of course, but the thought behind the policy was to make a small inroad in an anti-proliferation policy.

    It’s too bad this facility was closed so soon. Practically speaking, it was brand new. What a shame.

  6. The FFTF is officially in a de-activated state. This means that all hazardous materials and energy sources have been removed or shut-off. All systems are inerted. In this mode, it is recoverable. The referenced ‘hole’ is about 3/4″ in diameter and was carefully positioned and accomplished for preservation at a non-pressure boundary. Litigation assured that proper process be performed to decommission in the future. This has not been completed. Several business plans have been developed since shutdown which show positive financial outcome including payments into final decommissioning funds for use when its true lifetime mission is completed. These were stopped simply by politics and a political transfer of facility from DOE-NE to DOE-EM. The latter has no focus on development, only tear-down or flattening.

    Several US advanced reactor research efforts in both public and private sector are now forced to rely on foreign resources such as Russia. A Pacific Northwest private sector effort is directly submitting test materials to Russia. That’s work that should be done on US soil and except for politics, in the FFTF.

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