1. About this time of year in 2007, I was playing reporter in Silicon Valley.  Like you, I drove from the east coast.  Hope to get more details!

  2. “Derek immediately got it when I told him how frequently people mention our three major accidents (TMI, Chernobyl and Fukushima), saying he wished that his industry could name their major accidents — each year — on a single hand.”

    Another point I often make is that six people died in the nuclear industry’s third worst accident (Fukushima), none due to radiation exposure. Then I ask how many people died in the third worst ever fossil fuel industry accident – more than six I bet.

    1. Chernobyl was the nuclear industry’s worst accident — if Fukushima was the third-worst (and it was clearly worse than TMI), which was the second-worst?

  3. Wish I was there. I mean, it’s only one state over. Right there, just a rock’s throw. I’m with you on preferring the drive over airport “security.”

    As for your unplanned route home, try I-10 on over to El Paso. Your diesel Jetta (right?) will move just fine at maybe 15 MPH over the limit, just to make the triple digits for fun. (I do not condone this. Neither do I discourage it.) Turn north on I-25’s genesis (AKA a big chunk of the Camino Real of early North American History– meets up with the Santa Fe Trail) in Las Cruces, then east on I-40 at the “Big I” in Albuquerque. Take Eubank exit south briefly to the National Atomic Museum about two miles from my office. Look for the Atlas rocket, a B-52, a B-29, and the sail of a 6-something or other boomer. Be my guest there.

    Also, if you keep your professional boots on, I will try to provide a tour of our radiation detection lab(s), and a “windshield tour” of nearby facilities.

    Spread some SARI love while you’re there.

  4. Very good travelogue! I rather envy your tour!

    Hopefully not too off topic, but I just noticed a new History/Science Channel show called “What History Forgot” or such, where they mention obscure and unmentioned “gotcha” facts behind the popular ones, like the Boy Scouts founder was once a lying British spy, etc. I’m waiting for this show to “expose” how many were killed in during the earthquake media madness with Fukushima — or how many were ever killed worldwide in nuclear plant accidents from day one nearly 60 years ago despite all the accident megadeath predictions and public views that nuclear plants are giant eggshells that just can’t wait to blow.

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

  5. Regarding “The FFTF may have been forcibly shutdown, but the people assigned to the task carefully ensured that it was laid up in a condition that would allow a restart.”

    My understanding is that just the opposite actually took place: In essence, DoE sabotaged FFTF so that it could not ever be restarted again.
    They did this by drilling a hole in the bottom of the reactor vessel, to drain the sodium coolant.
    This hole cannot be welded shut in a way acceptable to the NRC, because holes in equipment comprising the primary heat transfer circuit – including the reactor vessel – must be closed using full penetration welds with 100% radiography.
    Since there is no access from the inside of the reactor vessel, the hole cannot be welded shut in a way acceptable to the NRC, therefore there is no possibility of ever re-starting FFTF (at least not in any way that makes financial sense).

    Apparently, according to DoE’s report on weapons plutonium disposition, April 2014, it would be cheaper to build a new fast neutron reactor than to re-start FFTF.

    Tables 6-1 and 6-2 from DoE’s report on weapons plutonium disposition, April 2014.



    US DoE Report of the Plutonium Disposition Working Group:
    Analysis of Surplus Weapon‐Grade Plutonium Disposition Options April 2014


    ” Although the reactor operated with a MOX fuel core, the same ternary UPu-10Zr fuel proposed for use in the ADR has already been irradiated in the FFTF. The process for transitioning from a MOX core to a U-Pu-10Zr metal alloy core was underway when the FFTF was shutdown.”

    ” Specific outcomes for Option III include:
    • Near-term disposition capability
    – Initiates disposition in 5 years using restarted FFTF ($1.4B to restart)
    – Fulfills the current PMDA criteria for 0.3 MT/yr throughput; throughput increases to 0.6 MT/yr if only the requirement for self-protection is used
    • Low upfront cost, $1.4B for FFTF restart and $0.1B for restart of the FMF at INL (0.3 MT/yr throughput)
    • Net estimated annual operating costs less than $200M/yr
    • Option for electricity generation (additional $300M capital), for on-site use

    ” To help reduce these and other identified risks, the overall cost and schedule for the FFTF restart should be reviewed by an Independent Review Team (IRT).”

  6. Re: LNT. It looks to me that LNT was only ever accepted as a “working hypothesis” because it was easy to math. It’s linear, additive and there’s no threshold. We can’t make it easier than that.

    LNT was considered a convenient pragmatic relationship but not a model based on scientific data. In the 1960s, the International Commission of Radioprotection (ICRP) introduced it because it allows the addition of sequential irradiation delivering low or high doses of radiation received by an individual whatever the dose rate and the fractionation. Thus it greatly simplifies accounting in radioprotection

    Dose-effect relationship and estimation of the carcinogenic effects of low doses of ionizing radiation, by Maurice Tubiana, André Aurengo, 2005

    An LNT alternative probably has to be easy to math too. Just take away the “no-threshold”.

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