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  1. A few things that were brought up by Dr Burton Richter a few days ago that could complement the discussion:

    – Contrary to France, there is no long term plan for nuclear energy in the US. (That should be part of regulation, but from president to president things change in the US)

    – The 9 subcommittees on the DOE playfully mix policies and technical criteria. DOE should only deal with technical stuff

    And the gem:

    – Consider the fact that the DOE can, at one of its labs, go ahead with an experimental fission system that is not approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). After all, the DOE is supposed to develop new technologies, while the NRC is supposed to deal with things in the civilian nuclear world.

    In other words, the DOE labs don’t need NRC approval to make a 5MW version of TerraPower’s reactor. They could just go do it. But it’s so agonizing to get [lab] approval for that kind of thing. So political. Ultra-greens would say too dangerous and NRC has to approve it, and NRC would say it will look into it and it would take a decade.

    That’s the reason Nathan [Mhyrvold] and Bill Gates said, “Let’s build the first one in China.”

    1. Quoting Dr. Burton Richter, Daniel wrote:
      Consider the fact that the DOE can, at one of its labs, go ahead with an experimental fission system that is not approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

      There was a turf war about this 3 or 4 years about this very thing. DOE said “We can do this,” and NRC said “Over our dead bodies.”

      Of course, political expedience reigned, so the NRC won that round. It will take political leadership that is forward thinking to endure the slings and arrows that will surely come their way should they be so bold as to advance the cause of nuclear energy.

      1. @ Donb

        An interesting variation on the theme Security by Obscurity. The NRC throws rules that don’t exist at the DOE and the DOE stops what it is intended to do.

        This way, less innovation in the nuclear pipeline, less commercial space covered and for the NRC, that is increased security for all.

        An NRC moment.

  2. The list of pile pioneers is very interesting. Graves in the list, was the man standing right behind Slotin in the criticality accident, 3 feet from the source when Slotin was 1.5 feet away. He survived 19 years to the accident, dying of a stroke at 56. He had received enough radiation to impair his eye’s lens (seems to have been radiation induced cataract).

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