Utility company plutonium?

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Richard Hull
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Utility company plutonium?

Post by Richard Hull » Thu Oct 21, 2004 5:28 pm

In the very interesting book, "The curve of Binding Energy", see posting

view.php?site=fusor&bn=fusor_books&key=1098295457

Reference is made to the continual reprocessing of nuclear fuels that was a daily ongoing process in the 1970's. The utilities would send their spent fuel assemblies to the GE reprocessing plant in Morris, IL. Here, they were sliced and diced and disolved in nitric acid. The upshot is that usable and recovered Uranium U235 would spill out as enriched UF6 and out of another spigot would dribble reactor bread Pu239 as its nitrate.

The book notes that this was returned to the utility and the materials stored by them? It was noted that thousands of kilograms were in the possession of the power utilities all over the U.S.

I would think the government would have long ago, (since this book was written), scooped this stuff up or purchased it from the utilities to get a handle on its whereabouts. The book sort of points to this as just another way that PU239 could be stolen or lost or pilfered.

I also assume that this plant and all fuel reprocessing has also long ago ended, as the utilities are just about at max capacity in their holding pools for spent fuel assemblies. (Which, by the way, are only 3% consumed according to the book.)

Interestingly they speak of the Plutonium turning point. A point at which the utilities would have enough on hand to use newer reactors scheduled for the nuclear energy future of the mid eigthies!? Evidently another still-born concept that didn't happen due to the 1979 three mile Island event knocking the gilding off the lilly.

Richard Hull
Progress may have been a good thing once, but it just went on too long. - Yogi Berra
Fusion is the energy of the future....and it always will be
Retired now...Doing only what I want and not what I should...every day is a saturday.

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Re: Utility company plutonium?

Post by 3l » Thu Oct 21, 2004 6:16 pm

Hi Richard:

It wasn't Three Mile Island that creamed it but a bunch of DOE
Clowns that told the peanut farmer that coal based oil and coal slurry pipelines wound be the way to go. That Plus Jimmy Carter's fear of plutonium and small countries getting the bomb thru diversion. Too bad he didn't consider that Big Bussiness would virtually hand the means of production to them. So the Canadians made the money on the sales of Candu Reactors to India ,Iran , and Pakistan. India and Pakistan got their A-bombs. Americans are left with this stupid policy that is dumb at best and failed miserably at worst. We have enough "plute" to service the country's electrical needs for at least one hundred years sitting in used fuel assemblies.

Happy Fusoring!
Larry Leins
Fusor Tech

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Re: Utility company plutonium?

Post by davidtrimmell » Thu Oct 21, 2004 6:58 pm

Hi Richard, I really doubt that the Government allowed any privetly held utility to hold any weapons grade Pu. It may be possible if it was done by one of the publicly owned utilities like TVA. But even there it would seem unlikely, but perhaps in the early days (1950's and maybe early '60's) when the AEC was more involved...

It is disturbing if you look at some of the Weapons sites like Hanford and Rocky Flats, and see what the MUF's (material unaccounted for) were. I know that at the Hanford Plutonium Finishing Plant in the early sixties had about 2 kilos per year unacounted for two years running, and they could not say it was lost in the system as it just wasn't there. The person they brought in to find the problem (and find the Pu!) ended up saying "...maybe it went out the stack." But stack monitoring and on site alpha monitoring never accounted for this...

Regards,

David Trimmell

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Re: Utility company plutonium?

Post by Richard Hull » Thu Oct 21, 2004 7:31 pm

Thanks for the replies Larry and Dave.

Larry is right on the Canucks makin' th' dough on the reactor boom.

Just like in China where R12 refrigerant is still in production and used almost exclusively after they bought most of Dupont's R12 line parts. We invent and then others bring to market. We always bite the bullet and let others profit. We outlaw processes here that others take over. We are self-assured we are doing that which is right only when we are cutting off our nose to spite our face.

Regarding the Plut holding; I would imagine that, ultimately, the government took it and gave the companies plut credits against the time they needed it as fuel in the coming 1980's plut energy switchover that never came.

A lot of the reactors they hyped in the mid seventies never came on line I bet, either. Like the High Temp reactors, etc.

The book is better in the second reading as you can catch more little details.

Richard Hull
Progress may have been a good thing once, but it just went on too long. - Yogi Berra
Fusion is the energy of the future....and it always will be
Retired now...Doing only what I want and not what I should...every day is a saturday.

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Re: Utility company plutonium?

Post by 3l » Thu Oct 21, 2004 10:13 pm

Hi David:

That stack was Isreal.
The CIA appropriated the plute all 2kg and sailed it to the coast of Isreal.
In fact nearly all the "MUF" was diverted to Isreal.
Where tragically it sank.
4 months later Isreal was a nucler power..go figure.
The DIA investigated the Hanford heist of nearly 12 kg of plute
but were pulled off the job by higher ups.
Same with the "fire" at Rocky Flats.
It is really an open secret...Tom Clancy wrote "Sum of all Fears around this incident in 1969.

Happy Fusoring!
Larry Leins
Fusor Tech

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Re: Utility company plutonium?

Post by Richard Hull » Mon Oct 25, 2004 2:44 am

A little more reading and some investigation on the power compnay plut.......

The government bought 100% of all power company recycled plut. It got sent to Hanford Wa. for Gov't use.

However..................in 1970 they refused to buy or store any more power company plutonium!!!! The power companies freaked!!!!! The plutonium was stored or sold to bonified foreign allies. Storage by the power companies was a frightening thing.

Many power companies used specially constructed State owned nuclear storehouses to send their Birdcages of useless Plut.

One story in the book. Tells of a New York State nuclear energy commision warehouse that was off in the boondocks with one man as the total staff there only 8 hours each day! It is estimated the metal building had over 2500 kilograms of Idle Plut there!!! I am assuming, again, that the government has ultimately picked up all of the stuff by now!!!

So there was a time when private companies scurried about to find safe haven for Plut from their recycled fuel that the government just wasn't interested in. (very unsettling)

On a few occassions back then as much as 20 kilograms of plut was sent out on a common carrier mixed in with other freight! This ultimately ended by law. It is still allowed to go via common carrier, but it must be the only thing on board the truck.

Richard Hull
Progress may have been a good thing once, but it just went on too long. - Yogi Berra
Fusion is the energy of the future....and it always will be
Retired now...Doing only what I want and not what I should...every day is a saturday.

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Re: Utility company plutonium?

Post by davidtrimmell » Mon Oct 25, 2004 4:23 am

So, who was doing the reprocessing? Westinghouse at Hanford? GE had the prime there previously and there was some bad feelings (same people, though...). Really the research reactors were the ones with special nuclear material just "sitting around". Although I remember my step-dad telling me about when he worked at Grand Gulf during startup, the first shipment of fuel just arrived and was off loaded at the time he was still able to just walk on and off site with little security. This was 1981, I think. Of course this was Port Gibson Miss.
"To beautiful to burn...” and all.

What one could do with 2 kilos of 99% Pu-239!

I prefer to think about the nice rainbow I saw today!

David Trimmell

PS. Any one who complies with the regs can ship whatever they want.

http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-colle ... -0025.html

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Re: Utility company plutonium?

Post by Richard Hester » Mon Oct 25, 2004 6:31 am

The was at one time private sector processing until the contamination debacle at West Valley, NY. Hopfully the Pu in the spent fuel rods has been well-larded with Pu240 to make it unattractive for weapons use...

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Re: Utility company plutonium?

Post by Richard Hull » Mon Oct 25, 2004 2:39 pm

The NY facility was massive and indeed did reprocess fuel rods for years! This was the primary reprocesser, but there were two others. GE operated the facilities. This maybe why the State of NY built the 70 foot by 160 foot storage building a hundred miles from the reprocessor. Many of the power companys just as soon leave their plut in NY in what they viewed as a safe facility. (which it was not.) All in all, pretty scary stuff.

The book continued on to note that the Atomic Energy act of 1946 included no role for civilian or private interests. Ike's Atoms for Peace program sought to share the atom with developing nations. The critics of the program labeled the effort "Kilowatts for Hottentots". They felt that putting a 50 megawatt nuclear plant in 1950 Zululand would be ridiculous. Who would plug in what!

The program also turned the AEC into not only a regulatory agency, but a booster and cheerleader for nuclear power in the U.S. This role would soon become its main function. The utilites were not keen on nuclear as the bill for startup was way more than what they were already selling.

The Eisenhower government could see an energy crunch in the future and knew that nuclear power would solve such problems if started soon. The government would insure the plants against hazards as no insurance company would touch the industry.

Still, the power utilities balked. What made the utilities say "oh, why didn't you say so in the first place" was the government's firm statement that if the utilities weren't going to go "nuclear" immediately, the government would plan to go "utility" immediately. This puckered up enough power company butt holes and they agreed to give nuclear a trial. Ultimately, most came to enjoy the power that was so heavily government subsidized. The plants paid back the power companies investments rather quickly and it looked as if all was roses.

Public opinion and three mile island really took the "happy" out of nuclear power and today we and the power companies are living off old reactors that should have been naturally replaced and shutdown years ago. It is a testament to the good engineering of the 60's and 70's that so many are still on line and pumping out energy onto the grid.

We need new nuclear plants desparately. We have the fuel, we have the need, but not the public's feel of need............YET.

Richard Hull
Progress may have been a good thing once, but it just went on too long. - Yogi Berra
Fusion is the energy of the future....and it always will be
Retired now...Doing only what I want and not what I should...every day is a saturday.

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Adam Szendrey
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Re: Utility company plutonium?

Post by Adam Szendrey » Mon Oct 25, 2004 4:01 pm

I'm all for nuclear power...as long as it's done properly, safely, and waste problems are dealt with.
In my oppinion new plants should be pebble bed type, or any other kind of reactors that have a negative thermal neutron gradient (if i'm using the proper terms here), meaning that as their temperature rises, fission rates decline, stabilizing the temperature, avoiding a meltdown, or a runaway.
It does sound scary, that nuclear waste was dealt with ,such a way.

Adam

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