Utility company plutonium?

Reflections on fusion history, current events, and predictions for the 'fusion powered future.
gpierce
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Re: Utility company plutonium?

Post by gpierce » Thu Oct 28, 2004 9:15 am

There is also the <a href="http://www.ga.com/gtmhr>GT-MHR.</a> Safe and highly efficent.

ChrisSmolinski
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Re: Utility company plutonium?

Post by ChrisSmolinski » Mon Nov 08, 2004 7:17 pm

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

Amen. The latter will come, eventually. Hopefully in advance of the lead-time
on the construction of several dozen nuke plants.

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Richard Hull
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Re: Utility company plutonium?

Post by Richard Hull » Mon Nov 08, 2004 8:01 pm

Chris hit on my constant fear......................That we realize we need nukes and finally give in at the 11th hour and hastily paste up nuke plants as needed to make the masses go quiet again. This is a plan for the ultimate TMI disaster.

The nuclear industry is a proven technology and a mature industry and at first we can just dust off the old plans for the best models still working and trouble free and start careful construction. We should not screw with success that is on record and could only do worse than cookie cut the the best of the best.

Meanwhile newer and better fission technologies can be put forward and tested. (Somethng we should have been deeply involved in for the last 30 years.)

Slapping plants together scares the hell out of me and would be a fools errand and a ticking bomb.

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.

badflash
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Re: Utility company plutonium?

Post by badflash » Tue Nov 09, 2004 1:30 am

I happen to work at a Nuclear Power Plant. The disccusssion here is mostly conjecture and pretty much off base. Utilities have not been able to use reprocessed fuel as long as I have been in the industry, and that is 24 years. All the spent fuel that we ever had is still on site, except for the load of thorium fuel that Rickover picked up to make the Shippingport Light Water Breeder.

We have had to go to dry cask storage to make room in out spent fuel pool due to the government refusing to take the spent fuel they had agreed to take 30 years ago.

Commercial Nuclear fuel in not suitable for weapons due to the high concentration of PU-240. This pollutes the plutonium and prevents weapons from being made from it.

The utilities have never ben licenced for weapons grade fuel and so could never own it. The highest concentration of fissionable isotopes is limited by the licence to about 5%. You need 97% pure fissionable isotopes of U235 or Pu239 to make a bomb. There are plans to mix recycled weapons with fuel to use it up, but this would only be tothe 5% level. The isotopes would be de-natured so to speak with PU-240 to prevent weapons use.

Spent fuel far too hot to steal. It would take someone with the resources of a nation to separate the plutonium from the other hot trash, then they would need a diffusion system or other expensive stuff costing billions to enrich it to weapons grade.

I'm pretty sure all the stuff that was reprocessed by GE came from Navy Reactors and the Navy Prototypes out east.

davidtrimmell
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Re: Utility company plutonium?

Post by davidtrimmell » Tue Nov 09, 2004 4:18 am

I really do have to agree with Jack here. It may be possible that something was done at TVA early on, but not at any commercial plant. The only stuff I ever saw over 90% was in the "flux" thimbles. They are used to detect fission rates in the core and contain 100-400 miligrams of U-235. Nasty things if they ever get jamed while retracting from core after shutdown...

Jack IP1 was a Thorium based reactor wasn't it? I know folks who worked IP in the early eigties and they said they used the IP1 contaiment for temp storage of some LSA.

I saw what was done to Surry. They took that plant from a real sh*t-hole to something to brag about. Replacing mucho pipe and valves, but shows that if you have the resources a plant can last indefinatly on its site. Good chemistry and maintenance are the only way. I was friends with a couple of engineers who were kept busy for many, many years working on TMI MODs, and yes we are safer for them. A accident at a US plant will only release moderate quantities of nobel gasses and some Iodine, not serious population hazard. Now shipping the spent fuel to Nevada does pose some real risks since our rail infrasructure is crap. But this would be a good opertunity to do some serious investment in the infrustructure of this country to make it as safe as possible, and promote more public transport via rail. But as I see it it ain't going to happen soon, as the money is being spent bombing Iraq. What a waste...

David Trimmell

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Re: Utility company plutonium?

Post by badflash » Tue Nov 09, 2004 5:54 am

Unit 1 was a thorium blanketed reactor with a U235 core. It bred U233 from Thorium 232 and we had the world's only supply of the stuff soaking in our Fuel Pool when Rickover came looking for it. So far as I know that is the only commercial fuel ever shipped off site anywhere. We have all th rest.

As for shipping, this is as safe as anything else. The shipping containers can survive anything without rupturing. The fuel must decay on site for years before they can be shipped, so there is little direct hazzard with the amount of shielding they have. I've seen videos of the testing where they have a truck hit broadside by a freight train, and smash it head on at 100+ MPH. Like evrything else nuclear they are built like a brick S**T house.

It is shipping of pesticided, petro chemicals, toxic waste that scares the bejesus out of me. Ever see a gasoline tanker burn down an overpass made of conrete & steel?

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Richard Hull
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Re: Utility company plutonium?

Post by Richard Hull » Tue Nov 09, 2004 4:06 pm

If one reads "the curve of binding energy" in 1973 there was an active program of nuclear power plant extraction of used fuel assemblies. This was done at two or three locations at that time. There was a period, I have no idea how long or brief that the government WOULD NOT purchase the separated plutonium any longer and it was the nuclear power industry's job to secure it.

This very book might have been the catalyst for immediate change and restructuring, for Ted Taylor was fighting tooth and nail to have the government lock down every gram of fissile material. This book was an expose' of the loose acconting and security techniques of the AEC and power industry in specific and gave the lie to people thinking that a lone intelligent inspired and inventive man with fissile material in his hands could not make a bomb.

Admittedly the biggest lapses and loses were government loses which over the period 1955-1973 totalled over 170 kilograms. Also, this could have been deliberate to funnel, under the table, fissile material to certain selected allies or to other areas not desirable to divulge. Some of the government facilities had noise bands in the 20 gram per day range, according to officials at the sites in the early 1970's!

In the book in interviews with AEC people and industry security people there are countless individuals who note that there was a "noise band" in the accounting for fissles. An adroit person in touch with the noise level could admittedly skim gram quantities each working day and they would never be missed. Over 60 kilograms at one facility over two years went missing. Admitted this was a massive facility and handled huge amounts, but that much!!! Other facilities never kept fractional gram records only gram records and lost a kilogram here and there each and every year.

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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Brian McDermott
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Re: Utility company plutonium?

Post by Brian McDermott » Tue Nov 09, 2004 7:43 pm

I remember hearing a story about how a whole freight shipment of Plutonium went missing many years ago. Apparently, through some paperwork error, the Plutonium got shipped to a shoe warehouse, where the employees had no idea what they had received. The mess was eventually sorted out, but it shows how (comparatively) haphazard people were back then about the transport and storage fissile material.

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Re: Utility company plutonium?

Post by badflash » Wed Nov 10, 2004 1:02 am

Again, I would ask for specifics on any of this. This has the smell of an uban legend. Indian Point (where I work) is one of the oldest nukes in the nation. We still have ALL of our old fuel. Who's did they reprocess?

Before any of our fuel could be shipped (except the stuff Rickover took), reprocessing was a dead issue.

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Re: Utility company plutonium?

Post by badflash » Wed Nov 10, 2004 2:39 am

Curiouser and curiouser. check http://www.osti.gov/html/osti/opennet/d ... srepo.html
Looks like there was a period of time before 1972 when fuel was reprocessed. Some was retained in the commercial world, but was not bomb grade due to the content of PU-240.
http://www.osti.gov/html/osti/opennet/d ... /tab3.html shows the concentrations and amounts. It looks like this was used in the Fast Breeder Reactor programs.

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