Gundersen: I think plutonium being reported around Fukushima is raw, unoxidized pieces of nuclear rods that were blown out from Unit 3′s spent fuel pool August 22nd, 2012 Regarding the recent test results that detected plutonium at 10 locations in Fukushima, Fairewinds’ Arnie Gundersen writes to ENENews:
Pu came from the damaged fuel rods, obviously. The question is whether it was the damaged rods inside U1/2/3 reactors or whether it was the U3 spent fuel pool. Given U1/2/3 had a containment around the cores (even if damaged), this data leads me to continue to believe that the U3 SFP detonation is the most likely location for the release.
When asked if the plutonium could have been transported by smoke from the burning fuel rods inside the reactors, Gundersen replies:
Burning is oxidation, so U or Pu combines with oxygen to create U oxide… just like Carbon combines with oxygen to make CO2…. small micron size particles….. I think the Pu at Fuku is raw, unoxidized, blown out, not burned
It is the task of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) to clean all this up. The plans are to pay the French company Areva, who have proved their technology works, to build a new mixed oxide fuel (MOX) plant.
The other option is to let the US-Japanese GE-Hitachi build a new fast PRISM reactor on the site to burn the plutonium and produce electricity. This is a more elegant engineering option but the reactor is totally unproven and is decades away from completion.
Sellafield: The dangers of Britain’s nuclear dustbin RT, 10 July, 2012“…….Cold war legacy Behind the razor wire, security guards and public relations campaigns,
Sellafield is home to some of the most radioactive buildings in Europe.
The UK has the largest stockpile of Plutonium anywhere in the world and it’s all stored at Sellafield. Plutonium is used for the manufacture of nuclear weapons and is extremely radioactive with a half-life of 25,000 years. Read more »
Tri-Valley CAREs has had many successes throughout the years…. the first group in the western US to receive an EPA grant to monitor the Superfund cleanup at Lawrence Livermore National Lab and the first community-based group in the country to win a recognition award from EPA for its effectiveness
For decades, a toxic groundwater plume has flowed westward from Lawrence Livermore National Lab in the Livermore community aquifer towards Dublin.
Living with the Legacy of the Nuclear Stockpile Next Door in Livermore, CA http://www.arounddublinblog.com/2012/07/livermore-ca-nuclear-stockpile-next-door/ by Around Dublin Team Tri-Valley CAREs was founded in 1983 in Livermore, CA by concerned neighbors living around Lawrence Livermore National Lab , one of two locations where all US nuclear weapons are designed. This grassroots organization works to strengthen global security by stopping the development of new nuclear weapons in the US and by promoting the elimination of nuclear weapons globally.
It monitors nuclear weapons and environmental clean-up activities throughout the US nuclear
weapons complex, with a special focus on Lawrence Livermore National Lab and the surrounding Tri-Valley communities.
Tri-Valley CAREs has had many successes throughout the years. Read more »
Ultimately, however, the core problem may be that such new reactors don’t eliminate theuclear waste that has piled up so much as transmute it. Even with a fleet of such fast reactors, nations would nonetheless require an ultimate home for radioactive waste, one reason that a 2010 M.I.T. report on spent nuclear fuel dismissed such fast reactors.
Can Fast Reactors Speedily Solve Plutonium Problems? The U.K. is grappling with how to get rid of weapons-grade plutonium and may employ a novel reactor design to consume it Scientific American By David Biello | March 21, 2012 The U.K. has nearly 100 metric tons of plutonium—dubbed “the element from hell” by some—that it doesn’t know what to do with. The island nation does not need the potent powder to construct more nuclear weapons, and spends billions of British pounds to ensure that others don’t steal it for that purpose. The unstable element, which will remain radioactive for millennia, is the residue of ill-fated efforts to recycle used nuclear fuel.
One solution under consideration is to recycle the plutonium yet further—by using it as fuel in a pair of new, so-called “fast” reactors. Such nuclear reactors can actually “consume” plutonium via fission (transforming it into other forms of nuclear waste that are not as useful for weapons). The U.K. is considering a plan to build two of General Electric’s PRISM fast reactors, the latest in a series of fast-reactor designs that for several decades have attempted with mixed success to handle plutonium and other radioactive waste from nuclear power. Read more »
The Manhattan Project’s Fatal “Demon Core”, Physics Central, May 21, 2012 Sixty six years ago today, Louis Slotin saw a flash of blue light in the depths of Los Alamos National Laboratory. Seconds before, all that separated the young scientist from a lethal dose of radiation was a thin screwdriver.
The screwdriver supported a reflective covering that encased a sphere of plutonium, and if the reflector fell into place, a nuclear chain reaction would commence. When Slotin’s hand slipped, a lethal burst of radiation hit him, and he died nine days later. Read more »
Experts urge Britain to bury plutonium rather than recycling
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20120510p2g00m0in010000c.html 10 May 12, WASHINGTON (Kyodo) — Four U.S. nuclear experts urged Britain to bury plutonium rather than recycling for fuel for nuclear reactors as it is more cost-effective, according to the British science journal Nature’s Thursday edition.
Citing an estimate in 2000 that recycling plutonium from spent fuel to make mixed oxide fuel adds $750 million each year to the cost of electric power generation in France, the four said, ”Britain should seriously evaluate the less costly and less risky method of direct plutonium disposal, and take the opportunity to lead the world towards a better solution for reducing stockpiles.” Read more »
despite precautions, scenarios exist in which plutonium-238 from spacecraft could contaminate Earth. If a nuclear-laden spacecraft performed a high-speed slingshot fly-by and a calculation mistake occurred, the craft could enter the Earth’s atmosphere, disintegrate, and spew plutonium throughout the planet.
The public will have to weigh the benefits [what benefits? - Christina Macpherson] of these pioneering space missions against the costs and risks of use
Nuclear Renaissance in Space, Miller-McCune, By Wendee Holtcamp, April 6, 2012 As the U.S. prepares to relaunch domestic production of plutonium-238, the space community wishes to assure the public of its safety. Are they right?
In this, the 50th year of using nuclear energy for space missions, the U.S. is preparing to restart domestic production of a plutonium isotope that fuels space vehicles — a topic that was front and center at the recent Nuclear and Emerging Technologies for Space conference, held in The Woodlands, Texas…. Read more »
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