“Let them Burn Plutonium! ” ???

Fumio Obata
A recent Exhibition at the Beacon (run by Sellafield) promoting burning Plutonium in a reactor near you!

This Telegraph article , and similar in other media suggests that plutonium is classified as a waste.  It is’nt, It SHOULD be, but it isn’t.

This is what the NDA say about nuclear waste:  “If it is assumed that the baseline inventory, as set out in the Managing Radioactive Waste White Paper (but excluding plutonium and uranium) is to be included in the (GDF) concept then the cost is in the order of £12 billion (at 2008 money values and undiscounted).”

To classify plutonium as waste would undermine the Government’s dangerous and continuing reprocessing at Sellafield.  The inventory of Plutonium and Uranium is not included as waste.  Is this because the Government and pronuclear luvvies like George Monbiot are lining us up for burning MOX fuel ?  MOX fuel is a tiny bit of plutonium stirred (hence the MIXED OXIDE) into uranium.  The net result is more plutonium.

Here is the Telegraph article courtesy of No2NuclearNews–  the article might as well be throwing its hands in the air and be saying “What shall we do with the plutonium?”   The answer is coming back thick and fast from nuclear luvvies that the ethical thing would be to burn it in reactors.   NO! The ethical thing would be to STOP Making Nuclear Fuel in Preston, STOP Burning Nuclear Fuel in Reactors (this makes Plutonium), STOP Reprocessing Used Nuclear Fuel  in Sellafield (this extracts Plutonium from the used fuel).   THEN we need to worry about the ONGOING ££££billions required for research, development and action in containing the already obscene amount of existing wastes we have, to repackage them again and again and again and again into eternity!

“Highly dangerous plutonium canisters are “decaying faster than anticipated” at the Sellafield nuclear plant and present an “intolerable risk” if they started to leak, the spending watchdog has warned. Government scientists have now agreed to spend an extra £1billion to make them safe by wrapping them in packaging, the National Audit Office said today. Britain has the largest amount of civil plutonium – a bi-product of nuclear fuel reprocessing – in the world, around 40 per cent of the global total. Most of the plutonium is stored at Sellafield in Cumbria, where it is managed by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA). The problems have occurred because some of the plutonium canisters are judged to be “unsuitable” for storage in a new facility which only opened in 2012, the NAO said. Staff are now racing against the clock to build a new £1.5billion facility – and are having to make contingency plans for the next two years while the new depot is constructed. The NAO report – titled ‘Progress with reducing risk at Sellafield’ – said: “Some canisters that have already been transferred into modern storage will have to be repackaged through the SRP [the residue store retreatment plant] facility to ensure they do not degrade.” The report adds: “A leak from any package would lead to an ‘intolerable’ risk as defined by the Office for Nuclear Regulation. “The NDA has therefore decided to place the canisters more at risk in extra layers of packaging until SRP is operational. It has not yet submitted a new business case to support these contingency arrangements.” Dr Doug Parr, chief scientist for Greenpeace UK, said: “In some ways it is fortunate that this failure was detected whilst the plutonium was still accessible, and the cost of patching the canisters is only £1billion. If an inaccessible deep waste dump were to fail in a similar way, who knows what the full cost might be?”

Telegraph 19th June 2018

5 thoughts on ““Let them Burn Plutonium! ” ???

  1. George Monbiot has a brain capable of “doing sums” as we called it in elementary school.
    It seems that a majority even of liberals and former “environmentalists” no longer have that skill.
    There is a fact that was unknown to Maxwell and Kelvin and their contemporaries, and became apparent in separate guises to Einstein, Becquerel, the Curies and others. It was in fact, in the case of the Sun’s power, mystifying to Kelvin, and in the case of the Earth’s internal heat, it threw his best estimate of its age off, by about two orders of magnitude.
    It is of course the energy of the atomic nucleus. The sun “provides us” with a finite and fairly constant rate of energy from nuclear fusion. The interior of the planet contains vastly more energy than the heat of molten rocks and metals, or the mantle would long ago have gone solid.
    Nearly all life on the planet uses energy from the radiation of the sun. A few chemotrophs in the greatest deeps of the seas use energy whose source is the heat of radioactivity of uranium, thorium, and potassium 40.
    The crucial sum is this: there are seven or eight times as many people on Earth as there were in the 18th century. The energy from direct solar sources was insufficient even back then. The countries of the Industrial Revolution discovered what we now realise was fossil solar energy, including the oxygen to burn them.
    We have discovered that the carbon dioxide from that combustion endangers the biosphere.

  2. If you have a small vial containing 16 micrograms of nitrogen 16 (N-16) at a certain time T0, and a radiation detector of quite modest sensitivity, let us suppose that it registers N GBq of radioactivity. One GBq is a gigabecquerel, a thousand million events per second. But the half life of N-16 is 7.12 seconds, so at T0+7.12 the radiation is only N/2 GBQ, and after ten half lives, 71.2 seconds, it’s less than N/1024 GBq, call it near enough N MBq (megabecqerels), and at T0+142 its in mere kilobecquerels. So in four minutes it’s gone!
    Now the half life of plutonium 239 is 24,000 years so its radioactivity isn’t the problem. If your enemy can set up a “Fat Man” device with microsecond simultaneity of firing identical charges to propel a sufficient number of shaped fragments of the metal together to make a critical mass enough to destroy a city. It’s not the radioactivity, friends, it’s like the relationship between a Molotov cocktail and a motor car.

  3. An actual running reactor of the LWR or even HWR sort is indeed using a fuel that is mostly uranium 238 with a small amount of fissile U-235 that provides the chain reaction and the fission energy.
    The non fissile U-238 is what makes it impossible to become a bomb. The neutrons it captures mean that a bomb type exponentially increasing rate of fission is impossible no matter what happens.
    There is a known way to make bomb grade plutonium You build a “pile” of pure natural uranium rods, and very pure graphite, with enough water coolant running through it to keep it from getting hot enough to ignite the graphite. Run it for three weeks, slide out the uranium with its manufactured plutonium, extract that, refabricate the uranium, and repeat.
    The three week limit is to protect the Pu-239 from enough of it becoming Pu-240 by capturing another neutron. You can look up what bomb grade percentage Pu-240 is.
    Reactor grade fuel, after the usual three years, contains about 1% of plutonium with far too much Pu-240 and higher to build a bomb unless you”re smart enough to know that the other way is EASIER.

  4. Always love to see journalism without intellectualism (a felt obligation to study, unlike Trump). Yet our descendants rightly expect us to study.

    So the author doesn’t get that the very first reactor to deliver significant electrical power was EBR1 and used Pu bred from U238 — a fast-neutron breeder reactor.

    And, the author has studied so little as to not grasp that the Pu produced by standard reactors is not just the bomb-preferred isotope, but a mix of Pu isotopes that makes it useless for weapons.

    The author might also study up on how mixing Pu with regular Uranium fuel for power plants has allowed us to destroy thousands of Russian warheads in our Megatons to Megawatts agreement (when Russia was nice). How ironic that anti-nuke folks want to shut off such an option that adds world safety to clean power.

    As our Trump administration demonstrates every day, this author demonstrates — one should learn before writing. So here’s a bit on what “nuclear waste” actually is…
    http://nscj.co.uk/ecm6/sessions/A06_905.pdf (abstract)
    http://nscj.co.uk/ecm6/sessions/AlexCannara.pdf (slides)

    Dr. A. Cannara
    Menlo Park, Calif.
    650 400 3071

    PS, Nuclear reactors don’t “burn” anything.

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