Skip to comments.U.S. plans radioactive project (Plutonium) -Original
Posted on 06/26/2005 6:16:50 PM PDT by Tumbleweed_Connection
The Bush administration is planning the government's first production of plutonium 238 - a highly radioactive substance valued as a power source - since the Cold War, stirring debate over the risks and benefits of the deadly material. It is hot enough to melt plastic and so dangerous that a speck can cause cancer.
Federal officials say the program would produce a total of 330 pounds, or 150 kilograms, over 30 years at the Idaho National Laboratory, a sprawling site outside Idaho Falls some 100 miles, or 160 kilometers, to the west and upwind of Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. The program could cost $1.5 billion and generate more than 50,000 drums of hazardous and radioactive waste.
Project managers say that most if not all of the new plutonium is intended for secret missions and declined to divulge any details.
"The real reason we're starting production is for national security," Timothy Frazier, head of radioisotope power systems at the Department of Energy, said at the end of a recent interview.
He vigorously denied that any of the classified missions would involve nuclear arms, satellites or weapons in space...
(Excerpt) Read more at iht.com ...
This will get the Dem's shorts in a bunch.
The new cold war is beginning with China.
Thank God that *someone* will do what it takes to protect the U.S., even if it is politically incorrect!
Bush needs to take a stand against the purchase of any US companies by state owned companies in China.
Can't this stuff be produced cheaper in China or India?
Nonsense. Let the Chinese purchase the few dead and dying of U.S. firms all day long. Many a money-losing firm should open their doors to the PLA.
Yes, Will be an additional possible power source for future exploration missions and Bases in Space.
Maybe we will one day trade it for oil.
Any sale of a company that can endanger the National Security of the US should not be allowed to come to fruition.
That's a pretty small group. Out of several million American companies, only a handful do anything meaningful for national security.
This is not a thread about Unocal.
I guess this means the "No Blood for Oil" crowd can go back to their sentimental favorite. No Nukes!
It'll be fun to at least have a different slogan (or so old it is new) to shoot down. The other one has long since run its coarse.
Bump to the top.........:o)
I think this also sends the muzzies a message: "Mecca is glass if you REALLY want to play..."
Just as would a little drilling.
They could get all the Plutonium they want if they'd just reprocess the spent fuel we'd like to send to Yucca Mountain.
Idaho National Laboratory may pick up plutonium project
Posted on Mon, Aug. 16, 2004
Associated Press IDAHO FALLS, Idaho
There are two finalists for a federal facility to produce the fuel for batteries to enable satellites and probes to flourish in space, an official said Monday.
The program to produce the radioactive fuel will either be housed at eastern Idaho's Argonne National Laboratory-West or at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.
The final decision depends on an environmental review by the Department of Energy, which will determine the future production of plutonium-238.
"That has to occur before we know whether more plutonium will be produced," spokesman Tim Jackson said Monday.
Plutonium-238 is made by processing neptunium-237, another radioactive element.
As it decays, plutonium generates heat which is used to make electricity inside radioisotopic thermal generators. This process has supplied power to probes NASA's Galileo and Cassini.
Although the Energy Department has already decided to move neptunium-237 from its Savannah River Site in South Carolina to Argonne-West, it is unclear when those shipments will begin, Jackson said.
Bill Magwood, director of nuclear energy research, decided to move the material to Argonne-West as part of the consolidation of nuclear energy research at the future Idaho National Laboratory.
The decision, announced Friday in the Federal Register, indicates the Idaho facility already meets stricter security requirements and has the storage space available for the neptunium, while the Oak Ridge site does not meet security standards.
Moving the entire plutonium project to Idaho is expected to carry a price tag of about $200 million.
At a hearing last month on the INL, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., criticized spending the money on moving the program to Idaho. He said it would have been better spent on other projects.
Argonne-West is currently building a new radioisotopic thermal generators for a Pluto probe, scheduled to be launched in 2006.
The Idaho National Laboratory will be created in February by the merger of Argonne-West and the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory.
Idaho National Laboratory may get plutonium from SC
(Idaho Falls, Idaho-AP) Aug. 16, 2004 - Plutonium may be shipped from the Savannah River Site to a federal facility for a program to produce radioactive material used in long-lasting batteries for satellites and other space instruments.
The program to produce the radioactive fuel will either be housed at eastern Idaho's Argonne National Laboratory-West or at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. Although the Department of Energy intends to move neptunium-237 from the Savannah River Site in South Carolina to Argonne-West, it's not clear when those shipments will begin.
The final decision depends on an environmental review by the Department of Energy. Neptunium-237 is needed to make plutonium-238, which is valued because for its long half-life. As the material decays, it gives off heat, which is turned into electricity inside radioisotopic thermal generators.
The generators have powered NASA's Galileo and Cassini probes. Argonne-West is currently building a new radioisotopic thermal generators for a Pluto probe that is scheduled to be launched in 2006.
Posted 4:54pm by BrettWitt
More here: http://www.greatdreams.com/idaho_plutonium.htm
Overt denial that it is for space. We don't need new plutonium for bombs...
Secret submarines? Nuclear aircraft? This could be interesting.
Waste of time to use this in any terrestrial application
Too expensive to use in any setting but most remote
Not enough energy density for submarine or aircraft use
And the claim about "so dangerous that a speck could cause cancer" is pure hogwash. Plutonium decays by producing alpha radiation, which is so weak it doesn't even penetrate skin. I suppose you could be in trouble if you managed to inhale a whole bunch of plutonium dust and exposed your lungs and internal organs to radiation, but simple precautions can prevent this. There are people who have plutonium-powered pacemakers for crying out loud. There is not a single recorded death from plutonium exposure, although a couple of people have died from criticality accidents where inadvertant fission reactions were started. See here.
All well and maybe true, but be honest. Do you expect the nuts in the street to make these distinctions?
We know they will not. Hence my statement. I expect to see the Golden Oldies of slogans used during the '80's trotted out.
Thanks for the clarification...
Of course they will not. My post was intended to give right-thinking people ammunition against the nutballs. When you see some stark raving hippy protesting against this in the street or on a message board, talking about how terrible nuclear weapons are, deflate him by saying, "hey, moron, Pu-238 isn't used for making bombs."
For listening devices for underwater for very remote terrestrial deployment?
Except that it decays to U-234 whose alpha decay is almost as energetic as Plutonium 238 (4.77 vs 5.5 MEV) and its half life is 245,000 years.
Let's design a reactor that uses THAT stuff!!!
It could generate electricity for MILLENIA without refueling!!!
I thought the idea independence all the way around. Imagine drilling... our own crude.
You've got at least 3 factors coming into play:
1. Different isotopes of Plutonium (Pu-239 for bombs, Pu-238 for batteries),
2. Half life of Plutonium means that existing stockpiles decay into *other* elements/isotopes over time (and we've been making Plutonium since 1939 at UCal),
3. Costs of re-processing versus making from scratch.
Okay, that makes sense.
Different isotopes for different uses.
Half life of Plutonium means that existing stockpiles decay into *other* elements/isotopes over time (and we've been making Plutonium since 1939 at UCal),
Yeah, that's the stuff I'm in favor of reprocessing and recycling as best we can.
3. Costs of re-processing versus making from scratch.
Yeah, well the investment for recycling might be greater than what's needed to produce virgin material from scratch (resulting in a lower ROI.) But we still have to do SOMETHING with the so-called "waste". I figure that, instead of spending billions to just bury it, might as well run it through some kind of reactor and get some electricity out of it. That might not be as "efficient" as commercial nuclear reactors, but at least we'll be getting something useful out of the stockpiled "waste".
Works for me.
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