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U.S. plans radioactive project (Plutonium) -Original
NY Times ^ | 6/27/05

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 ...


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: bush43; energy; news; plutonium; term2

1 posted on 06/26/2005 6:16:52 PM PDT by Tumbleweed_Connection
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection

This will get the Dem's shorts in a bunch.


2 posted on 06/26/2005 6:19:43 PM PDT by Anti-Bubba182
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection

The new cold war is beginning with China.


3 posted on 06/26/2005 6:21:15 PM PDT by popparollo (I AM THAT I AM...A FRIEND OF THE REPUBLIC!!!)
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection

Thank God that *someone* will do what it takes to protect the U.S., even if it is politically incorrect!

4 posted on 06/26/2005 6:21:50 PM PDT by Southack (Media Bias means that Castro won't be punished for Cuban war crimes against Black Angolans in Africa)
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To: Southack

Bush needs to take a stand against the purchase of any US companies by state owned companies in China.


5 posted on 06/26/2005 6:24:35 PM PDT by popparollo (I AM THAT I AM...A FRIEND OF THE REPUBLIC!!!)
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
Wonderful source for power in space
used in Galileo probe which had 49.25 pounds of Pu-238 as a primary power source. It is used as a heat source in radiothermal generators to produce electricity for unmanned spacecraft and interplanetary probes.
88 year half life
17 Ci/g mostly alpha

Great stuff
6 posted on 06/26/2005 6:25:49 PM PDT by HangnJudge
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection

Can't this stuff be produced cheaper in China or India?


7 posted on 06/26/2005 6:27:07 PM PDT by SamAdams76 (Old enough to know better, still too young to care)
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To: popparollo
"Bush needs to take a stand against the purchase of any US companies by state owned companies in China."

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.

8 posted on 06/26/2005 6:28:10 PM PDT by Southack (Media Bias means that Castro won't be punished for Cuban war crimes against Black Angolans in Africa)
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To: Anti-Bubba182
This will get the Dem's shorts in a bunch.


Remember Comrade Kerry during the Presidential debates unilaterally given up bunker nukes if he became President. I bet you he would have had a summit with the N. Korean leader by now & the French would be running Iraq. Also, I watched a rerun of Senate hearing on Iraq.Hilary was drilling Rumsfeld on the Rove Liberal rather litigate then fight terrorists comment Must of hit a real sore spot. I guess the truth hurts.
9 posted on 06/26/2005 6:28:12 PM PDT by Skip1
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To: HangnJudge

Yes, Will be an additional possible power source for future exploration missions and Bases in Space.


10 posted on 06/26/2005 6:30:03 PM PDT by popparollo (I AM THAT I AM...A FRIEND OF THE REPUBLIC!!!)
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
It is hot enough to melt plastic

I can do that with a bic.
11 posted on 06/26/2005 6:31:27 PM PDT by Husker24
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To: SamAdams76

Maybe we will one day trade it for oil.


12 posted on 06/26/2005 6:32:03 PM PDT by Tumbleweed_Connection (http://hour9.blogspot.com/)
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To: Southack

Any sale of a company that can endanger the National Security of the US should not be allowed to come to fruition.


13 posted on 06/26/2005 6:34:29 PM PDT by popparollo (I AM THAT I AM...A FRIEND OF THE REPUBLIC!!!)
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To: SamAdams76
Tough to make safely

Primarily produced through neutron capture reaction of
Neptunium-237, which is breed up from other sources

Oak Ridge looked into restarting this process several years ago
14 posted on 06/26/2005 6:38:42 PM PDT by HangnJudge
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To: popparollo
"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.

15 posted on 06/26/2005 6:38:57 PM PDT by Southack (Media Bias means that Castro won't be punished for Cuban war crimes against Black Angolans in Africa)
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To: Southack
Unocal is one of those companies.
16 posted on 06/26/2005 6:46:50 PM PDT by popparollo (I AM THAT I AM...A FRIEND OF THE REPUBLIC!!!)
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To: popparollo

This is not a thread about Unocal.

17 posted on 06/26/2005 6:48:15 PM PDT by Southack (Media Bias means that Castro won't be punished for Cuban war crimes against Black Angolans in Africa)
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection

Cool.

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.


18 posted on 06/26/2005 6:48:19 PM PDT by Soul Seeker
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To: Southack

Bump to the top.........:o)


19 posted on 06/26/2005 6:48:43 PM PDT by Squantos (Be polite. Be professional. But, have a plan to kill everyone you meet. )
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection

I think this also sends the muzzies a message: "Mecca is glass if you REALLY want to play..."


20 posted on 06/26/2005 6:53:14 PM PDT by Pharmboy (There is no positive correlation between the ability to write, act, sing or dance and being right)
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To: Pharmboy

Just as would a little drilling.


21 posted on 06/26/2005 6:54:35 PM PDT by Tumbleweed_Connection (http://hour9.blogspot.com/)
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
It is hot enough to melt plastic

My oven melts plastic.
22 posted on 06/26/2005 6:55:05 PM PDT by festus (The constitution may be flawed but its a whole lot better than what we have now.)
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To: Squantos
The production of plutonium opens the avenues necessary for new development of a national defense grid.

A word of caution:The Chi-Coms need to be watched like a hawk. The new cold war will begin with the Chinese.
23 posted on 06/26/2005 7:02:35 PM PDT by popparollo (I AM THAT I AM...A FRIEND OF THE REPUBLIC!!!)
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
U.S. Has Plans to Again Make Own Plutonium
24 posted on 06/26/2005 7:04:35 PM PDT by Tumbleweed_Connection (http://hour9.blogspot.com/)
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
AWESOME GOOD NEWS.
25 posted on 06/26/2005 7:57:01 PM PDT by nwrep
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection

They could get all the Plutonium they want if they'd just reprocess the spent fuel we'd like to send to Yucca Mountain.


26 posted on 06/26/2005 7:57:18 PM PDT by wolfpat (dum vivimus, vivamus)
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection

2004:

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


27 posted on 06/26/2005 8:02:15 PM PDT by Matchett-PI (Macroevolution is the last of the great 19th century mystery religions.)
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection

Overt denial that it is for space. We don't need new plutonium for bombs...

Secret submarines? Nuclear aircraft? This could be interesting.


28 posted on 06/26/2005 8:05:23 PM PDT by Haru Hara Haruko
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To: Haru Hara Haruko

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


29 posted on 06/26/2005 8:15:47 PM PDT by HangnJudge
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To: popparollo; Anti-Bubba182; Skip1; Soul Seeker; Pharmboy; nwrep
It needs to be emphasized and reemphasized that the isotope they're talking about, Pu-238, is not useful for bombs. This is not about building nuclear weapons; if they wanted to build new plutonium weapons they'd make Pu-239. Pu-238 isn't suitable for the purpose.

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.

30 posted on 06/26/2005 8:47:31 PM PDT by Politicalities (http://www.politicalities.com)
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To: Politicalities

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.


31 posted on 06/26/2005 8:58:20 PM PDT by Soul Seeker
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection

----"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.----

Energy Department Official Timothy Frazier (right) and unidentified assistant


32 posted on 06/26/2005 10:55:17 PM PDT by Flux Capacitor (Trust me. I know what I'm doing.)
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To: Politicalities

Thanks for the clarification...


33 posted on 06/27/2005 2:42:04 AM PDT by Pharmboy (There is no positive correlation between the ability to write, act, sing or dance and being right)
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To: Soul Seeker
All well and maybe true, but be honest. Do you expect the nuts in the street to make these distinctions?

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."

34 posted on 06/27/2005 4:12:19 AM PDT by Politicalities (http://www.politicalities.com)
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To: HangnJudge

For listening devices for underwater for very remote terrestrial deployment?


35 posted on 06/27/2005 5:27:23 AM PDT by Haru Hara Haruko
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To: HangnJudge
88 year half life 17 Ci/g mostly alpha Great stuff

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.

36 posted on 06/27/2005 5:38:26 AM PDT by SC DOC
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection; SamAdams76; HangnJudge; Southack; Squantos; Pharmboy; nwrep; Matchett-PI
I don't understand why we need to make more plutonium.
I'm not AGAINST it... I strongly support our nation's nuclear development...
But IMHO, doesn't it make more sense to reprocess and recycle the plutonium that we already have???

US plutonium arrives in France for reprocessing
U.S. Plutonium Shipments Head to France
US sends plutonium to France (34 tonnes, enough for 40 nuclear bombs)
U.S. Government Ships Plutonium to France

37 posted on 06/27/2005 10:46:29 AM PDT by Willie Green (Some people march to a different drummer - and some people polka)
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To: SC DOC
and its half life is 245,000 years.

245K years???

COOL!!!

Let's design a reactor that uses THAT stuff!!!
It could generate electricity for MILLENIA without refueling!!!

38 posted on 06/27/2005 10:49:10 AM PDT by Willie Green (Some people march to a different drummer - and some people polka)
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To: Willie Green
But IMHO, doesn't it make more sense to reprocess and recycle the plutonium that we already have???

I thought the idea independence all the way around. Imagine drilling... our own crude.

39 posted on 06/27/2005 10:57:17 AM PDT by Tumbleweed_Connection (http://hour9.blogspot.com/)
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To: Willie Green
"I don't understand why we need to make more plutonium. I'm not AGAINST it... I strongly support our nation's nuclear development... But IMHO, doesn't it make more sense to reprocess and recycle the plutonium that we already have???"

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.

40 posted on 06/27/2005 4:19:58 PM PDT by Southack (Media Bias means that Castro won't be punished for Cuban war crimes against Black Angolans in Africa)
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To: Southack
Different isotopes of Plutonium (Pu-239 for bombs, Pu-238 for batteries),

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".

41 posted on 06/27/2005 4:41:39 PM PDT by Willie Green (Some people march to a different drummer - and some people polka)
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To: Willie Green

Works for me.

42 posted on 06/27/2005 5:06:39 PM PDT by Southack (Media Bias means that Castro won't be punished for Cuban war crimes against Black Angolans in Africa)
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