The Ten Deceptions Part V
(5) The Fifth Deception is that we are limited in the amount of uranium that we can mine. Since we have only about thirty years supply available, we might as well just give up now and cease the building of any new nuclear reactors.
This is another extremely deceptive statement. Activists are using the low side of estimated known reserves that can be easily mined. Most experts see the figure as closer to 50 years.
Does this mean that we have only 30-50 years worth of nuclear fuel available and then that will be it? Then no more nuclear energy will even be available?
For one thing, if the activists really believed this they would be jumping with glee that we will run out of fuel in 30 years and encourage us to burn it up as soon as possible. Then they would achieve their goal of a non nuclear world.
The fact is that they know the only way to stop nuclear power is through deceit, through litigation, through manipulating public opinion and unfounded fears in the hope of bring the industry to a stand still. They know that if they are not successful in doing this then there is plenty of nuclear fuel to last for thousands of years and they will look like fools in the eyes of future generations for their current protests.
So how then can we have thousands of years supply of fuel available when we are told there are only a few decades of reserves left to mine?
Answer: Several reasons. First projections are based upon known reserves. History has proved there are always many unknown reserves.
Consider this. Since the 1950’s the estimate of known uranium reserves have increased by a factor of ONE THOUSAND TIMES! If then the early projections were off by a factor of 1000 – the question is how much are we off now?
If we are merely off by a factor of ten this time we would have enough for another 500 years using present methods.
This does not even take into consideration the fact that technology will continue to advance and that we may develop methods of deep earth exploration that could reveal a thousand times what we project today in reserves.
In addition to this Uranium may be extracted from the waste of our coal fired plants. But, in addition to this, we have untold reserves available as an ingredient in sea water.
It is estimated that there are five billion tons of uranium in the oceans, enough for a very long time to come.
Currently the cost of uranium is only about 5% of the cost of electricity generated. We could pay ten times as much for more expensive extraction methods and the cost of electricity generated would still be competitive.
All this takes into account that we would continue nuclear processing using our current primitive methods.
If we switch to breeder reactors we would basically create an infinite supply of energy with the reserves we currently have available.
A breeder reactor is called so because it breeds – meaning it gives birth to more fuel than it consumes.
We have heard dreams of perpetual motion machines for thousands of years, but we seem to have that available now. If, in the process of generating electricity through nuclear fuels which create more fuel than they burn, then we have something very close to perpetual energy.
Technically it is not perpetual, but very close to it and it is obvious that these breeder reactors are a key to unlimited economical and clean fuel for as long as we need it.
Unfortunately, nuclear activists have so succeeding in spooking the public as well as many in congress to the extent that they made it against the law to build them.
(6) The Sixth Deception is that we should not recycle nuclear waste because it is too dangerous. Recycling nuclear waste breeds more plutonium and this is a bad thing since this can be used to make nuclear bombs.
Unfortunately, this deception and scare tactic has put the fear of God in so many people that public opinion as well as politicians with little scientific knowledge have bought into it and cost the world over 20 years of progress toward an infinite energy source.
This is another point of high hypocrisy. First the activists claim they want reduction of greenhouse gasses and clean air, yet fight tooth and nail against the only major source of power which emits no greenhouse gasses or pollution into the atmosphere.
Almost all the activists are religious promoters of recycling, yet when anyone even talks about researching into the recycling of nuclear fuel these guys experience an internal nuclear reaction of rebellion and fight against the principle as if they are in a life and death struggle.
As far as nuclear waste is concerned the activists, and a large part of the public who thoughtlessly endorse them, are demanding the impossible and there is nothing that can be done to satisfy them, excepting the complete destruction of the nuclear industry.
They say it is too dangerous to store the nuclear waste at the nuclear site so we have spent many billions in finding the safest possible site to bury it in 1000 feet of rock. This material was to be molded into ceramic glass which can resist an impact into a brick wall at 80 MPH and will not break down for millions of years. Then for additional protection it would be encased in stainless steel.
After all the research and development they still find hundreds of reasons to protest this reasonable approach.
The other alternative is to recycle the waste as fuel. The technology available to recycle most of the waste is available now and eventually we may be able to recycle all waste.
Doesn’t this seem desirable? That is to recycle the waste to the extent that eventually there may be no nuclear waste at all?
Not to these guys. They protest this idea with a voice so loud that their contagious fear has spread abroad across the planet.
The problem is that all this group does is protest, protest, protest… They offer no solutions. Ahh, how much easier it is to curse the darkness rather than light a candle, to find fault rather than offer a solution.
Here’s what we cannot do if the activists have their way.
We can’t store the waste on site. We can’t store it at Yucca Mountain or anywhere else in the earth. We can’t deposit it two miles under the ocean, even though scientists say that it probably would not take a human life in a million years. We can’t recycle it.
Well, just what are we supposed to do with it??? It seems that we are supposed to keep it where it is today in the worst possible circumstance and then protest for eternity that the waste is in existence.
Perhaps they want us to view it as the common cold. It exists among us and there is nothing we can do, but complain about it.
The sad thing is that there are many alternatives, but instead of pursuing them doing nothing is seen as more desirable than doing something.
The fact is, we must do something. Even though for a mere billion dollars I would store the problematic plutonium in my living room (which would hold it all), a solution which is deemed most desirable must be resolved and pursued.
Logic would tell us that recycling the waste with fast breeder reactors or the improved Integral Fast Reactors is the wisest course of action.
Perfecting this technology has numerous advantages.
(A) Breeder reactors get about 100 times as much energy from a kilogram of uranium than do present reactors. (B) The nuclear waste is used as fuel instead of being buried in the earth. (C) We currently have enough waste to supply the United States with current levels of electricity for 1000 years. (D) One of the big complaints of activists about nuclear energy is the problems created by the mining of uranium. By using Integral Fast Reactors the mining of uranium could be reduced to most any level that is desired, even to zero if necessary. (E) We could have a use for dismantled nuclear weapons and recycle their fissionable materials. (F) We would be unlimited in the amount of energy we could produce making us free from air pollution and paving the way for pollution free electric cars freeing us from dependence on oil, foreign or domestic.
Fortunately other nations such as France and Great Britain are pursuing this technology and currently are scratching the surface on nuclear recycling.
So what is the problem with the United States? Why have we trashed this wonderful prospect and continue with the reactor technology from the fifties?
In 1979 President Jimmy Carter listened to the voices of the nuclear activists and banned research and production of the recycling of nuclear waste. His executive order mandated that we proceed with the decades old method of maximum waste production by specifying that all fissionable material can only be used once and once only.
This order was rescinded by Reagan in 1981, but the backlash by the activists and the public fear was so great that the administration was afraid to proceed with development for fear of political repercussions. Therefore from Reagan to Clinton nothing was done with nuclear recycling even though it was legal.
But then Clinton closed the loophole and cancelled all possible research into the Integral Fast Reactor as soon as he came into office in 1992.
Now the Bush administration is considering more research and development into nuclear energy and again the activists and protesters are coming out of the woodwork to bring progress to a halt, yet offering no workable solution to the many energy problems which present themselves.
This development of safe nuclear energy should not be a Republican-Democratic adversarial thing, but must be viewed with the idea of wholeness. What is the best decision for the whole of the country and the world?
The question that now arises is why would some think that nuclear recycling is not as good thing?
The main reason is this. Breeder reactors recycle by taking the waste and transforming it into usable nuclear fuel that can be used again. This fuel, such as plutonium 239, has the potential to be used to manufacture nuclear weapons.
Yikes!!! Isn’t this reason enough to be against breeder reactors?
Answer: It is no reason at all unless one is devoid of facts on the matter and motivated entirely by gut emotional reaction.
Fact One: The major nuclear nations such as the United States, Russia, Great Britain, France and China already have all the fissionable material they need to make all the bombs they want, or can afford.
If ten times the fissionable material were made available though breeder reactors this would not mean there would be an increase in the number of nuclear bombs.
Despite a constant increase in the current supply of plutonium both Russia and the United States are reducing their nuclear arsenal.
The genie is out of the bottle. Our worry is not an increase in plutonium. We already have plenty of fissionable material to destroy the world several times over.
If a man wants to kill himself by hanging does it make sense to attempt to save him by forbidding the local hardware store from selling him rope when he already has several hundred feet in his garage and can buy from numerous other sources if desired?
A much better solution is to help him solve his internal problems so he will be at peace with himself.
Even so, the banning of breeder reactors for commercial purposes will not prevent the world from committing suicide if that is what they decide to do. We have the power to destroy ourselves and nothing but the solving of human problems can prevent this from happening. Banning the rope of nuclear power in some isolated area of development does nothing but hinder the economic good of the world which in turn makes nuclear confrontation more probable.
Fact Two. Our main worry concerning nuclear weapons is not from the developed free nations, but from China and rogue states such as Iraq, Iran, North Korea, and terrorists groups.
The United States, Britain and France can breed all the nuclear fuel they need and this will have no influence on the amount of nuclear weapons they will make.
It is not in the interests of the free world or the world itself to export nuclear technology to potential enemy states and this should be avoided at all costs with or without commercial breeder reactors.
What I find hypocritical to Biblical proportions is that Carter and Clinton, who have tied the hands of the United States of its own peaceful nuclear research and development, cooperated together in 1994 to export nuclear technology to North Korea.
Carter made the trip to North Korea to negotiate the deal and because North Koreans “promised” to not use the technology as well as our foreign aid to create bombs we gleefully give them.
How tragic! Clinton and Carter trust the North Koreans with nuclear technology, but have denied it to their own country which they do not trust.
Actually trust of country has little to do with it because, as I said, we have all the materials at hand to make all the bombs we want anyway.
The only motive I can see here for strangling domestic development is their fear of the wrath of nuclear activists.
And speaking of activists – where were they when we were negotiating the export of nuclear technology to the enemy state or North Korea? At the time of Carter’s negotiations I watched the news media for them and saw nothing.
(Written in 2001. Unfortunately today – 2020 – North Korea broke their word and now has nuclear weapons that threaten us.)
I just searched the internet for some sign of protest I may have missed and could find none against this dangerous act.
I did however, find one strong anti nuclear protest concerning North Korea.
The activists raised hell with Taiwan because they were depositing their nuclear waste on a nearby island and demanded it be removed. Well, in the hope of silencing the protesters Taiwan decided to remove the waste and ship it off somewhere. But where? Unfortunately, they can’t just make it disappear into the ethers.
They came up with a humanitarian solution. The people of North Korea were starving and desperately needed money so Taiwan paid them to take it off their hands and bury it there.
This outraged the activists more than ever. They attempted to blockade Taiwan ships and throw every possible difficulty in the path of the transaction.
What was their solution? Return it to the island?
No. They just wanted the waste to go away, but where – no one knows.
Get this. The activists violently protest sending nuclear waste to Korea where it has a chance in a million of hurting anyone, but are silent when we export nuclear technology and plants to Korea where such act creates a risk of around 50% that nuclear bombs will eventually be made which could cost a million lives and untold suffering for the living.
We must cease this mindless emotional reaction and work against dangers real instead of phantom, conjured up, illusionary fears.
Fact Three. The biggest worry of the activists concerning breeder reactors is the production of plutonium 239, but it takes more technical expertise to make a bomb from this than U-235 which is easier to obtain from Uranium ore.
In other words, if a rogue state wants to make a nuclear bomb, it is not likely they will use plutonium, but will most likely use U-235 which is not even a waste product.
If the United States did go ahead with commercial development of breeder reactors the chances of having plutonium stolen by terrorists or a rogue state is close to impossible. The plutonium in a breeder reactor cannot be touched by human hands for it would mean instant death. For one thing the temperature is so high that it would evaporate a body and the radioactivity of the mix would kill. The nuclear materials have to be handled with robotic arms.
Stealing the plutonium would not be like in the movies where the bad guy runs off with a briefcase, but would involve an almost impossible undertaking.
Then, after the plutonium is stolen it would have to be smuggled out of the country and an advanced nuclear technology and equipment would have to be available somewhere in order to make a bomb.
If a rogue state wants to make the bomb, it will have to do it the way Iraq is attempting to do it: build their own reactors, obtain some uranium ore and separate enough U-235 to complete the job.
We have within our grasp and technology the power to create an unlimited supply of power that will, through refinement, have little or no nuclear waste by-product. This energy will be clean, releasing virtually no impurities into our atmosphere, and can pave the way to unlimited electrical energy, even to mass production of electrical vehicles releasing us from dependence on fossil fuels which in turn frees us from the responsibility of going to war over oil as we did in the Gulf War.
Copyright by J J Dewey
Nov 1, 2001
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