By Keith Gunter

Before Fukushima, before Chernobyl, before Three Mile Island, there is the legendary story of Fermi-1: “We Almost Lost Detroit.” It was the title of the popular nuclear power primer by John Fuller and the classic and famous anti-nuclear anthem by the late Gil-Scott Heron.

On October 5, 1966, the Fermi-1 experimental fast breeder reactor (designed to produce plutonium) suffered a partial meltdown when a piece of zirconium plating became dislodged by the flow of the reactor’s liquid sodium coolant. The melting of the highly-enriched uranium fuel was an extremely precarious situation and it would be nearly nine years before the harrowing story would be made public in Fuller’s account. Continue reading “FERMI-1 AT 50: ACCIDENTS WILL HAPPEN”

More than a TAD

Commonsense at the Nuclear Crossroads, an anti-nuclear group located in Asheville, North Carolina, has commissioned a report on plans for transport and reprocessing (falsely advertised as “burning up”) high-level nuclear waste. The report is available for free viewing and/or downloading.

This is a big and dangerous deal. Quoting from the report’s executive summary:

The DOE has proposed purchasing Transport, Aging and Disposal (TAD) canisters to handle this waste and has issued specifications for their manufacture. From the data tables it is calculated that, on average, each TAD canister will contain about one and a half times the fissile uranium in the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima, plus about ten times the amount of fissile plutonium in the atomic bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki. The number of these canisters needed to move the waste accumulated at each reactor site is calculated. This indicates the number of loads that would be needed.

Continue reading “More than a TAD”

Life-threatening Issues

We are all downwind.

Let’s imagine – I know this is far-fetched, but for purposes of discussion, we might try it anyhow – a political atmosphere dominated by fear of terrorists and their bombs. There are shoe bombs, pipe bombs, pressure cooker bombs, fertilizer bombs, tannerite bombs, suicide bomb vests, car bombs, truck bombs, improvised explosive devices, drone bombs, commercial airplanes used as bombs …

Whoa, there’s a lot to be worried about. Fear of terrorists and their bombs can be used to make an argument for lots of countermeasures. Obviously, all airplane travelers need to be searched before they board airplanes. Police need to be able to search anyone’s house when they are chasing a possible terrorist. Suspected terrorists who are caught by the police need to disappear into secret prisons forever … Continue reading “Life-threatening Issues”