[ RadSafe ] MIT nuclear study stirs controversy Thank you for the summary

Ahmad Al-Ani ahmadalanimail at yahoo.com
Thu Sep 23 05:27:01 CDT 2010

Parthasarathy, can you please elaborate further on your following statement?

"No country has to go through the nuclear power route to produce nuclear weapons!"

Many misled or word twister journalists and politicians are drumming up for military actions against nuclear power facilities in Iran. Perhaps it is our responsibility as scientists to clarify the connection, or the lack of it.


On Thu, 23 Sep 2010 09:45 AST parthasarathy k s wrote:

>Dear Sandy
>Thank you for the good summary on the developments in the policy on spent fuel 
>Else where,  we noted that South Africa has fully withdrawn its support to PBMR. 
>Clearly economic consideration prevailed. So long as possession of nuclear 
>warheads remains the monopoly of a few, total nuclear disarmament will be a 
>distant dream. No country has to go through the nuclear power route to produce 
>nuclear weapons!
>Fresh thinking on acceptable fuel cycle strategy is desirable. After all the 
>present development from nuclear submarine reactors to PWRs, BWRs etc was not 
>logical. It was not dictated on the basis of any specific strategy.
>India chose closed fuel cycle with a three stage power programme as the ore 
>grade of the uranium resources in India at 0.06 % was very low. Nuclear power 
>costing may be arguably very dicy. The fast reactor- enthusiasts in India 
>believe that power from breeder will be comparable to the PHWRs of that time. 
>If the development of breeder reactors is tied on to economics, progress will be 
>insignificant as universally available natural uranium sources can feed the 
>conventional nuclear power programme for the next 100 years 
>From: "Perle, Sandy" <SPerle at mirion.com>
>To: The International Radiation Protection (Health Physics) Mailing List 
><radsafe at health.phys.iit.edu>; "powernet at hps1.org" <powernet at hps1.org>
>Sent: Thu, 23 September, 2010 2:58:29
>Subject: [ RadSafe ] MIT nuclear study stirs controversy
>MIT nuclear study stirs controversy
>September 22, 2010
>The commercial development of spent fuel reprocessing and fast reactors by other 
>nations will leave the U.S. behind
>An MIT study finds no shortage of uranium for nuclear energy, but recommends 
>against recycling spent nuclear fuel. Instead, scientists at the prestigious 
>university call for a sustained R&D program worth nearly $700 million a year. 
>That's some sandbox.
>Meanwhile, David Jones, Vice President of Used Fuel Management at Areva, argues 
>that recycling spent nuclear fuel is a proven solution that is cost competitive 
>and reduces proliferation concerns.
>And Stephen Turner, an expert on spent nuclear fuel, told this blog Sept 21 that 
>U.S. private industry will not wait for the U.S. government to make up its mind. 
>Speaking at the annual meeting of the National Fabrication Consortium held in 
>Cleveland, he said:
>"These firms have developed the business case for spent fuel reprocessing. They 
>will pull the pin when the market is ready."
>Confirming Turner's view, Areva's Jones told this blog the firm wants to build 
>an 800 ton/year plant.
>Conservative is not a challenge
>The MIT study claims to "challenge conventional assumptions" about nuclear 
>energy, but, in fact, it is very conservative in its findings. It says the U.S. 
>is in no hurry to solve the problem of disposal of high level radioactive waste 
>nor should it rush into investments in fast reactors. It recommends against any 
>investment in recycling spent nuclear fuel.
>Studies like this hit the desks of policy makers in Washington, like the current 
>Blue Ribbon Commission, with a big impact. The reason is they are filling a 
>vacuum created by Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) who shot down the 
>Yucca Mountain project as the price for his support of the Obama 
>Administration's legislative initiatives. As a result there is no policy for 
>spent fuel in Washington.
>Getting back to the wide-ranging recommendations of the report, it addresses 
>economics, current and future fuel cycles, waste management, nonproliferation, 
>and an ambitious R&D program. Highlights include:
>Eliminate financial risk premiums for 7-10 new reactors to keep the price under 
>$4,000/kw. Once they are built, assuming they come in on time/budget, future 
>reactors will be cost competitive with coal and natural gas.
>Keep the once-through fuel cycle using LWR reactors for the rest of this 
>Develop a central disposal site for spent nuclear fuel with a transition period 
>of 50-100 years. Establish a quasi-government firm to take over management of 
>spent fuel.
>Invest in R&D at the rate of $700 million/year for up to 50 years to determine 
>if fast reactors, or anything else, can be designed that make economic sense.
>Where has the U.S. been the past 20 years?
>Charles Forsberg, one of the scientists on the MIT team, said in a statement 
>there has been very little research on the fuel cycle for the past 30 years. 
>Considering that Massachusetts Senator John Kerry led the effort in the Senate 
>to close out funding for the Integral Fast Reactor, that remark shouldn't be a 
>surprise to anyone.
>Ernest Moniz, another member of the MIT panel, was an Undersecretary at the 
>Department of Energy during the Clinton administration. Then and now his primary 
>concern is getting more of the total inventory of plutonium out of circulation. 
>His overarching focus on nonproliferation drives an almost unreasonable approach 
>to options to manufacture MOX fuel and develop fast reactors. The reason, he 
>says, is that these methods do nothing to reduce total plutonium in the fuel 
>Well, once you decide that's all you're going to do, the rest become easy. In 
>fact, the MOX fuel plant being built in South Carolina will take 34 tons of 
>plutonium out of circulation and put it to good use in conventional LWRs. 
>Worldwide, almost three dozen reactors burn MOX fuel.
>Areva has a different idea
>David Jones, an Areva executive with a long career in spent fuel management for 
>nuclear utilities, said on a conference call with nuclear bloggers last week the 
>MIT recommendations do not support a sustainable nuclear fuel cycle approach 
>that supports nuclear growth scenarios.
>He is critical of MIT's focus on an R&D plan instead of an action plan.
>"This is contrary to what is being done in nearly every other country where this 
>question is addressed up front as a matter of policy."
>He told the bloggers the report also recommends the U.S. offer fuel leasing to 
>other countries, but seems to fail to recognize the credibility issue of this 
>"How can we expect to demonstrate leadership to the world on used fuel 
>management when we cannot decide ourselves if used fuel is a waste or a 
>Why are other nations recycling their fuel? Jones says economics isn't the only 
>"The motivations of other nations, such as France, Japan and the United Kingdom, 
>to recycle are not purely economic but also are informed by questions of energy 
>security, resource conservation, public acceptance and others that reside in the 
>social sciences."
>Jones closed his comments by noting that once again the U.S. has its head in the 
>"Every nation with a significant nuclear power sector, with the exception of the 
>United States, has embraced recycling."
>Separately, speaking in Vienna, Austria, at a 9/20 IAEA meeting, U.S. Energy 
>Secretary Chu called for development of an international fuel bank. Assuming the 
>IAEA administers the fuel bank, and retrogrades the spent fuel from customers, 
>it's an easy bet it won't come back to the U.S., at least not while MIT's report 
>holds sway at the Blue Ribbon Commission.
>Sander C. Perle
>Mirion Technologies
>Dosimetry Services Division
>2652 McGaw Avenue
>Irvine, CA 92614
>+1 (949) 296-2306 (Office)
>+1 (949) 296-1130 (Fax)
>Mirion Technologies: http://www.mirion.com/
>PROPRIETARY INFORMATION NOTICE:   This e-mail message and all attachments 
>transmitted with it are intended solely for use by the addressee and may contain 
>proprietary information of Mirion Technologies and/or its affiliates.  If the 
>reader of this message is not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified 
>that any review, dissemination, distribution, copying or other use of this 
>message is strictly prohibited.  If you have received this message in error, 
>please notify the sender immediately by replying to the message, delete the 
>original message and all attachments from your computer, and destroy any copies 
>you may have made.  Thank you.
>You are currently subscribed to the RadSafe mailing list
>Before posting a message to RadSafe be sure to have read and understood the 
>RadSafe rules. These can be found at: 
>For information on how to subscribe or unsubscribe and other settings visit: 
>You are currently subscribed to the RadSafe mailing list
>Before posting a message to RadSafe be sure to have read and understood the RadSafe rules. These can be found at: http://health.phys.iit.edu/radsaferules.html
>For information on how to subscribe or unsubscribe and other settings visit: http://health.phys.iit.edu


More information about the RadSafe mailing list