[ RadSafe ] Russia Today piece on US Military Microreactor development buy - Pentagon’s latest scam for tax-payers’ money; dangerous, costly portable nuclear reactors

Roger Helbig rwhelbig at gmail.com
Sat Mar 14 09:20:56 CDT 2020

I doubt that this Russia Today "expert" is that expert when he equates
the SL-1 to a modern micro-reactor design, but he does not tell the
viewer that the SL-1 was a very old design or the causes for the

Roger Helbig

https://www.rt.com/news/482942-us-military-nuclear-microreactor/ 13 Mar, 2020

Pentagon’s latest scam for tax-payers’ money; dangerous, costly
portable nuclear reactors

by Christina MacPherson

Pentagon hands out contracts for PORTABLE nuclear reactors... yet
another gold vein for cash-savvy military?
https://www.rt.com/news/482942-us-military-nuclear-microreactor/ 13
Mar, 2020 There's no shortage of hefty defense deals awarded by the US
Department of Defense, but the $40 million contract for micro-reactors
definitely stands out, as it hides safety risks and raises doubts over
its economic efficiency.

The nuclear device that the DoD strategists want must have the
capability to be safely and rapidly transported by road, rail, sea or
air (sic!) as well as swiftly set up and shut down. The project split
between three companies — BWX Technologies, Westinghouse Government
Services and X-energy — calls for a "safe, mobile and advanced nuclear

The safety part sounds particularly soothing, but how would it look on
the ground? What if those miniature reactors, when moved by land,
become targets of high-profile terrorist attacks? And will it prove to
be a real alternative (which means cheaper price, of course) to
conventional energy sources?

'The more reactors — the greater the danger'

"Any nuclear reactor attracts terrorists," Andrey Ozharovsky, nuclear
scientist, program expert at the Russian Social Ecological Union, told
RT. "It doesn't matter if it's located at a nuclear power plant [or
inside a portable device]... if you remember, the terrorists planned
directing one of the planes at a nuclear plant during 9/11."

The logic here is simple, he pointed out: "the more reactors are out
there — the greater the danger." If the US builds hundreds, or even
dozens of such devices, it'll be really hard for them to properly
defend them all.

Another vital safety issue is the reliability of the nuclear
micro-reactors. Interestingly enough, the US military had already
experimented with them back in the 1950s and 1960s — and it ended in a

Several portable reactors were built and setup in Greenland and
Panama, but one of them blew up in 1961, killing three operators. The
Army Nuclear Power Program was shut down shortly after that.

"There were eight US micro-reactors and one of them exploded. That's
how safe they are," Ozharovsky said, adding that the Pentagon's idea
of bringing them back will "likely create more risks instead of
solving any problems."

'Micro-reactors yet to prove their economic efficiency'

But even if the portable reactors will be shielded from the perils of
the battlefield and operate without failure, what's the Pentagon's
rationale behind bringing the radioactive fuel to their military
bases? For decades, the army had been successfully running on
gasoline, diesel and fuel oil; when going off-grid, it would switch to
generators and high-power accumulators.

"The main problem has nothing related to safety," Anton Khlopkov,
director of Energy and Security Center and member of Russian Security
Council's Scientific Council argued.

Micro-reactors must prove their viability from the economic point of
view, since such plants always have alternatives.

It is yet to be proven that micro-reactors won't be "many times more"
expensive than other conventional sources of energy. Electricity
produced by such devices should be at least comparable in cost to the
one produced by diesel generators, he said.

'Some kind of a soap bubble'

If micro-reactors are such a questionable solution, why is the
Pentagon pushing for their development? The answer isn't lying on the
surface, but it isn't buried too deep.

"They work against the trends," Ozharovsky suggested. And those trends
are that the world is giving up on the use of civilian nuclear energy
due to being too expensive.

Washington may be trying to "support the US the nuclear industry
that's dying out with the use of the military budget; sponsor their
research and development — which is an expensive thing."

Ozharovsky didn't rule out the possibility that the whole thing "is
some kind of a soap bubble." The research will be made, some
prototypes may even be put together, but no actual mini-reactors will
be ordered by the Pentagon, he said.

The DoD's was never shy to spend the US taxpayer dollars: its F-35
program was worth a whopping $1.4 trillion in procurement and
operating costs over its lifetime, while Pentagon also acquired such
items of prime necessity as... $640 toilet seats and $7,600 coffee
makers. The micro-reactors may well become another entry in this
wasteful list.

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