[tomorrow: commentary on “new” nuclear power by Jim Riccio from Greenpeace]
Salem Alliance for the Environment has been getting a lot of questions from people about the safety and cost of new designs for nuclear reactors. We got in touch with Edwin Lyman at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a senior scientist in the UCS Global Security Program. He is an expert on nuclear weapons policy, nuclear materials, and nuclear terrorism. His comment on the 2013 film: “Put ‘Pandora’s Promise’ back in the box!”
“…The film also puts forth the Integral Fast Reactor, a metal-fueled fast breeder reactor, as a visionary nuclear reactor design that could solve all of nuclear power’s problems by being meltdown-proof and consuming its own waste as fuel. However, it glosses over the myriad safety and security problems associated with fast-breeder reactors. The film makes much of an experiment conducted at the EBR-II, a fast reactor prototype that purported to demonstrate the safety of the reactor. However, again engaging in cherry-picking, it did not discuss the fact that the tests only simulated some kinds of accidents, and that such reactors are inherently unstable under other conditions. It also does not bother to explain the very real proliferation concern that led the Clinton administration to terminate development of the reactor: the fact that spent fuel reprocessing, needed for the fast reactor fuel cycle, produces large quantities of nuclear weapon-usable materials in forms that are vulnerable to theft. Contrary to its portrayal in the film, reprocessing increases, rather than decreases, the volume of nuclear waste requiring disposal…”
Read the blog post by Edwin Lyman.