Seventy Years of Nuclear Fission: Short on Confidence; Long on Waste

By: Tuesday January 29, 2013 12:55 pm

On December 2, 1942, a small group of physicists under the direction of Enrico Fermi gathered on an old squash court beneath Alonzo Stagg Stadium on the Campus of the University of Chicago to make and witness history. Uranium pellets and graphite blocks had been stacked around cadmium-coated rods as part of an experiment crucial to the Manhattan Project–the program tasked with building an atom bomb for the allied forces in WWII.

 

The Party Line – September 16, 2011: Though Nuclear Crisis Continues, IAEA Can’t Force Safety Overhaul

By: Friday September 16, 2011 3:26 pm

On Monday, September 12, an incinerator explosion at a French nuclear waste processing center killed one, injured four, and created just enough nuclear news to edge this week’s other nuclear story right out of the headlines.

The explosion, which is reported not to have caused any leak of radiation, was at a facility that reprocesses used nuclear reactor fuel in order to create a more toxic, less stable form of fuel commonly known as “mixed oxide” or MOX. MOX, which is a tasty blend of uranium and plutonium, was in at least some of the rods in some of the reactors at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi facility when it suffered catastrophic failures after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami–and the presence of MOX fuel made the fallout from explosions at the Japanese plant more dangerous as a result. (More dangerous than already extremely dangerous might seem like a trivial addendum, but it is of note if for no other reason than the manufacture and use of MOX fuel is what nuclear power proponents think of when they call it a “renewable resource.”)

Japan Nuclear Disaster Update: Where Did the Water Radiation Come From at Unit 3?

By: Friday March 25, 2011 7:00 am

Concerns on Friday focused on (1) the continuing spread of radiation in Fukushima and surrounding prefectures, with local citizens anxious to evacuate areas beyond the mandated 20 kilometer radius and (2) the inability of the government either to gain control of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi reactors or to explain the exact source and nature of the continuing radiation leaks.

Why Fukushima’s “Spent” Fuel Rods Will Continue to Catch Fire

By: Tuesday March 15, 2011 7:13 pm

Yesterday the spent fuel rod pool at Fukushima Daiichi reactor 4 caught fire. About that time instruments at the plant showed an exponential increase in radiation levels. After the fire was quenched, radiation levels fell. In the hour before I sat down to write this, there was an explosion at the same spent fuel rod pool. As I write, another fire is burning there. NHK reports the radiation level – 300 to 400 milliSieverts – is so high that firefighters cannot approach the area.

Nuke Engineer: Fuel Rod Fire at Fukushima Reactor “Would Be Like Chernobyl on Steroids”

By: Monday March 14, 2011 2:00 pm

When the nuclear engineer from an identical plant states there’s any possibility of such a catastrophe, Washington, we have a problem. Chernobyl’s contamination settled upon people and nations thousands of miles from that reactor’s location. How far would “Chernobyl on steroids” travel? And where are the up to 20 years of reactor no 1 spent fuel rods that could cause such a problem?

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