Open Letter to Secretary of Energy Steven Chu
Pro-nuke euphoria followed President Obama’s generally welcomed pronouncement supporting nuclear power and your Facebook posting, http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=336162546856&comments#!/notes.php?id=79707582290
There is talk of a renaissance and environmentalists’ recognition that nuclear power can provide large amounts of carbon-free power that is always available.
But what is the status of your infrastructure from decades of decline?
Medical imaging is entering a crisis. Moly99, a reactor produced medical isotope is just becoming unavailable. 40,000 procedures a day are coming to a grinding stop. The U.S has no domestic supply for 40,000 procedures a day, and two international reactors have failed, simultaneously.
The Department has known of this deficiency since the 2001 Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement evaluation of the reactor infrastructure needed for medical isotopes.
Our deep space probes will remain at home because the Department cannot produce the Pu-238 required for space power because there is no domestic research reactor.
New civilian reactor concepts like the Traveling Wave, Pebble Bed, Molten Salt, etc,, require fuel and material testing for design and certification but there is no domestic reactor for such tests.
Many have asked the Department, “Isn’t it time to bring back the Fast Flux Test Facility (FFTF)?”
The FFTF sits in cold standby, with deactivated systems, but maintained with protective argon gas.
You recently wrote,
“The closed fuel cycle cannot be implemented without a fast neutron spectrum…research is needed now to provide options for future policymakers…other nations are pursuing the technology…If the United States does not have a broad fast reactor research program we will have no opportunity to influence design of these foreign reactors from a vital national security perspective such as proliferation resistance.”
The FFTF now remains preserved giving “options for future policymakers.” This fully licensed test reactor has a certified 20 year full-power core life. Deactivated, yes; preserved, yes; and, recoverable, yes.
Will your upcoming Decision destroy the FFTF?