After recently discussing the plutonium and MOX fuel situation in Japan's nuclear reactors, in particular to Fukushima's reactor no. 3, I thought this next topic interesting. It regards the MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility almost due to commence in the Savannah River Site near Aiken, South Carolina.
The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) states on their website that "Operations are set to begin at the MOX facility in 2016. The MOX facility will help provide a pathway out of South Carolina for the surplus plutonium brought to SRS for disposition."
What is MOX Fuel?
Now MOX stands for a mixed oxide fuel. It is a lethal cocktail of plutonium and uranium oxides. Actually nuclear plants and nuclear weapons produce and use the isotope plutonium - 239 (pu-239), which has a half-life of approximately 24,000 years. Others say 240,000. Actually one pu isotope has a half-life of 6 million years. It's a good thing we can't put THAT in reactors or weapons.
Unlike other radioactive isotopes, it is understood that plutonium and MOX fuel is extremely toxic in smaller dosages over other commonly known nuclear isotope varieties. For instance, if Fukushima had a complete meltdown, the consequences would be far worse than Chernobyl ever was due its reactor no.3 MOX potentiality. Of course, this is an educated guess based merely on scientific theory, because we've yet had a major meltdown of this magnitude with a MOX fuel.
Mox Fuel Does Not Get Rid of the Problem
Understandably, the gestalt of the huge facility known as the Savannah River Site was premised on nuclear security by way of getting rid/processing nuclear weapon waste, which is a noble cause. However, you cannot get rid of nuclear waste. These facilities are merely recycling the waste into a toxic oxide fuel (MOX), which will then be generated within nuclear plants like Fukushima, and the waste continues. More waste is generated and this new waste byproduct needs to be released somewhere, except preferably into the environment. So in fact, nothing is resolved pertaining to the nuclear lifespan.
Today, I read several journalistic reports stating there is no such facility in the USA, and that plants don't use MOX fuel in the USA either. Maybe they just forgot to mention the Savannah River Site Facility scheduled to commence 2016? Maybe not ...It will be interesting which direction this facility will go in in the months ahead.
MOX Fuel is Not a Commodity
However,as I stated already, the goal was to destabilize these waste products from ever being utilized as nuclear weapons ever again. The problem is, especially after Fukushima, the road paved in good intentions isn't always what it seems to be. And, as I mentioned in previous postings the last few days, nuclear waste is not a commodity. But it's about to become such in the USA, in 2016 situated in South Carolina.
Not only is the proliferation of MOX fuel condoning the myth that nuclear waste is a commodity, but the facility has taken years to build, has employed thousands and will guarantee 10's of thousands more work in the coming days. I call that a commodity of gigantic proportions.
Take a look at this huge facility in this video. I was watching it and the sinking of the 'TITANIC" just kept coming to mind.
Photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth which can make them come back again.-Henri Cartier-Bresson-