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Program to Use Russian Nukes for US Electricity Comes to an End 148

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the how-about-u.s.-nukes-now dept.
gbrumfiel writes "For the past two decades, about 10 percent of all the electricity consumed in the United States has come from Russian nuclear warheads. Under a program called Megatons to Megawatts, Russian highly-enriched uranium was pulled from old bombs and made into fuel for nuclear reactors. NPR News reports that the program concludes today when the last shipment arrives at a U.S. storage facility. In all nearly 500 tons of uranium was recycled, enough for roughly 20,000 warheads."
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Program to Use Russian Nukes for US Electricity Comes to an End

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  • Re:And why ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by istartedi (132515) on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @02:36PM (#45662311) Journal

    Really? REALLY??? Do you have any idea what was happening in Russia after the USSR fell apart? They were in some serious economic trouble. Securing nuclear assets was of vital importance not just to us, but to them and the entire world. If anything we didn't do enough. I heard there were RTGs left to rust in Siberia. Some of their naval nukes were also mothballed under questionable circumstances.

    I'm the first to admit that the USA's actions aren't always for the best; but not in this case.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @02:41PM (#45662371)

    I like your post, but it propagates a myth due to severe omission. I'd like to correct it.

    The big problem is, you're off by a factor of 100.

    Our current fuel cycle is once-through. Thus, new fuel enters the reactor at 100% capacity, and when "spent" leaves the reactor at around 98% capacity.

    "Known reserves" is also problematic, as it means those reserves that we know about and can recover for the same price as the market currently prices Uranium at. In a multi-billion dollar plant, a doubling of the cost of fuel does not translate into a dollar more per year worth of overall cost increase.

    I will restate your phrase for accuracy - "Our proven reserves at current economic recovery rates, with appropriate fuel re-use, will last us over 10,000 years."
    An addendum - "Allowing for a reasonable increase in the cost of fuel, and including known reserves of Thorium, we have nuclear fuel for fission reactors for 100,000 years. This assumes healthy annual growth in Humanity's overall energy consumption levels."

    You are correct on your point that Russian warhead fuel is a two birds with one stone proposition - it is a cheap source of ready-to-use fuel, and it helps reduce the number of old warheads lying around in old soviet bunkers.

  • Re:And why ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Peristaltic (650487) * on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @02:55PM (#45662537)

    Yes, apparently you wiretap the internet and install the video cameras.

    Who, specifically, are the two of you referring to when you say "you" and "we"? All Americans? Really?

    Yes sir, no Americans "just talk big" on the internet as they rave into video cameras, and all Americans support "wiretapping the internet" as we giggle our asses off installing the video cameras... and all Irish are drunks, all Brits have bad teeth and all Muslims are terrorists.

    You really put your names on this shit? Both of your posts are sense-free trolls. Give it a rest.

  • Re:And why ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @03:08PM (#45662677) Homepage

    Not saying all Americans support this, but it's done in your name by your government. Often against the laws of the country where it happens (which apparently are deemed irrelevant by your laws).

    So, like it or not, these are things America is currently doing right now.

    Sadly, my country is one of the Five Eyes, and I need to accept that Canada is doing this as well. I don't like it either, but that doesn't change that it's happening in my name or that I wish it wasn't.

    But when someone says "ZOMG, teh Canajuns are doing teh spying (eh)" -- the best we can say is "yeah, we don't like it either".

    Unfortunately, when our politicians act like douchebags, it reflects on us all. And, sadly, I suspect in many countries where this is occurring those of us who disagree with it are vastly outnumbered by the ones who think that it's OK.

    But if you think that still doesn't create some negative backlash against a country in general, you're fooling yourself. If most of your country believes this is OK and what you should be doing, well, then on balance, the whole country bears the blame for it.

  • Re:And why ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ackthpt (218170) on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @03:20PM (#45662807) Homepage Journal

    The US is a leader because we don't just talk big on the internet and rave into video cameras.

    Yes, once in a while we actually do something right. Buying the Uranium, which largely gave the substance a safe direction to travel, and a cash reward for compliance worked out well.

    Although, in 1995 I was in Prague when the news carried a story about a car being discovered with 6 pounds of enriched Uranium scooting around town. I was pretty alarmed because the people were evidently looking for a buyer.

  • Re:And why ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Millennium (2451) on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @03:40PM (#45662997) Homepage

    Trust has very little to do with it. The people who have these weapons have them. The best that can be hoped for is a process of disarmament that does not cause too much damage if trust is broken, and one which prevents other parties from gaining the weapons and thus becoming risk factors in and of themselves.

    That said, this particular program was an ingenious way of proving that these weapons were destroyed. It put the most critical parts -what actually makes these things nuclear weapons- through a relatively open, transparent, and auditable process that rendered them, if not precisely inert, then at least unsuitable for use in weapons. Trades of this sort should be more common among countries decreasing their stockpiles.

  • Re:And why ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Charliemopps (1157495) on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @03:59PM (#45663161)

    And why do we feel the US is more trusted with this than anybody else?

    Because we already have enough warheads to destroy the entire planet 100x over? How is a bit more Uranium going to help us? So we can destroy it 101x over?

  • Re:And why ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Grim Reefer (1162755) on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @04:12PM (#45663295)

    the best we can say is "yeah, we don't like it either".

    Unfortunately, when our politicians act like douchebags, it reflects on us all. And, sadly, I suspect in many countries where this is occurring those of us who disagree with it are vastly outnumbered by the ones who think that it's OK..

    I don't think so. I have a feeling that those who don't like it do out number those who find such behavior appalling. The problem is, is that it doesn't seem there is any way to fix it within the framework any longer. The politicians/lawyers have warped and twisted the system to the point that it no longer serves "we the people" but the politicians themselves. I'm sure it probably always did to a point, but it's almost palpable now. Sadly we don't even have a good option for who to vote for any longer. Our last two presidents were voted into office on good wishes and little else. Bush was going to be reach across the aisle and work with both parties and focus on internal matters and avoid "nation building" and deficit reduction... Our current president was going to close Gitmo, cure global warming and give us unicorns and rainbows. My father has gotten to the point that he simply votes against whomever the incumbent is. If the incumbent is running unchallenged, he uses the write in.

    I hope I'm wrong, but I fear we have crossed the line where things can be fixed in a peaceable manner. I don't think we've come to the point where it will take an all out revolt to fix things. But I do fear there may come a time where riots will start occurring. Or even worse, the American people have become so complacent and distracted, that all of the diversions will keep us placated indefinitely. Then we are truly lost.

  • by spmkk (528421) on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @04:35PM (#45663535)
    If I'm reading the article right, that entire supply of fuel-grade uranium set us back a total of $17B. If we can produce 10% of our nation's power for 20 years (i.e. supply 2 years' worth of our country's TOTAL electricity needs) on half of what Apple brings in per quarter, why on earth are we bothering with wind farms and solar arrays?
  • Re:And why ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @04:44PM (#45663623) Homepage

    I hope I'm wrong, but I fear we have crossed the line where things can be fixed in a peaceable manner.

    I believe the time has long since passed where nothing except peaceful means and working within the system will be effective in causing change in some countries.

    Between the fact that they can monitor everything you do, use terrorism laws to detain you without trial, and have a huge imbalance in terms of force available to them -- the days a revolt being anything other than a suicide pact are long gone.

    Any attempts at anything more drastic will only allow them to say "see, terrorists". Unfortunately, they seem quite unwilling to listen to protests and reasoned debate.

    Ideally, opinion and policy swing back the other way and things get better. I, like you, fear they won't -- but hopefully countries start to realize you don't need to get as far down the path as needing an armed revolt to adhere to what were your starting principles.

    One would like to hope that civil disobedience and less violent means are still viable. And maybe that's truly naive, but the alternative is terrifying: if Western democracies have to resort to armed insurrection, it's all pretty much downhill from there. Because every piss-pot dictator will say "but see, you do the same thing", and the world as we know it will have changed for the worse.

    And, sadly, for a lot of people as long as their day to day lives are mostly the same, they're never going to understand why this is happening and not going to side with it. Ideally, you exhaust all other options before resorting to anything more drastic.

    One would like to hope there's still some shreds of enlightenment and finding a better way available to us.

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