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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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  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @02:22PM (#45662137)

    Our proven uranium reserves would last us over 200 years at current consumption; Well beyond the life expectancy of any of our reactors. The only reason for this program was to provide a failing country with a cheap way of disposing of highly hazardous materials without losing face. It is the proverbial "turning a negative into a positive". It will have zero effect on our energy costs or programs.

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

    by SirGarlon (845873) on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @02:29PM (#45662233)
    It's not a matter of being more trusted. It's a matter of the US going to the trouble to negotiate a deal with Russia to dispose of the unneeded fissionable material. France, UK, Japan, etc. could have done it instead ... if they had tried.
  • by QuantumPion (805098) on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @02:39PM (#45662343)

    Our proven uranium reserves would last us over 200 years at current consumption; Well beyond the life expectancy of any of our reactors. The only reason for this program was to provide a failing country with a cheap way of disposing of highly hazardous materials without losing face. It is the proverbial "turning a negative into a positive". It will have zero effect on our energy costs or programs.

    Zero effect, eh?

    An oil sheik farts in the wrong direction and gas prices go up by 10 cents a gallon, creating hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue instantly.

    What in the FUCK makes you think the powers-that-be won't take this non-story and turn it into the next US energy crisis to justify a 20% increase in costs?

    Sorry for being so harsh, but your last statement there pegged my bullshit meter.

    The small increase in nuclear fuel price due to the ending of this program is insignificant. Fuel price is only a small cost of nuclear power, and enrichment cost only a fraction of that. The real problem for nuclear power is the bottoming out of energy prices due to the huge oversupply of natural gas from fracking. The latter being responsible for the closing of two power plants this year.

  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @02:58PM (#45662573)

    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.

    False. "Uranium reserves available at up to $100 per pound of U3O8 represented approximately 23 years worth of demand, while uranium reserves at up to $50 per pound of U3O8 represented about 10 years worth of demand. Domestic U.S. uranium production, however, supplies only about 10 percent, on average, of U.S. requirements for nuclear fuel"
    Source [eia.gov]. Domestic US production gives us 23 years of demand at 100% capacity. It is currently at 10% capacity. Conclusion: About 230 years.

    A second estimate [world-nuclear.org] looking at global supply had this to say: "Thus the world's present measured resources of uranium (5.3 Mt) in the cost category around present spot prices and used only in conventional reactors, are enough to last for about 80 years. This represents a higher level of assured resources than is normal for most minerals. Further exploration and higher prices will certainly, on the basis of present geological knowledge, yield further resources as present ones are used up." It goes on to state "This is in fact suggested in the IAEA-NEA figures if those covering estimates of all conventional resources (U as main product or major by-product) are considered - another 7.6 million tonnes (beyond the 5.3 Mt known economic resources), which takes us to 190 years' supply at today's rate of consumption."

    200 years is an accurate assessment given available data. Your assessment is based on non-existant technology and substantial change in current industry practices. Mine is based on today's technology, and no change.

  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @03:15PM (#45662757)

    According to this site the average price/kwh has been steadily increasing, doesn't look like it accounts for inflation though.

    Yeah, but the OP was right: This isn't a fuel problem. In truth, it's a NIMBY problem. Nobody wants a power plant built near them, so no new plants are being built. The net result is demand is rising, but supply isn't. That's why the price is going up; It's not because the cost of the inputs have changed. It doesn't matter whether the plants are natural gas, nuclear, coal, solar, or wind... if you can't build one to begin with.

  • Re:And why ... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @03:27PM (#45662879)

    So you admit that your government is doing exactly the same thing and even in exactly the same program as the American government. Funny, then, that you say that Americans are all about spying on everybody, however when it comes to Canada, all you have to say is "yeah, we don't like it either."

    Unless you've been living under a rock, we (American citizens) aren't too happy about the thing as a whole. It doesn't mater which country it is that's behind it; whether our own or another.

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

    by Zordak (123132) on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @05:08PM (#45663897) Homepage Journal

    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?

    No, we really don't. Nuclear stockpiles are a fraction of 1% of their cold war peaks (I calculated it once, but don't remember the exact number). I believe our silo-based missiles in the U.S. are down to 150 single-warhead Minuteman IIIs, at around 300 kT each. That's about 450 MT, which is still a lot of destructive power, but the largest single device ever detonated was 50 MT all by itself, and was supposedly capable of being boosted to 100 MT.

    And the OP entirely missed the point: This was not "giving" new nukes to the U.S. This was taking old nukes out of circulation and using them for energy. Using your analogy, this is going from 100x to 99x or lower, not the other way around.

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