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Megatons To Megawatts Program Comes To a Close 125

necro81 writes "In the aftermath of the Cold War, the disintegrating Soviet Union had tens of thousands of nuclear weapons and tons of weapons-grade fissile material. In the economic and political turmoil, many feared that it would fall into unfriendly hands. However, thanks to the doggedness of an MIT professor, Dr. Thomas Neff, 500 metric tons of weapons grade material made its way into nuclear reactors in the United States through the Megatons to Megawatts program. During the program, about 10% of all electricity generated in the U.S. came from weapons once aimed at the country. Now, after nearly 20 years, the program is coming to an end. The final shipment of Soviet-era uranium, now nuclear fuel, has arrived in Baltimore."
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Megatons To Megawatts Program Comes To a Close

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  • Good and bad (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ArcadeMan ( 2766669 ) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @03:28AM (#46097891)

    With computers, we have good and bad CPU designs, good and bad GPU designs, good and bad OS designs.

    Like computers, nuclear power plants come in many designs, some good and some bad. Watch this [wikipedia.org] and learn a bit more, especially about the Integral fast reactor [wikipedia.org] design.

    I'm all for green power, but let's not forget that right now solar panels are not terribly efficient and very resource-intensive during the manufacturing process, wind farms don't work without wind (duh) and kill birds, etc. Each choice has drawbacks and from the numbers given in this film, if they are accurate, we'd be insane not to use nuclear power plants as long as they're IFR-type.

  • by nojayuk ( 567177 ) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @07:10AM (#46098563)

    The US has a large stockpile of weapons-grade material (U-235 and also Pu-239) from decommissioned nuclear weapons produced in the 1960s when it had over 30,000 weapons ready for use. It now has about 5000 warheads, most in reserve (i.e. not ready for immediate use or kept as "junk box" units that could be refurbished given the need, will and funding). The ready-for-use warhead count is about 2,200 or so.

    They don't need to divert this ex-Soviet material to make more weapons, they don't need more weapons, they don't have the launchers and platforms to carry more weapons and they don't have the facilities or funding to pay for new weapons to be built and besides the uranium arriving in America has already been downblended to fuel-level enrichment (probably 4 or 5%) from the original 90% or so of the original weapon cores.

    That's how we know the US didn't use it for their own weapons.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @07:29AM (#46098627)

    He's talking out of his ass.

Man is an animal that makes bargains: no other animal does this-- no dog exchanges bones with another. -- Adam Smith