Tag Archives: plutonium

The French Connection: plutonium problems in France linked to Duke’s Catawba reactor & the Savannah River Site MOX plant

Hello Savannah River Site watchers –   

SRSOctober 16, 2009 –

 
You may have seen some news about a serious problem at a plutonium facility in Cadarche, France, which is under the control of the Commissariat à l’énergie atomique (CEA, French Atomic Energy Commission).  This facility, the Atelier de Technologie du Plutonium (ATPu), produced plutonium fuel (MOX) and is being cleaned out and decommissioned.  Due to poor accounting methods of the plutonium in the facility, it was discovered that the build-up of plutonium had reached amounts of concern for a nuclear criticality incident, which has been big news in France.  

Without going into more details, I wanted to remind you that the ATPu facility manufactured US test MOX fuel pellets which were inserted into “lead test assemblies” (LTAs) from US weapons-grade plutonium from Los Alamos which had been shipped by sea via the Charleston(SC) Nuclear Weapons Station.  The French-made MOX LTAs were shipped back via Charleston in 2005 and tested in Duke Energy’s Catawba Unit 1 reactor near Rock Hill, SC.  That test failed when the LTAs performed poorly and were withdrawn after two 18-month fueling cycle instead of the three 18-month cycles which were needed.  

The ATPu facility could well have a bit of US plutonium involved in the current incident, but it more importantly reveals just how easy it is to “lose” a serious amount of plutonium in a MOX facility, enough to cause a dreaded unplanned nuclear reaction.  (Are you paying attention, SRS MOX plant backers?)  

Now, with an outage of the Catawba Unit 1 reactor set to start around November 20, has the US plutonium cabal modified the French-manufactured MOX LTAs for reinsertion for that third cycle they missed?  Or, is Duke over with dealing with the shite MOX and now DOE has to continue to scramble to sucker other utilities, like TVA, into using MOX?

Have a plutonium-free day! Tom  Clement,  SRS -Action

News release on the Pu problem from the L’Autorité de sûreté nucléaire (ASN)  – Nuclear Safety Authority:

http://www.asn.fr/incident-nuclear-facility-dealing-plutonium-technology-cea-cadarache-plant

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Officials from DOE’s Office of Environmental Management Push “Energy Parks” at DOE Sites

EM to Aiken/Augusta Community: You want Spent Fuel Storage & Reprocessing at SRS – Go for it and we’ll help you!

DOE-EM meeting, Augusta, Georgia (near Savannah River Site)

March 18, 2009

From Tom Clements
tomclements329@cs.com

As you know, Environmental Management has recently been touting “energy parks” as part of its “footprint reduction” efforts in cleaning up DOE sites and has used this to sell the Obama folks on throwing $6 billion in stimulus funds at EM. They have presented this concept in various papers and at individual Site Specific Advisory Board meetings around DOE sites, including with the Savannah River Site SSAB.

(See EM paper: http://www.energyca.org/PDF/FootprintReduction.pdf)

Now, the top folks at EM have gone live with the idea and pushed it strongly at a national meeting of heads of local Site Specific Advisory Boards, which met on March 18 & 19 in Augusta, Georgia (near the Savannah River Site). The idea is that once clean up is done, a work force with active experience in nuclear projects could then be deployed on energy projects.

At the SSAB meeting, both the Acting Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management, Ines Triay, nominated last week by Obama to the asst. secretary position, and one of her deputy assistant secretaries spoke about the “energy park” concept in glowing and supportive terms. As they tried to explain use of the $6 billion in EM stimulus funds – sounds like “accelerated clean up” déjà vu – they underscored that the money would not only help with clean up, shorten the time line for clean up but then result in using the sites for “energy parks.” (She also said some communities around DOE sites may want to choose “real estate ventures.”)

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