Legislation known as the Thorium Energy Security Act, introduced in Congress last month by U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R., Ala.), would put a halt to the destruction of U.S. stockpiles of uranium-233 and instead would foster its integration into the development of thorium molten salt–cooled reactors, Newsweek reported last week. The act has been referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
Currently, under the Department of Energy’s Defense Environmental Cleanup Program, established during the George W. Bush administration, all thorium stockpiles are to be destroyed by the end of 2025 in order to free up storage space.
Green and efficient: Tuberville’s motivation in introducing the legislation is to promote the clean energy of nuclear power, as well as to prevent the United States from falling behind China and Russia in the race to provide sustainable power. The senator (and former college football coach) says, “We want to be greener, but we want to be efficient,” according to the article.
The Thorium Energy Alliance estimates that there “is enough thorium in the United States alone to power the country at its current energy level for over 1,000 years.” However, Tuberville points out that as the United States has been destroying its U-233 supplies (much of which is stored at Oak Ridge National Laboratory), China has begun constructing nuclear reactors powered by thorium and is also considering using it to power its aircraft carriers.
In addition, given that the U.S. imports 79 percent of the uranium used in its nuclear power plants, Tuberville goes on to remark, “We don’t want to be using Russia’s uranium. . . . We don’t want to go to Russia to buy [thorium]. Just think about the national security for this.”