Plutonium Disposition by “Downblending and Disposal”

Plutonium_ring 211x201The subject of plutonium disposition has a long history that dates back to the end of the Cold War, combining complex technical, policy, and diplomatic issues. A discussion of this history is timely because the Department of Energy recently released a report1 evaluating technological alternatives to the current approach of disposing of plutonium using mixed oxide (MOX) fuel. One option-referred to as "downblending and disposal"-was assessed favorably in terms of cost, timeliness, and technical risk, but it introduces new technical and political challenges. This blog post provides a brief summary of the storied history of plutonium disposition.

TN-Chattanooga participants recognized at ANS Winter Conference

In September 2012, American Nuclear Society members in the Tennessee Valley area turned out in record numbers to support an ANS presence at a public hearing in order to inform the public and media about the nonproliferation benefits of the mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel program. These remarkable volunteer efforts were recognized in several venues at the 2012 ANS Winter Conference & Technology Expo, including the ANS Public Information (PI) Committee meeting, the ANS Board of Directors, and the ANS PI Workshop hosted by Mimi Limbach of Potomac Communications and Craig Piercy, ANS rep in Washington, D.C. The decision was made at the PI Workshop to designate the official name of the Chattanooga hearing as the "Chattanooga Caper."

The future of nuclear at #MOXChat

On September 11, the National Nuclear Security Administration (U.S. Department of Energy) hosted a public meeting in Chattanooga, Tenn., concerning its Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on the disposition of surplus weapons-grade plutonium as mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel for use in power reactors. You may have seen the ANS Call to Action for the hearing and perhaps read the ANS position statement or background information.

Intermission blogging

The draft SEIS meeting for disposition of surplus weapons plutonium in MOX fuel started out relatively smoothly-lots (and I mean lots) of pro-nuclear folks in the room; my initial estimates would put the pro-nuclear folks from the University of Tennessee and Chattannooga State University at over half the crowd present. No zombie sightings as of yet.

Live from Chatanooga - Introductions

Hi folks, Steve Skutnik here-you may know me from The Neutron Economy blog. I'm also currently an assistant professor of nuclear engineering at the University of Tennessee. I'll be here with Suzy Hobbs-Baker (of PopAtomic Studios) and Laura Scheele live-blogging the public hearing on the use of surplus weapons plutonium in MOX fuel. I've also got a healthy contingent of eager students from the University of Tennessee here as well, eager to speak up for the nonproliferation benefits of disposing of surplus plutonium in MOX fuel.

Dr. G. Ivan Maldonado presents ANS comments at TVA Board hearing

On August 16, G. Ivan Maldonado, PhD, Associate Professor of Nuclear Engineering with the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, attended a Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Board Meeting on behalf of the American Nuclear Society to present comments on the use the of mixed uranium-plutonium oxide (MOX) fuel technology to accomplish the timely disposition of surplus weapons-grade plutonium.

ANS's Mark Peters testifies to Congress on recycling used nuclear fuel

On  Wednesday, June 6, Dr. Mark T. Peters appeared on behalf  of the American Nuclear Society before the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific.  Peters is the Deputy Laboratory Director for Programs at Argonne National Laboratory and testified at the invitation of the subcommittee.

ANS's Loewen visits local sections

Eric Loewen, president of the American Nuclear Society, kept up his rapid pace last week as he visited the ANS local section in Aiken, S.C., on February 15, and the one in Charlotte, N.C., on February 16. Loewen, as the featured speaker at the meetings of the two sections, presented his personal talk titled "Plutonium: Promise or Peril".