176 thoughts on “Afghan Disaster part 462

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  • Mod/Clark

    Nuid, thanks for your sensible comment.
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    Komodo and Mary, I again request that, rather than making assumptions about other contributor’s motivations, you ask them questions to discover their opinions.
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    Boniface Goncourt, I want an easy life at present. If that can only be achieved by banning you or deleting your comments on sight…

  • Clark

    Komodo, yes, there are “fast” reactors already. I don’t like fast reactors:

    For maximum safety, nuclear reactions should proceed in a thermal (slowed-down) neutron spectrum because only thermal reactors can be designed to be in their most critical configuration, where any alteration to the reactor configuration (whether through accident or intention) leads to less nuclear reactions, not more. Thermal reactors also afford more options for achieving negative temperature coefficients of reactivity (which are the basic measurement of the safety of a nuclear reactor). Reactors that require neutrons that have not been slowed significantly from their initial energy (fast-spectrum reactors) can always be altered in some fashion, either through accident or intention, into a more critical configuration that could be dangerously uncontrollable because of the increased reactivity of the fuel. Basically, any fast-spectrum reactor that is barely critical will be extremely supercritical if its neutrons are moderated in some way.

    http://flibe-energy.com/introduction/

  • crab

    That comment with TS Eliot is sadly, hatespeak. Would that all hatespeak was dismissed as sickly. That particular kind was illegal. That it is unfairly illegal complicates matters and gives anons crusade to speak out their hates as they do damn wish.

  • Komodo

    Clark, forgive me, but I think this matters. You seem to think that hasbara is a term of abuse. It isn’t. It is merely shorthand, used by pro- and anti- alike, to indicate a missionary desire to promote Israel’s cause while acknowledging none of its faults. It is the objective of many groups, not even necessarily of the same religion. It is the promotion of Zionism with a smiley face.
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    And when I see someone trying to bury discussion of Israel in a historical thread, when the issue surfaces quite naturally in any discussion of the Middle East, of US policy, of nuclear armament, even of finance and its subversion of our political system…and then complaining about the use of the word hasbara? I have agreed to ask rather than accusing, as you suggest, but there are one or two questions I have to ask myself first.
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    I would add that if you ask an Israeli settler trying to block or divert discussion whether he is of the hasbara tendency – and I have done this on another forum – he will deny it, even if he is calling for the levelling of Gaza, the expulsion of the Palestinians, and a New World Order led by Liberman. So, not a lot of point in asking.
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    I did not in any case use the term against Pollok. I might have done, but Mary got there first, and funnier. I did parody his remark that he supposed it was because he was Jewish. I have a nasty sense of humour.

  • Clark

    Komodo, no I don’t think of hasbara as a term of abuse. Your questions don’t have to limit themselves to whether a contributor is hasbara or not. Just draw people out a bit; attitudes will stand or fall on their own merit. Aggressive, expansionist Zionism is a nasty ideology in its own right.

  • Anon

    Komodo,
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    This is not the place for the discussion but virtually all the thorium literature out there is glossy sales stuff. U-233 bred from Thorium behaves very much like plutonium. Thorium itself does not fission.
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    You know that safe Oak Ridge Molten Salt Reactor that often gets mentioned? Well it was so safe it almost went critical and blew up over years after it was shut down.
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    http://www.ornl.gov/info/ridgelines/nov12/msre.htm
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    The reactor facility, called “Ole Salty” by some, was converted to lab and office space as the reactor lay in stand-by status. Then, in March 1994, samples of the off-gases in the process lines unexpectedly revealed uranium hexafluoride (UF6) and fluorine, a highly reactive gas. Where surveyors expected to find part-per-million concentrations, they found concentrations of UF6 of up to 8 percent and fluorine of 50 percent.
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    Engineers then had a more protracted challenge: How to remove both the UF6 that had collected in the piping and the very radioactive and chemically unstable uranium-233 that had collected in charcoal-bed filters for off-gases. Those filters were surrounded by a water-filled chamber, raising concern of a criticality accident that could have spread contamination for miles.
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    Ole Salty may have been quiet for more than 20 years, but there had been ruminations in its old innards.
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    “We discovered a highly hazardous situation in 1994,” Rushton says. “The uranium in the charcoal beds was in an unfavorable geometry that could have led to a chain reaction. If the system had burped, the contamination would have been dispersed over a wide area.

    “The more studies we did, the more they showed that it could happen. There was a significant potential for disaster.”
    ===
    The UK’s first fast breeder (of two at Dounreay) still has fuel rods jammed inside it 35 years after it was shut down. Japan’s Fast Breeder Reactor Programme has been a disaster from start to finish.
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    India’s Thorium reactor research hides a U-233 weapons programme.

  • Jon

    Hi all, trust all here are well.
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    FYI, I’ve removed one or two instances of anti-Jewish racism on this thread. Boniface (and any others similarly inclined), please be aware these will be deleted. @all, in general it is better not to respond to obviously racist posts, so that when said posts are removed, a reading of the conversation by future readers still makes sense.
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    I don’t have a problem with the word ‘hasbara’ – I don’t believe it is offensive in itself. But I can see how it might be used to close conversations down in the same way as accusations of anti-semitism.

  • Komodo

    Anon -thank you for the entertainment re. Old Salty. I have my doubts about the liquid-fuel reactors too. Not least because the behaviour of the construction materials will be unknown until something goes bang. They seem to be putting a lot of faith in Hastelloy and Inconel, but even these have their limits, and the design of molten salt pumps pumping a viciously radioactive, highly reactive liquid safely and continuously at 700C+ has got to be a major challenge. I think you mistake my acceptance of the inevitable for approval!

    Re. thorium, yes, to some extent. Its relative abundance (and the fact the US has large deposits of its own and doesn’t need to invade anyone to get it) is in its favour, as is its incapacity for spontaneous fission…at least what goes into the reactor will be relatively useless for other purposes as you need a neutron source to do anything with it. And its fission efficiency is quite high when you do fire an excess of neutrons at it: only about 10% turns into U-233. A terrorist intending to use thorium per se would need to build a neutron source into his weapon…as this would have to be a fissionable material, rather defeating the objective. U-233 gives you more bang per a.m.u…but a hydrogen bomb gives you a great deal more. I can’t see why any industrial power would be interested in a U-233 bomb. India is still as far as I know trying to get it right, but it hasn’t given up on H yet.
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    Anyhow, can we all please get back to slagging off der (censored)?

  • Anon

    Komodo,
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    You haven’t really got the physics right. Thorium 232 does not fission when hit with a neutron in a reactor. When you start a so called thorium reactor you use many critical masses worth of typically U-235 (weapons grade at that in the case of Fort st. Vrain). Over months/years you breed U-233 from that thorium and slowly the percentage of power output due to fission of U-233 compared to U-235 increases. Just as the percentage output due to plutonium fission increases during the fuel burn in typical common NPP reactors.
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    You cannot build a bomb with Thorium but you can do so very easily with U-233. It is easy to get almost 100% pure U-233 via protactinium-233 decay from a thorium molten salt reactor via protactinium-233 decay. ORNL was doing this with “Old Salty” in 1967 according to their own documents.
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    http://www.ornl.gov/sci/radiation_transport_criticality/HopperPubs/DefWeaponsUsableU-233ORNLTM13517.pdf – definition of weapons usable U-233
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    In terms of weapons designs, 233U is similar to WGP. The IAEA (1993) defines a Category I quantity of 233U in the context of safeguards as 2 kg. This is the same amount as is defined for WGP. In contrast, a Category I quantity of HEU is 5 kg.
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    The development of such special production techniques to produce high-purity, lower-cost 233U occurred after major decisions were made about which weapons materials to use.
    ==============

  • Anon

    I should add the US has one declassified declared U-233 bomb test on 15th April, 1955. The yield was 22 kilotons (and the U-233 was likely nowhere near as pure as can be obtained today)
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    US weapon designers have said there were other tests not declassified.

  • Mary

    The US Dept of ‘Justice’ is pleased at the decision to extradite the six men from the UK just as Cameron is pleased. I expect Hague is pleased as all the other snakes. Clegg too? probably.

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    This is the SuperMax prison where those extradited will likely end up. SuperMax? a sports drink? a large size burger? No a horrible place of torment and horror. Underground cells. See the locals welcomed it and clubbed together to buy the land.
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    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Penitentiary,_Florence_ADX
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    The Florence ‘Supermax’ jail (BBC website)
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    ADX Supermax Florence, Colorado, is also known as the Alcatraz of the Rockies.
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    It is reportedly equipped with 1,400 remote-controlled steel doors, motion detectors, pressure pads and gun towers.
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    Solitary confinement is a regular way of life in supermax regimes, with prisoners locked up for at least 23 hours each day.
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    Supporters say supermaxes are the most appropriate way to house the worst of the worst in the prison population.
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    Critics say they are an affront to human rights and tantamount to torture.

  • Komodo

    Oh, well. Can’t be right all the time I suppose. However, given that 233U ( with its inevitable accompaniment, a small proportion of 232U) is even more dangerous to handle and requires much more containment, than 239Pu, the possibility of its being used in weapons is slightly less, I think. Possibly that is why the nuclear powers haven’t. Contrary to your assumption (ask!) I would not find it easy to build a nuclear weapon which had much chance of killing anyone but me and the occupants of the same building. With 233U, it would be harder still. Also, 232U’s gamma decay screws up electronics, so the firing circuits could be a little unpredictable.
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    I think I was seduced by the idea of a prototype liquid reactor, whose source of priming neutrons to convert 232Th onto U233 is not a fissionable material, but a neutron spallation source. Apparently this is a practicable concept:
    http://www.cavendishscience.org/bks/nuc/thrupdat.htm
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    Whatever. Time for the obligatory reference (twelfth word): http://www.ltbridge.com/assets/19.pdf

  • Komodo

    Yes, I got it subtly wrong, Anon. It happens, though not often…
    No, you could not build a bomb from thorium, though I suspect you could enhance a fusion weapon with it. You could build a bomb from 233U, but it is more lethal than 239Pu from the handling point of view, and its gamma output (from inseparable 232U) would likely make a nonsense of any electronics used to fire it. And just like 239Pu, you’d have to separate it from everything else in the decay chain. Which is probably why only the Yanks seem to have looked at the possibility.
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    (This replaces a lost post, mods feel free to delete the one they like least.)

  • Anon

    Komodo,
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    The Molten Salt Reactor Potactinium-233 decay technique does not create any U-232 so you never have to separate it. You extract Protactinium from the molten salts during circulation (some designs actually require this to be done any way) and less than a month later half of it has turned to U-233. Less than a year later it is virtually 100% U-233. It’s a bomb designer’s dream.
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    Yes I know they tend not to mention this in the sales brochures disguised as Wikipedia entries.
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    Even with the radiological barrier U-232 contamination is a hindrance not a prevention if you are desperate enough and that’s all you have access to.
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    The UK once detonated a near 1 Megaton fission bomb with U-235 (Orange Herald). It wouldn’t surprise me if India (like the US/USSR/UK did before they perfected fusion) has a fallback megaton class fission bomb which it doesn’t have to test to know it works. Might even have a far more efficient U-233 core.
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    Btw, the failed fusion boosting stage in Orange Herald has been said to have been a known fake at the time by some involved. Only the fission bit was expected to work.

  • kashmiri

    Craig, this is your personal vendetta against Karimov. Get real. Indian military has killed tens of thousand civilians in Kashmir in the last 20 years only (around 2,000 people per year, or 6 civilians per day), mostly by torture; has raped thousands of girls and women. Same has been going on in the North-East of India, in Assam, and earlier in Punjab in 1980s. Pakistani police is not much different. When hundreds of women held a demonstration on the streets of Lahore in support of women rights, Pakistani police beat them, tore their clothes off and threatened to rape them. The Chief Justice of Pakistan Ahmad Hameed Dogar has just murdered his daughter in “honour killing”, he is going unpunished (http://farahdogarhonourkilling.wordpress.com/2012/03/21/chief-justice-of-pakistan-abdul-hameed-dogar-kills-his-own-daughter-in-the-name-of-honour).
    Sorry, two guys boiled to death by Karimov, even those few hundreds killed in Andijan in 2005, is not impressive enough and certainly does NOT make him “the world’s most cruel dictator”. Because we don’t get fooled that India is a “democracy”, do we?

  • kashmiri

    You say nothing about UK-Indian relations, or UK-Pakistan relations, even though the extent of abuses committed by the state apparatus there cannot even remotedly compare to what Karimov has done. If you are in Delhi, you might have a look at the GT Road area, just across from where you are probably staying, where *thousands* of girls and women are *forced* into prostitution in extremely inhuman conditions, with complicity of the nearby police post (police patrolling the area will force a women back to brothel should she ever dare to escape).
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    Uzbekistan has also apparently profitted from human trafficking – but has nowhere reached the scale of the crime as it is happening in India.

  • Mary

    The Disgusting Attacks on Gunter Grass
    by Tariq Ali

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    The German writer Gunter Grass (The Tin Drum) had already predicted the response to his poem in SdZ. There is no reason to be surprised, but there is every reason to be disgusted. Within Germany both the elite and a layer of the population by their words and actions appear to have accepted the disgraceful Goldhagen thesis whereby all German were guilty for the crimes of the Third Reich. This thesis has now been developed further: all Germans are guilty for eternity for the crimes of the Third Reich.
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    Behind this thinking is the Zionist and Zionophile argument that the crime against the Jews of Europe was unique in the annals of history. This was true as far as the method of extermination was concerned, but not in any other way. The Belgians massacred the Congolese in greater numbers: over 10 million according to the historian Adam Hochschild. The killing of Armenians during the First World War was systematic and we could go on and discuss the nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but comparing one massacre or genocide to another is a futile exercise. Raul Hilberg the most authoritative historian of the Judeocide was angered by the uses that were being made of that crime today.
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    Some members of the extreme-right government and Lieberman in particular, that rules Israel today have used proto-fascist language against the Palestinian Arabs. Are we not allowed to point that out? That the Israeli government pushed the Bush administration to make war on Iraq is hardly a secret. Nor is the statement of the Israeli Ambassador to the US the day after the fall of Baghdad: “Don’t stop. Move on to Damascus and Teheran.’ Are we not allowed to rebuke him? The targeting and killing of young Palestinians in Gaza and elsewhere is fine, is it?
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    Gunter Grass was very mild in his criticisms. He concentrated on Israeli warmongering in relation to Iran. He could have said a lot more. The fact that it needs political courage to say even what he did in Germany or France is a sad reflection on the political culture of both these countries. As for the attacks on Grass for his wartime activities, these are beneath contempt. The Israelis were delighted when the former Italian minister, Gianfranco Fini, whose party is in lineal descent from Mussolini, went to Israel and praised the Wall. He was forgiven his party’s past. So the past only matters if a person is critical of Israel. The former Nazis in various positions in the postwar Federal republic who pushed through reparations and backed Israel, they were never criticized either.
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    German citizens should ponder the following: it was not the Palestinians who were responsible for the murder of millions of Jews during the Second World War. Yet they, the Palestinians, have become the indirect victims of the Judeocide. Those to whom evil is done, do evil in return to others. So why no sympathy for the Palestinians?
    ~~~~

    /…
    http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/04/10/the-disgusting-attacks-on-gunter-grass/

  • John Goss

    Mary, Dr Michael Powers article about the death of Dr David Kelly, you linked above is very persuasive, not least because he has knowledge of both medicine and law, and in particular, clinical law. Thank you for that.

  • Anon

    What a swamp of moral relativism this thread has become. The sooner people realise that abuse of human rights by whoever it is conducted is unjustifiable and cannot be used as a justification for abuses, or staying silent about those abuses, by those they favour the better. I don’t really care whether or not Karimov is worse that the Indian Govt in Kashmir, whether Cameron sucking up to the Bahraini Royal Family is worse than the hate generated by Abu Hamza or the assault on his own people by Assad, or whether the Israeli govt banning Gunther Grass (and anyone who thinks that he isn’t anti-Nazi clearly hasn’t any idea about the Tin Drum)is any worse than Iran issuing a fatwa against Rushdie fro using his freedom of speech.

    They are all bad and wrong in my book – and it is pretty obvious that there is not one underlying source of evil that needs to be addressed.

  • Rose

    Anon at 8.41 – agree completely. And I think the place to begin addressing the underlying source of evil is within me. Until I admit the capacity for the same disconnection, indifference, cruelty and hatred in my own heart, then I have not a leg to stand on when accusing others. Now how’s that for a mixed metaphor!
    I believe the technical term is metanoia.

  • boniface goncourt

    Komodo, I look forward to your tasteful expression of some of my thoughts as I can no longer be bothered with dweebs and hebes, happy to censor but too scared to own up. This stuff is just guardian-lite. Not many can stomach free speech.

  • pollok

    “Not many can stomach free speech”

    It was hard to tell where your free speech began and your hate speech ended.

  • Mod/Clark

    Am I “too scared to own up”, Boniface? No, I can’t be bothered because your contributions aren’t worth the effort.
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    Pollock, stop replying to Boniface Goncourt as it prevents me deleting his comments. Neither you nor he have contributed any evidence, nor any reasoning that advances any argument.
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    I’m pissed off, and I’ll delete any more of this rubbish on sight. It does occur to me that I can’t prove that the two of you aren’t working as a team.

  • Jives

    @ Boniface Goncourt
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    Why not lose your own inflated ego first?Your posts here are little short of predictably provocative and,frankly,they and you bore me.Free speech,it strikes me,would actually terrify you more than most.

  • Clark

    Jives, thanks for your support. Sorry I’ve orphaned your comment but I’m deleting everything by Goncourt unless he posts something worth interacting with.

  • Clark

    Anon at 10 Apr, 2012 – 2:24 pm, and Komodo, some responses to your criticisms of molten salt reactors. Anon, credit to you for looking up the ORNL documents. Your criticism of the Wikipedia entries seems a bit harsh; if you go and look at the “Talk” pages of the articles you’ll find contributors of various persuasions. But good criticism does seem lacking, at Wikipedia and elsewhere; I know, because I’ve been looking for it. If you can direct me to more I’d be grateful.
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    I don’t think the problem in 1994 that Anon cites is really relevant to the MSR program. Rather, the reactor was never properly decommissioned; instead it was left in a standby condition for thirty years. Anon, do you know of any dangerous situations that occurred while the reactor was running?
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    As to handling of high temperature molten salt, industry routinely handles fluids much hotter than this, in the metals and glass industries, for instance. Molten salt pumps are available as standard kit. They’re not certified for nuclear use, but since there are no MSRs, they wouldn’t be, as yet.
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    Komodo; “the behaviour of the construction materials will be unknown until something goes bang.” – well, MSRs are not pressurised, so they shouldn’t be capable of exploding. Hastelloy seemed to work pretty well for four years; after decommissioning some unexpected surface cracking was found. But for the reaction to continue the molten fuel needs to be contained in an approximately spherical shape; if the plumbing did break, the fuel would disperse on the floor so the nuclear reaction would stop.
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    Yes, at least one U-233 A-bomb was detonated, but in general this is a “diversion of nuclear materials” issue. MSRs would not produce waste U-233 that would need to be transported and then secured, the U-233 remains in the reactor until it is burnt down into fission products.
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    Neither of you have mentioned the major claimed benefit of molten salt fuel. The salts are ionically bonded, whereas oxide based solid fuel is covalently bonded. Covalent bonds are damaged by neutron flux whereas ionic bonds are not. Anon, is neutron flux damage to the fuel rods the reason that “The UK’s first fast breeder […] has fuel rods jammed inside it…”? Incidentally, Wikipedia has no mention of this; you could either edit Wikipedia, or send me references and I’ll do it.
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    Anon, you seem pretty critical of MSRs; are you opposed to nuclear power in general, or do you favour some other reactor design? You seem quite knowledgeable; what about spent fuel waste? Do you think it should be burnt down to fission products in a reactor, or buried, or what?

  • Clark

    Anon and Komodo, I should point out that I’m not advocating that MSR power stations should be built. I’m saying that the ’60s experiment looked very promising, and some more prototypes should be tried. I do wonder what MSR technology would be like now, forty years on, if development had continued with funding comparable to that spent on solid fuel reactors.

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