TVA Sees Fuel in Old Warheads

The U.S. Department of Energy proposes to use surplus material from nuclear warheads to help power Tennessee Valley Authority nuclear power plants.

TVA-LogoWhen it comes to nuclear power, there is no such thing as an easy answer.

The latest example of this is the proposal by the U.S. Department of Energy to use surplus material from nuclear warheads to help power Tennessee Valley Authority nuclear power plants.

For DOE, it represents a chance to get rid of weapons that the government no longer wants, as the nation’s nuclear arsenal undergoes modernization and reduction.

That reduction is an admirable goal. But in suggesting that the weapons-grade plutonium be reprocessed for power plants, the federal government may only be shifting the environmental and security threats from one place to another.

Here’s what DOE proposes: It wants to convert 13 metric tons of plutonium produced in making nuclear warheads into a mixed-oxide fuel, or MOX, at a fuel-fabrication plant under construction at the federal Savannah River, S.C., nuclear complex. This would begin after the plant is finished in 2016.

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Source: The Tennessean
Photo: Tennessee Valley Authority