September 4, 2008 The Pump Handle 1Comment

by revere, cross-posted at Effect Measure

McCain wants to go full speed ahead for nuclear power (that’s a maverick’s way of dealing with climate change?) and Obama seems to feel friendly to it, too, as long as the waste disposal issue can be solved, satisfactorily (which it doesn’t seem it can be, but that’s another story). Everyone agrees that nuclear power has to be managed safely if we are going to rely on it to any extent and we are always given assurances that this is not only possible but what happens as a matter of course, no exceptions. To make sure, government plans are reviewed by independent experts. Too bad we can’t see the plans and the government doesn’t listen to the experts:

US regulators have ignored expert safety advice in an attempt to cut corners and fast track the completion of a $4 billion nuclear fuel facility currently under construction near Aiken, South Carolina.The accusation is reported in the September issue of The Chemical Engineer magazine, published by the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE).
Nuclear disarmament treaties have resulted in a large surplus of weapons-grade plutonium. The US government has initiated moves to build and operate a mixed oxide fuel fabrication facility (MOFFF) that will convert recovered plutonium into fuel rods for use in civil nuclear power generation. However, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has ‘hushed up’ a highly critical assessment of the plant’s engineering by its top independent reviewer according to Adam Duckett, a senior reporter on The Chemical Engineer.

The claims are made by Dan Tedder, Emeritus Professor of Chemical Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology. Tedder, who was hired by the NRC as an independent technical reviewer in April 2007, told The Chemical Engineer that basic chemical process design information was incomplete and presented serious safety implications. (Science Daily)


Tedder alleges the documentation paperwork is scant and uninformative and not consistent with what is generally considered good engineering practice. The NRC denies this. So who’s right? Sorry. The NRC won’t let anyone see the plans. “National security and proprietary business information,” of course.

Tempest in a teapot? Well, it’s a nuclear teapot and I’m not exactly up for a nuclear tempest to go with it. There’s also the issue of diversion of high level nuclear material for purposes of mayhem, but the Bush administration, which is obsessively interested in bottles of shampoo over 3 oz. on commercial airplanes seems to be OK with this.

Security aside, I guess we don’t need to worry, though. They have an independent scientist making sure everything is OK. Oh, wait . . .

One thought on “What the hell. It’s only a nuclear facility.

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