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September 21, 2007

What to do About Nuclear Proliferation?

Or, more importantly, what to do about the stocks of plutonium that we have?

The amount of plutonium stored at Sellafield has nearly doubled in the last decade to 103 tonnes. A quarter has been separated for foreign countries and companies. Prof Boulton said: "Just over 6kg of plutonium was used in the bomb which devastated Nagasaki, and the UK has many thousands of times that amount. We must ensure this very dangerous material does not fall into the wrong hands."

The society does not raise specific concerns about the security or safety regime at the Sellafield store. But it says the consequences of a security breach or accidental dispersal of the material are so severe that changes must be made.

It says the best option is to convert the plutonium into mixed oxide (MOX) fuel pellets. "If the government builds a new generation of nuclear power stations, the entire stockpile could be burnt as MOX fuel in these new reactors," the report says.

Yup, we should build new nuclear plants so as to reduce the risks from nuclear materials.

September 21, 2007 in Nuclear | Permalink


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I'll buy that but we have to acknowledge that the security risks of guarding new nuclear power stations could turn out to be more challenging than guarding a stockpile of plutonium held in one location.

Posted by: Bob B | Sep 21, 2007 11:04:19 AM

Clearly the author knows smeg all about nuclear physics. The plutonium in Sellafield is useless as fuel for nuclear weapons. Any bomb will just fizzle.

Tim adds: If you want to say that about the Royal Society, you go right ahead. I'll stay out of it though, OK?

Posted by: Josh | Sep 21, 2007 11:25:04 AM

"Tim adds: If you want to say that about the Royal Society, you go right ahead. I'll stay out of it though, OK?"

That's a little trite coming from you, isn't it Tim?

After all you don't have a great deal of time for the RS's approach to AAGW...

Tim adds: My arguments about AAGW are to do with responses to it, not its existence. Economics and politics that is, not an area where the RS can claim expertise.

But the allegation here is that the RS doesn't know which isotope of plutonium is in store: a mistake I really don't expect them to make. The one we make bombs from or the one we make batteries from?

Posted by: Cleanthes | Sep 21, 2007 2:04:52 PM