George Stanford, Ph.D., is a nuclear reactor physicist, part of the team that developed the Integral Fast Reactor. He is now retired from Argonne National Laboratory after a career of experimental work pertaining to power-reactor safety. He is the co-author of Nuclear Shadowboxing: Contemporary Threats from Cold War Weaponry.

by George Stanford

There are good reasons to forge ahead with IFRs.  Here are some:

1.  Eighty years of waste from 1000 (1-GWe) reactors would leave enough used fuel for 10 or 20 Yucca Mountains.

2. The environmental effects of accelerated uranium mining will impinge increasingly on the public's consciousness.  Resistance to uranium mining is already growing.

3.  The accumulating plutonium inventory will, rightly or wrongly, be seen as an ever-increasing proliferation risk,

4.  The multiplying need for uranium enrichment means the spread of centrifuge technology and loss of international control of that technology, with serious proliferation implications.

5.  Since China, India, Russia, et al. are forging ahead with their fast-reactor programs, technological leadership will continue to move in that direction.

6.  The concomitant spread of fuel-processing technology will mean loss of international control of that technology, with further serious proliferation implications.

7.  No nation can make nuclear weapons without either enrichment or reprocessing facilities, regardless of how many reactors it has.  The loss of U.S. technological leadership will mean the loss of ability to bring order to the global development and deployment of nuclear technology, with the consequent uninhibited spread of proliferation potential.

8.  The institutional knowledge of the U.S.-developed IFR technology is rapidly dying off, accelerating the North American descent to second-class technological status.

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