Plutonium: Problem or Solution?

Did you know that the worlds stockpile of Plutonium stands at around 500 Tonnes? (incidentally the UK owns about 20% of that) Wikipedia Link Here

Theoretically, a technically competent country could build around 250,000 fission nuclear bombs out of that 500 Tonnes. Each bomb would be around 10KT – about the size that destroyed Hiroshima.

Of course, a technically competent country would actually be capable of using the Plutonium for detonators inside much larger fusion weapons (Hydrogen Bombs).

A less technically competent nation would have more difficulties and may only be capable of producing around 100,000 fission nuclear bombs from the 500 Tonnes.

By any reasonable evaluation the bomb potential from 500 Tonnes of Plutonium on a global scale is effectively limitless.

Clearly safe control and disposal of Plutonium (other than by building bombs out of it) would be a good idea.

So how about burying it?

Plutonium has a half life of 24,000 years. So in 24,000 years time todays stockpile of 500 Tonnes would only build a mere 125,000 bombs. Or for a less technically competent nation a mere 50,000.

So burying it is hardly a solution.

There are a number of cunning plans to “poison” the Plutonium to make it extremely difficult to separate. But you can always guarantee that somewhere, somehow, there will another cunning plan which could be used to purify it.

Even if you successfully poison it what do you do with it then?

There is only one way that I know of that can reduce the Plutonium stockpile - short of blowing people up with it.

That is by using it as fuel in an Integral Fast Reactor (IFR). The by-product of using the Plutonium is a huge supply of electricity. So you dispose of the Plutonium and produce a massive benefit to society at the same time.

Another and less productive use of IFR reactors is to poison the Plutonium in a short time scale, but using it for power production would seem a better idea.

An IFR not only solves the Proliferation issue it also solves the issues surrounding air pollution and carbon emissions from burning coal. An IFR in power mode can consume almost all of its fuel and it produces very small amounts of short lived radioactive waste. It is the ultimate win-win solution to an otherwise intractable problem.

IFR technology is by the way, old proven technology, even though the anti-nuclear lobby will try and bluster you otherwise.

The technology dates back at least four decades. The USA had a working IFR in the 1980's. It was cancelled as a political sop to the anti-nuclear movement. The American IFR was a victim of broad brush ignorance. It remains a victim to this day. (Wikipedia - Argonne Reactor Here)

Ironically the project was killed off just two weeks after a test proved the IFR would safely shut itself down after suffering a total loss of cooling and control. That is why it is often referred to as an intrinsically safe design.

Even the UK had a similar (though not quite the same) project based a Dunraey in Scotland in 1970's While the Dunraey reactors had a number of design issues they did show the feasibility of the IFR concept was sound. (Wikipedia Dunraey Reactor Here)

Today Russia operates two commercial IFR's. India is building one and I believe China has just commissioned its first. So this is no pie in the sky unproven dream world technology. (World Nuc. News - Existing & Future IFR's Here)

GE-Hitachi have a design for a 600MW reactor based on the original USA design from the 1980's. It is the current front runner in the UK to deal with the Plutonium issue. It is called the PRISM reactor. 

But there is a problem.

The problem is with people who would rather bury their heads in the sand than seek a solution to the Plutonium stockpile problem.

Feckless politicians are likely to sit on their hands rather than risk the wrath of Green groups. Even though these anti nuclear groups have no solution to the plutonium stockpile themselves.

If you have a magic solution to the Plutonium stockpile other than by using PRISM reactors please tell me – I'd love to know what it is.

But without a magic solution (or PRISM reactors) the Plutonium stockpile is not going anywhere soon. As far as I can see the only way to put the Plutonium Genie back in the bottle is to constructively use it for the benefit of mankind in PRISM reactors.

So what is your solution? What do you do with 500 tonnes of Plutonium?

If you have some magic plan other than PRISM what is it?

Tell me.
(Post posting note! It has been correctly pointed out on twitter that PRISM reactors are not the only constructive nuclear technology that can use the Plutonium. There are other promising avenues of development, such as Molten Salt Reactors and Sub Critical reactors to name just two. I had no intention of dissing these promising avenues of development but at the moment in the UK the front runner (by a long margin) is the PRISM reactor.

Parliament Votes to Abolish Wind Farm Subsidies

A Ten Minute Rule bill introduced by MP Nigel Adams to abolish subsidies to on-shore wind farms was passed by a small majority today in the UK Parliament. This means that the bill will go forward to a second reading on the 6th March. ( See This Link )

The turn out for this vote was small with 67 supporting it and 65 opposing.

Where were the other 480 or so MPs? 

Your guess is as good as mine. 

But due to the nature of the bill I expect most of them decided that cowardice was the better part of valor.

While it would be very good news if this bill made it into law, at this stage this Ten Minute Rule bill is non binding. Ten Minute Rule bills are usually used to test the political water.

From the lack of the attendance at this debate, it appears the political water surrounding unpopular wind turbine subsidies is very, very cold.  

Hopefully though, the wind turbine Carpet Baggers will get the message Loud and Clear.

It is going to be abolition of subsidies first. 

Then we start talking about compensation for those so badly affected by these useless follies.

Je Suis Charlie (With Caveats)

It has become the norm to express disgust at the mass murder at the Charlie Hebdo office and the Parisian Jewish supermarket by declaring yourself "Je Suis Charlie".

So, Dear Reader I am also "Je Suis Charlie".


I don't agree with causing offence for no reason.

Some of the satire from Charlie Hebdo was cogent and had a moot political point. It would also be true to say a great deal of the offensive cartoonery (and not just that mocking Islam) has been devoid of any meaningful social comment.

Charlie Hebdo was not just a vehicle for political commentary. It was also a vehicle used to express contempt and derision of unfashionable groups within French society. Groups which did not fit into the pompous left wing elitist monoculture that epitomises papers like Charlie Hebdo.

So Charlie Hebdo caused offence. No doubt I may well have been one of the offended.

But as Stephen Fry once said regarding being offended:-

So Fucking What?

So Fucking What if I (or anyone else) found Charlie Hebdo offensive?

So Fucking What if the staff of Charlie Hebdo were a bunch of metropolitan elitist tossers?

People could (as was their want) ignore the scurrilous publication. Or alternatively, they could rage against it within the precepts of the law. Maybe they could cause Charlie Hebdo some offence in return.

But what is most certainly a deranged and preposterously out of proportion response is to pick up a machine gun and butcher everyone. Including the maintenance man and two policemen. Or murder people simply because they used a shop that caused "offence". An offence caused by its religious allegiance.

Of course this was not really the action of the terminally offended.

It was the action of socially alienated losers. A bunch of losers that in a different context would have been just as happy to follow the mindless brutal dictates of (say) Nazi Germany or (say) the Kymer Rouge.

Charlie Hebdo cartoons may have offended the self declared executioners. But the food store had caused no offence to anyone. Except to the Nazi-esque bigots who performed these crimes. Clearly they were offended by its "Jewishness".

How pathetic is that?

Massacring people gave these misfits a sense of power in their pointless wretched lives.

A sense of power no doubt also experienced by concentration guards as they shovelled the Xyclon B crystals into the fake shower blocks at Auchwitz. Or members of the Ku Klux Klan as they lyched some hapless negro in the 1920's.

Just as with Nazi Germany or the Southern States of America in the 1920's the murderous losers have a support base.

Tonight in Muslim countries and communities across the world there will be some people celebrating the slaughter at Charlie Hebdo and the Jewish supermarket.

But it would be a foolish and wholly inaccurate knee jerk reaction to tar most Muslims with the same brush as the Paris losers.

Remember the boots on the ground fighting ISIS in Syria and Northern Iraq are Kurdish boots and mostly, Kurdish boots are Sunni Muslim boots. Meanwhile Kurdistan offers a safe haven for persecuted Yahsidis and Christians.

Young Kurdish men and young Kurdish women are driving back the ISIS barbarians both militarily and morally. In doing so they are suffering heavy losses.

It would be a crying shame if these brave souls were to be unjustly labelled as fellow travelers of the Paris nutters.

It is a big mistake to label all Muslims as barbarians.

Undoubtedly some are.

But most are not.

Navitus Bay - Deadline 5 looms

If you are an interested party in the Navitus Bay Wind Park Planning Examination - take note.

Right on the last examination deadline (11th Dec - Deadline 4)  Navitus Bay Development Ltd dumped over 30 new documents on the Examining Authority for inspection. Included within the this pile is one which purportedly even replaces their original Appendix 43 for their now infamous and laughably named "Mitigation Option".

The next deadline to which comments on these new documents must be made is January 7th.

So if you want to make comments on any of these documents - time is tight. You only have a few days left.

They are available on the Examining Authorities site Here