If the sequestration can’t kill this one …
One of the better progressive periodicals out there is TruthOut.org. In yesterdays edition they called out the catastrophically failed in the nuclear fuel plant in South Carolina. This plant was supposed to blend plutonium recovered from weapons into a special high grade fuel (Mixed Oxide or MOX for short) which would save hundreds of millions in reactor fuel cost, by recycling this cold war surplus.
Well a predictable thing happened on the way to this nuclear technological silver bullet. It got delay (original opening date 2007, current estimate 2019) and it ran over budget (from $1B to at least $7,8B).
But then some other things came up. No reactor in the country converted to MOX fuel to use the product of this incomplete facility. The cost of fresh uranium fuel fell thru the floor as reactors closed and orders for new plants dried up worldwide. And then as this TruthOut article reveals, if the MOX fuel is created and not used, it presents a significant proliferation risk (proliferation risk reduction was a major original sell point). Then it turned out that the French lied (or extrapolated incorrectly?) about their capacity to craft fuel from military grade (super rich) plutonium and it is unclear if the technology can ever be deployed. The report concludes with the pessimistic:
The Government Accountability Office says DOE has disclosed its intention to sell MOX fuel at 15 to 25 percent less than the cost of conventional fuel, but still has no takers. And if it did sell the fuel, the Congressional Research Service said that the government would likely see a return of just $1.1 billion to $2 billion on its investment of more than $20 billion.
Another brilliant nuclear investment. At this point sequestration has not blocked this pointless project. What is the next big nuclear promise destined to disappoint. Shall we do Thorium reactors next? What about small modular ones?