The core of US research
16 December 2005
A second INL test reactor with capabilities that complement the ATR's - and a greater capability to simulate fast reactor operations - is "a wish-list item" for the future.Marshall predicted that it would be "at least a decade" before formal proposals are prepared and designs are begun.
Hmmm -- curious to see if that wonderful future test reactor, with capability to simulate fast reactor operations, will come out looking and performing anything like the FFTF.....
In the mean time, the US Gen.IV fast reactor effort is renting space in France's Phénix fast reactor....
From: Marc Garland [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Saturday April 30, 2005 9:21 PM
To: ANS Member Exchange
Subject: [MbrExchange] Core drilling starts at FFTF
This is the death blow for FFTF.
Core drilling starts at FFTF
This story was published Saturday, April 30th, 2005
By Annette Cary, Herald staff writer
Workers began Friday to drill the core of Hanford's Fast Flux Test Facility, dropping metal shavings into the heart of the reactor.
"We lost a real good friend," said Benton County Commissioner Claude Oliver, who has led the campaign in recent years to restart the reactor.
There is no hope left that the reactor can be restarted, he and other supporters said.
As work has proceeded since April 2003 to drain liquid sodium from the reactor, a restart would have been progressively more difficult and expensive. But supporters continued to fight to save the reactor in hopes it could be used for a new mission, such as isotopes for new medical treatments.
The work Friday was the death blow for the research reactor, they conceded.
Workers for Department of Energy contractor Fluor Hanford plan to insert a drill through the inner vessel of the reactor to gain access to the outer reactor vessel that contains liquid sodium.
Then a tube can be inserted to drain the last of the sodium from the reactor.
On Friday, workers began reaming weld material that had hardened over part of the top of an opening where they plan to insert the drill, according to a statement from Fluor Hanford.
That caused metal filings to drop into the reactor vessel, Oliver said.
"The reaming actually destroys it," he said, comparing it to putting metal shavings into a car engine.
Work will continue Monday to drill into the reactor core.
"This is a real, real, real, travesty for this nation," Oliver said.
The 400-megawatt, sodium-cooled reactor was DOE's newest reactor.
From 1982 to 1992 it was used for national and international research, including testing advanced nuclear fuels and nuclear power plant operating procedures. It also produced a large number of isotopes for medical and industrial users.
But 12 years ago DOE ordered the reactor shut down for lack of an economically viable use.
Since then, DOE has considered missions for the plant including making tritium for nuclear weapons, making radioactive isotopes for power during deep outer space exploration and making medical isotopes.
Most recently supporters hoped that a resurgence of interest in nuclear energy might save the reactor and allow it to once again be used for nuclear testing.
However, much of the popular support through the years for saving the reactor came from people who were hoping that it could make radioactive isotopes to deliver radiation to cancer patients in new ways.
Some radiologists researching cancer treatments said they were unable to get promising types of isotopes in large enough quantities for their projects.
But both Republican and Democratic administrations concluded that the nation had no use for the reactor that made economic sense.
An environmental study was done, allowing the reactor to be permanently shut down, but not torn down. Another environmental study is in progress that is expected to result in that decision.
Although Oliver has given up hope of a restart, he's still interested in pursuing court action accusing DOE of starting to destroy the reactor before the final environmental study is completed.
DOE has maintained that it has authority to drain the sodium as part of the permanent shutdown of the reactor, which a federal court has ruled may proceed.