Nuclear Pollution

Alan Wagener

Proposing to expand production and use of nuclear materials!

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced its intent to prepare a programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS) for accomplishing expanded civilian nuclear energy research and development and isotope production missions in the United States, including the role of the Fast Flux Test Facility (more here).

Fortunately, they don't always get what they want...


WASHINGTON, DC, November 30, 2000 (ENS) - The Department of Energy (DOE) has decided against restarting the Fast Flux Test Facility (FFTF) at the Hanford Site, near Richland, Washington. "Commitments from the private and public sectors were not sufficient to justify restarting FFTF or building new facilities at this time," the agency said in its Final Nuclear Infrastructure Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (NI-PEIS), which will be formally issued to the public in mid-December. The NI-PEIS was developed to help the department prepare for future missions, including nuclear technology research and development, medical isotope production, and production of Pu-238 to support future U.S. space exploration.

Activists said the DOE's decision marks the end of the U.S. commitment to nuclear "breeder" reactors capable of producing more plutonium than they consume. The Nuclear Control Institute (NCI) hailed DOE's decision. For almost a decade, NCI has urged DOE to decommission the FFTF on nonproliferation, economic and environmental grounds - most recently in DOE's formal restart review process. "Termination of FFTF is a victory for nuclear non-proliferation and should serve as a signal to the few remaining countries still pursuing breeder reactors that their programs are expensive dead ends," said Tom Clements, executive director of NCI. "This decision is a boost to nonproliferation efforts that have extended over decades to halt the pursuit of a nuclear fuel cycle based on weapons usable plutonium." FFTF was being considered by DOE for production of isotopes for medical and industrial purposes, but neither public nor private interest in such production materialized. "The department remains committed to its core nuclear science and technology role," said DOE Secretary Bill Richardson. "Using our current facilities, we expect to meet the nation's foreseeable needs for years to come."

- From AmeriScan: November 30, 2000

Want to know more about this issue?

Here's what researchers are finding out about the present health effects of past violations:

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