GE uranium enrichment plans raise fears: report

Aug 22, 2011
The Exelon Byron Nuclear Generating Stations in Byron, Illinois. US conglomerate General Electric is seeking permission to build a $1 billion plant for uranium enrichment by laser, a process which has raised proliferation fears, The New York Times said.

US conglomerate General Electric is seeking permission to build a $1 billion plant for uranium enrichment by laser, a process which has raised proliferation fears, The New York Times said Sunday.

After testing the enrichment process for two years, GE has asked the US government to approve its plans for a massive facility in North Carolina that could produce reactor fuel by the ton, the report said, citing GE officials.

"We are currently optimizing the design," Christopher Monetta, president of Global Laser Enrichment, a subsidiary operated by GE and Japan's Hitachi, said in an interview with the newspaper.

The US is expected to deliver its decision on whether to issue a commercial license for the complex by next year, the report said.

Uranium enrichment can be used to produce both the fuel for a and the fissile material for an atomic warhead. New technologies are seen as potentially dangerous as they make it easier to build a bomb.

Monetta said the plant could enrich enough uranium each year to fuel up to 60 large -- in theory, enough to power 42 million homes, or a third of all homes in the United States.

Donald Kerr, a former director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory who was recently briefed on GE's advance, said laser enrichment "appears to be close to a real industrial process" and a genuine .

But critics say the technology could be co-opted by rogue states such as Iran or terror groups and used in the covert production of weapons, as it would be more difficult to detect small laser-equipped facilities.

"We're on the verge of a new route to the bomb," Frank von Hippel, a who advised former US president Bill Clinton and now teaches at Princeton University, told the Times.

"We should have learned enough by now to do an assessment before we let this kind of thing out."

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User comments : 19

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Husky
5 / 5 (1) Aug 22, 2011
I understand that its supposed to enrich with much more efficiency than the older processes, but how much cheaper does that put enriched uranium in the market ???
Scottingham
5 / 5 (1) Aug 22, 2011
Of course there's fear, fear shuts down rational thought.

I wonder if this process would work on reprocessing spent fuel as well. >95% of the waste is unenriched Uranium.
holoman
1 / 5 (1) Aug 22, 2011
Not in my back yard !

Luni Toonist at it again.

Nuke industry wants to provide
renewable radioactive nuclei. No safe solution exist.

This is NOT a safe clean process but emits many residual
high energy particles that are released outside the
containment boundary.

:(

fmfbrestel
not rated yet Aug 22, 2011
@holoman link to evidence to back up that rant?

Coal plants emit radioactive waste.
http://www.scient...ar-waste

See? That is how you back up a claim so as to not sound like a raving lunatic.
CaptainSlog
not rated yet Aug 23, 2011
What would our reaction be if Iran were planning to do this?
fmfbrestel
not rated yet Aug 23, 2011
I don't know, what would my reaction be if people stopped asking inane rhetorical questions?
fmfbrestel
5 / 5 (1) Aug 23, 2011
The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission is concerned about the US national security, NOT Iran's national security. They are concerned about letting another genie out of the bottle. The problem is that the genie already exists and trapping genies in bottles is a myth -- they come and go as easily as china can hack GE computers.
rwinners
1 / 5 (1) Aug 23, 2011
The gate is already hanging by one hing.. and that by a few loose screws.
Go GE! Hope it reduces costs by a factor of 10!
holoman
1 / 5 (1) Aug 24, 2011
fmfbrestel,

Coal, Oil, Shale, Isotopes, and Natural Gas aren't a good solutions either.

The energy lobbyist are spending alot of money to keep
these dirty energies on the front burner.

The American people are wise to this and a change in future
energy production for the US is needed.

NO business as usual, the country needs new renewable technology that doesn't pollute, destroy the environment, produce toxic or waste materials.

I know America is up to the challenge we just need BIG energy
to lead or get out of the way.
fmfbrestel
not rated yet Aug 24, 2011
Thats all nice holoman, but how about something to back up your claim that the laser facility loses containment?

new renewable technology that doesn't pollute, destroy the environment, produce toxic or waste materials.

That rules out just about everything. You think they grow solar cells in an organic garden or something?
fmfbrestel
5 / 5 (2) Aug 24, 2011
The energy lobbyist are spending alot of money to keep these dirty energies on the front burner.


They are on the front burner because they are cheap. No one here thinks renewables that are cheaper than coal are a bad idea. No one. They just dont exist. And yes, we are spending money to research them, so dont pretend we can just assign a few research dollars and fix everything, because we already are.

Just because you demand utopia doesnt mean it is feasible.
holoman
1 / 5 (1) Aug 24, 2011
fmfbrestel

new research needs funding and to say new technology is
useless because we have to develop it is counter productive.

silicon valley startups for example start with great amounts of investments.

just because there cheap doesn't make it right.
fmfbrestel
not rated yet Aug 24, 2011
new research needs funding and to say new technology is useless because we have to develop it is counter productive.


not what i said at all, i just said that we are ALREADY financing the research.

And you still have yet to back up your wild claim about this technology (laser enrichment) losing containment of radioactivity. Please do.
holoman
1 / 5 (1) Aug 24, 2011
fmfbrestel

You need to prove that it isn't.
fmfbrestel
not rated yet Aug 25, 2011
Yeah, thats what i though. Nothing but bark. Ridiculous.

You are the one making very specific claims, not me. I am just curious where you got your information. I'll take that final response as an admission that you simply made up the whole thing. What a waste of time.

fmfbrestel
not rated yet Aug 25, 2011
I probably shouldnt have called you a raving lunatic back there, because all I really ever wanted was your source. I didnt think you actually just made that up. But evidently I was right. You are just a raving lunatic that's perfectly fine outright lying to try to make a point. Thats the last time I take one of your posts seriously.
holoman
1 / 5 (1) Aug 25, 2011
fmfbrestel

http://web.mit.ed...arpower/

Alot more information on the web.

It amuses me when people who can't defend their position
intellectually must resort to name calling as their argument.

Have a Nice Day.

Javinator
not rated yet Aug 25, 2011
That link has nothing to do with your original claim that the enrichment process described in this article,
This is NOT a safe clean process but emits many residual
high energy particles that are released outside the
containment boundary.
as you said above.

That is what fmfbrestel is arguing.
fmfbrestel
not rated yet Aug 25, 2011
1 - A link to a 2009 update on a 2003 report on nuclear power with ZERO mention of laser enrichment. - fail

2 - I am not defending ANYTHING, I am just asking for a source for your very specific claim of a containment failure.

3 - If your claim is true, it is important. I have tried to find a source to back it up, but I cant - which is why I asked you for your source.

4 - It amuses me when people intentionally lie on a science message board because they disagree with the topic.