Tritium on Ice: The Dangerous New Alliance of Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Power

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MIT Press, Sep 17, 2004 - Political Science - 244 pages
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In December 1998, Energy Secretary Bill Richardson announced that the U.S. planned to begin producing tritium for its nuclear weapons in commercial nuclear power plants. This decision overturned a fifty-year policy of keeping civilian and military nuclear production processes separate. Tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen, is needed to turn A-bombs into H-bombs, and the commercial nuclear power plants that are to be modified to produce tritium are called ice condensers. This book provides an insider's perspective on how Richardson's decision came about, and why it is dangerous. Kenneth Bergeron shows that the new policy is unwise not only because it undermines the U.S. commitment to curb nuclear weapons proliferation but also because it will exacerbate serious safety problems at these commercial power facilities, which are operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority and are among the most marginal in the United States. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission's review of the TVA's request to modify its plants for the new nuclear weapons mission should attract significant attention and opposition.

Tritium on Ice is part expose, part history, part science for the lay reader, and part political science. Bergeron's discussion of how the issues of nuclear weapons proliferation and nuclear reactor safety have become intertwined illuminates larger issues about how the federal government does or does not manage technology in the interests of its citizens and calls into question the integrity of government-funded safety assessments in a deregulated economy.


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Have not read this book yet but wondering this: If Brookhaven National Laboratory was visiting and sending specifications for components applicable to linear accelerators in the middle and late 1980's to a company in Gelnhausen (NTG Neue Technology) or hand delivering these to the home of Rudolf Ortmayer via instructions of a business partner in the U.S. representing NTG and Interatom at Brookhaven National Laboratory, is this a problem? The German Government, here in NYC told me that NTG provided false documents to Brookhaven about their components and that these components were for German laboratories. The person that was sending the literature and selling the components was Ortmayer and his associate and these people were prosecuted in Germany for proliferation and illegal sales of technology to countries in Conflict, including Pakistan. Ortmayer was also working with the Embassy in Paris (Pakistan) for a buyer who gave him a wish list according to German publications and authors and investigators. Not sure where the business deals here were leading -- transferring German Technology to U.S. Or transferring specifications and other information from DOE to countries like Pakistan and South Africa or perhaps, making a bundle of money on both ends? Never hear anything about the visit of Peter Finke to NASA Lewis or dozens of other activities of this group of people. My own impression as a regular non-scientist is that perhaps Kahn was interested in pursuing accelerator technology to provide a new source of trititum for PINSTECH -- or maybe this is just a stupid idea. 


A Covenant Breached
Wars Child The Birth and Nurture of Civilian Nuclear Energy
Nuclear Reactor Safety Confidence versus Vigilance
Nuclear Nonproliferation The Devil Is in the Details
Tritium the Lifeblood of the Nuclear Arsenal
Tennessee Waltz
Whats the Rush?
Appendix A Analysis of Public Comments on the DOEs Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement on Tritium Supply and Recycling
Appendix B Interagency Review of the Nonproliferation Implications of Alternative Tritium Production Technologies under Consideration by the De...
Appendix C Critique of Interagency Review
Appendix D Glossary
Notes on Epigraphs

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Page 1 - We of this nation, desirous of helping to bring peace to the world and realizing the heavy obligations upon us arising from our possession of the means of producing the bomb and from the fact that it is part of our armament, are prepared to make our full contribution toward effective control of atomic energy. When an adequate system for control of atomic energy, including...

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