Letter: Technical apathy stalling nuclear progress

February 6, 2014 

I've followed Herald news articles on the Tri-Cities seeking opportunities to develop small nuclear power reactors and see that TRIDEC has developed a fascination.

I've repeatedly seen politics and influence trump science, so I am rather used to that. What has newly dawned on me is the apathy or cowardice of the scientific community members here to criticize political choices or put forward innovative suggestions

In the case of moving away from being garbage men toward leading edge science and development, I would love to see scientists bring up the possibility of getting away from the uranium-fueled reactor that was originally chosen because it also could make weapons-grade plutonium to fight the Cold War.

Perhaps it is time to revisit the thorium cycle, abandoned 50 years ago, which offers multiple technological approaches and a thousand years of easily available fuel. Work on creating startup fuel for thorium reactors would be a possible use for the sadly overgrown Fast Flux Test Facility, once the crown jewel of U.S. breeder reactor research facilities.

So, where are you, my silent technical friends?

Are you afraid of losing your jobs, or are you so apathetic about politics as usual that you no longer care?

JOHN F. WILLIFORD, Richland

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