The following is a letter I wrote to the NRC back in June. I have not received an answer to my letter.
3 June 2013
Brigham City, Utah 84302
Allison M. Macfarlane, Chairman
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Mail Stop O-16G4
Washington, DC 20555-0001
Dear Chairman Macfarlane,
In 2009, I first learned about molten salt nuclear reactors from an article in Wired magazine (http://www.wired.com/magazine/2009/12/ff_new_nukes/). Over the last few years, I have become interested in the demonstrated promise of molten salt reactors. Even though I have a background in engineering, I did not know about fluid-fueled reactors. Since then I have done significant study about this type of reactor and its benefits.
As I have told friends and colleagues about the advantages of this reactor, they would always ask me, “Why don’t we have this type of reactor now?” Or in other words, if molten salt reactors are so great, how come there aren’t any? That is very good question. And I have answered a number of different ways, none of which were very satisfactory to my friends or to me.
Glen Seaborg, who was chairman of the United States Atomic Energy Commission from 1961 to 1971, declared that his graduate student, John Gofman had made “a fifty-quadrillion dollar discovery” when Gofman figured out that thorium would turn into uranium-233 and fission, and also had certain other properties. The Oak Ridge National Laboratories later constructed and ran a fluid-fueled, thorium reactor from 1965 to 1969. That was the last time someone tried to tap into this “fifty-quadrillion dollar discovery”.
Additionally, the NRC is legally charged with:
1. Increasing the productivity of the national economy
2. Strengthening its position in regard to international trade
3. Making the Nation self-sufficient in energy
4. Improving the general welfare
5. Increasing the standard of living
6. Strengthening free competition in private enterprise
7. Restoring, protecting, and advancing environmental quality
It seems to me like all of these mandates could be accomplished with molten salt thorium reactors. Why hasn’t the NRC complied with these Congressional mandates? Perhaps the NRC could help me give a better answer to my friends and colleagues when they ask why we don’t have molten salt thorium reactors today?