Originally created 07/14/97

Missions for SRS

Too many Americans take for granted all of the good news that continues to evolve due to the end of the Cold War.

An example for all to see is the old Soviet nuclear stock pile continuing to be slowly destroyed or disarmed. Several U.S. nuclear power plants are even using fuel derived from U.S. and Russian bomb-grade uranium to produce electricity. Who would have thought, just five years ago, that would ever occur?

President Clinton wants to build on this success by moving ahead with a two-track plan for converting surplus plutonium into reactor fuel and storing the rest in glass logs for underground burial. As many in our two-state area know, the Savannah River Site is the top contender to carry out both of these missions.

Noel E. Hertel, associate professor of nuclear engineering and health physics at Georgia Tech, notes that the Russians are more likely to begin disposing of their weapons plutonium through the use of MOX fuel, a process of mixing plutonium with uranium fuel for use in commercial reactors, if the U.S. does the same.

"Therefore," this expert concludes, "it would be wise for Congress to make funds available to the Department of Energy so that construction can begin on a facility in this country to fabricate MOX fuel from surplus U.S. weapons plutonium." SRS, of course, is the logical place!

Hertel also points out that, since the Russians are so financially strapped, some of our foreign aid ought to be redirected to help build a similar MOX-fabrication facility to dispose of their own weapons plutonium. With so much of our Russian aid money having been wasted, this would be a refreshing case of money well spent.

It would serve U.S. national security interests, as well as the cause of world peace.


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