Thank you for the July 10 guest column by Reps. Roland Smith, R-Langley, and Robin Williams, R-Augusta, on plutonium missions for the Savannah River Site. While our attention is focused on such, perhaps a look at the whole job -- a look ahead for SRS over the next decades -- would be beneficial.
We must do the right thing with the thousand tons of plutonium we have made since the 1940s. We have only two choices: We can bury it for the damnation of our progeny over the next 100,000 years; we can fuel a series of India-Pakistan confrontations as plutonium burial sites are raided by an endless series of thugs. Or we can burn (transmute) it now while we have our hands on it; we can convert it into a trillion dollars worth of clean, safe and low-cost energy.
The MOX mission advocated for less than a hundred tons of weapons plutonium is an excellent start but will solve less than 10 percent of the plutonium problem. Over the next fifty years we must aim to reprocess and burn the remaining 900 tons of plutonium now held in irradiated fuel pieces temporarily stored at power reactor sites.
This expansion of the plutonium mission to solve the whole plutonium problem should mean the following for SRS:
Extraction of the hundreds of tons of plutonium from all the spent reactor fuel east of the Mississippi (several thousands of new, permanent and vital SRS jobs),
Expansion of the capacity of the proposed MOX facility by a factor of 10 (hundreds of new jobs),
Construction of new power reactors at SRS to burn the MOX fuel on site and to provide the southeast with safe, clean, low-cost power for the next century (thousands of new SRS jobs).
Let us challenge Rep. Smith and Rep. Williams to build upon their excellent start and to solve the entire plutonium problem.