Small thorium reactors / small modular reactors & terrorism - thorium-based atomic power & bombs

Veröffentlicht am 17.11.2023 in der Kategorie Atomkraft von Axel Mayer

Small thorium reactors, Mini nuclear power stations & terrorism - thorium-based atomic power

Recent discussions about thorium reactors (terrorism / danger - thorium-based nuclear power)

Small thorium reactors / small modular reactors / cheap energy?

Mini nuclear power stations: Expensive, dangerous mini-nuclear power plants & thorium reactors? Bankruptcies, bad luck & mishaps

Many media outlets have been and are reporting euphorically about the future “small, cost-effective, green” mini-nuclear power plants. Industry-led citizens' initiatives and nuclear lobbyists uncritically promote the “reactors of the future”.
The environmental movement has long been warning about the dangers (proliferation!) and costs of these new reactors and it is currently clear in the USA that the expensive mini-nuclear power plants have no chance on a functioning market. In contrast to nuclear power, electricity from wind and sun is unrivaledly cheap and less risky.
For cost reasons, the project for new, small mini-reactors in the USA, subsidized with $4,000 million, crashed in 2023.

The first nuclear power plant with small modular reactors was to be built in Idaho. Now the project has been canceled

Even with a modest inflation rate of 2 percent by 2030, nuclear power would not be 8.9 ct/kWh (89 USD/MWh), but rather 10.2 ct/kWh (102 USD/MWh).

Electricity from the new Al Shuaiba solar power plant costs approx. 1.04 cents/kWh. That's a tenth of the cost of electricity from the dangerous, expensive new mini-nuclear power plants, and electricity from wind and solar is getting cheaper and cheaper. That's why these environmentally friendly energies have been and are being fought for so long by atomic-fossil cliques with fake news and bureaucracy. It is inexplicable why economically liberal parties and the media are fighting so intensively for highly subsidized nuclear power, which cannot be implemented on functioning markets.

Added to this are the enormous risks of new nuclear power plants. The export and global construction of small reactors would lead to more and more countries, dictatorships and autocrats coming into possession of nuclear weapons and would be a global suicide program. Radical market greed ignores such arguments.

The update of the previous reactor concepts is also a fiasco. The expensive permanent construction site, the new British Hinkley Point nuclear power plant, will receive a feed-in tariff of 11 cents kWh and an additional guaranteed inflation compensation. This amounts to a remuneration of around 22 cents kWh in the last funding year. The nuclear industry will win itself to death at Hinkley Point.
While at the beginning of the anti-nuclear movement “only” the arguments of environmental and human protection were on the side of the critics, now the economy is also on the side.

Why should we rely on dangerous, expensive, high-risk technologies like mini-nuclear power plants and the thorium reactor when we have cost-effective, environmentally friendly alternatives?

Due to the nuclear incidents of Chernobyl and Fukushima, the nuclear lobby seemed to be hidden and absent. Meanwhile, they are telling old lies again, but presented in a very positive light.

Nuclear power companies
plan to build small „environmentally friendly and green” thorium reactors distributed among the whole world. The research is also financed by EU-money.
The old pressurised water reactors and boiling water reactors should be replaced by many small thorium reactors. You call them also liquid fluoride thorium reactors.

But these companies don´t consider that only one of these mini-reactors emit a amount of radioactivity that is as high as the one of many Hiroshima bombs. An accident or a terroristic attack on one of these mini-reactors could destroy a whole city. Many of these small reactors are, inevitably, insecure targets. If there stood some of these reactors in countries like Syria or Iraq, terroristic organisations like the “IS (or ISIS)” could gain in power by building so-called “dirty bombs”.

The idea of distributing thorium reactors among the whole world is a nuclear nightmare and can be described as a global suicide programm. It´s another example of the destructive era of the “Anthropocene”.

There are many possible ways of nuclear terrorism.
In this case, there are three possible scenarios

Thorium, protactinium and the building of nuclear bombs

The journal “Nature” describes in his article “Thorium fuel has risks” a big thorium problem very precisely:

Thus, only 1.6 tonnes of thorium metal would be required to produce the 8kg of
233U required for a weapon. This amount of 233U could feasibly be obtained by this process in
less than a year. The separation of protactinium from thorium is not new. We highlight two well-
known chemical processes — acid-media techniques and liquid bismuth reductive extraction
— that are causes for concern, although there may be others. Both methods use standard nuclear-lab equipment
and hot cells — containment chambers in which highly radioactive materials can be manipulated safely. Such apparatus is not necessarily subject to IAEA safeguards. […]

We have three main concerns:
*First, nuclear-energy technologies that involve irradiation of thorium fuels for short periods could be used covertly to accumulate quantities of 233U by parallel or batch means, perhaps without raising IAEA proliferation flags.
*Second, the infrastructure required to undertake the chemical partitioning of protactinium could be acquired and established surreptitiously in a small laboratory.
*Third, state proliferators could seek to use thorium to acquire 233U for weapons production.

These three points should be included in debates on the proliferation attributes of thorium.

Thorium bomb?
During the Second World War, when nuclear bombs hit the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki,
some people also planned to build thorium bombs:
Historian and Oppenheimer-biographer Martin Sherwin is convinced that if they had built thorium bombs, these bombs would have been kindled too.
If they had a thorium bomb, there would have been dropped altogether three bombs during the Second World War, says historian Peter Kutznick from the American University Washington.

The exploitation of thorium
and the nuclear regeneration are harmful to the environment, make ill and at worst, they can be lethal. Even if the reactors work normally, they emit carcinogenic radioactivity. Thus, many people are exposed to radiation. Although, thorium reactors emit, on the one hand, less radioactivity than a boiling water reactor and for a shorter period, the radiation is, on the other hand, more intense.

To conclude, why should we support a dangerous and expensive technology, if we have cheaper, environmentally (more) friendly solutions?

The global public relations-campaign
for small nuclear power plants and thorium reactors is very active.
Greenwash and hidden PR, so-called “no-badge”- activities are standards of PR-campaigns. The extremely partial and one-sided articles of Wikipedia about small nuclear power plants and thorium reactors in many different languages are typical examples of the strategy of advertising agencys. Their functioning includes typically manipulated letter-to-the-editor-campaigns, one-sided opinion polls, spy on and slanden of reviewers, jubilation online-reports, articles in blogs and increasingly the use of “social bots”, opinion robots. Also industrial directed faked citizen`s action groups take part of the manipulation business of these groups, environmental destroyers and the nuclear lobby. The biggest advertising agency in the world “Burson-Marsteller” which played down over many years the dangers of smoking and denied the global climate change, advertised until autumn 2016 the “eco-friendly” nulclear power.
In this case, the environmental and anti-nuclear movements often work careless and barely oppose something.
If you enter the key-word “thorium reactor” in a search engine, you can see, who, unfortunately, has the power in the world wide web.

Nuclear Pride Coalition and the thorium reactor: The perfect new propaganda strategy for nuclear energy

A few years after the devastating nuclear accidents of Fukushima and Tschernobyl, the international nuclear lobby decided to shun the limelight for a little while. But it doesn’t seem like they have given up yet. A massive global PR-campaign is currently run to promote the extension of the period of risk for old nuclear power plants while also promoting the new erection of NPPs. Lately propaganda techniques have been optimized and the corporate groups don’t even appear in the promotional film “Thorium- Risk free nuclear energy?”. Additionally several PR-agencies are founding fake citizen initiatives while right-wing and neoliberal networks help with promotion. . The Nuclear Pride Coalition is nothing more but a clever disguise for lobbyists that happily play the part of the environmentalists. In the past, comparable PR-campaigns have often been supported by trolls, hired to anonymously write hundreds of "letters to the editor" and to litter online forums with promotional messages. Even the manipulation of Wikipedia articles is part of the PR-agencies everyday business.

Axel Mayer, Mitwelt Foundation Upper Rhine
The author has been involved in environmental and nature conservation and regional planning on the Upper Rhine for 50 years. He was BUND managing director in Freiburg for 30 years.

Small thorium reactors, Mini nuclear power stations & terrorism - thorium-based atomic power