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Suggested Citation:"FRONT MATTER." National Academy of Sciences. 1995. Management and Disposition of Excess Weapons Plutonium: Reactor-Related Options. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4754.
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Management and Disposition of Excess Weapons Plutonium

Reactor-Related Options

Panel on Reactor-Related Options for the Disposition of Excess Weapons Plutonium

Committee on International Security and Arms Control

National Academy of Sciences

NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS
Washington, D.C.
1995

Suggested Citation:"FRONT MATTER." National Academy of Sciences. 1995. Management and Disposition of Excess Weapons Plutonium: Reactor-Related Options. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4754.
×

NOTICE: This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to procedures approved by the President of the National Academy of Sciences.

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences.

The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievement of engineers. Dr. Harold Liebowitz is president of the National Academy of Engineering.

The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth I. Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine.

The Committee on International Security and Arms Control is a standing committee of the National Academy of Sciences. Its membership includes members of all three bodies.

The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. Harold Liebowitz are chairman and vice-chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council.

This project was made possible with funding support from the Department of Energy, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and National Research Council funds. The MacArthur Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York provide core support for the work of the Committee on International Security and Arms Control, including projects such as this.

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 95-78572

International Standard Book Number 0-309-05145-2

Copies of this report and its companion, Management and Disposition of Excess Weapons Plutonium, are available for sale from the
National Academy Press,
2101 Constitution Avenue N.W., Box 285, Washington, DC 20055. 800-624-6242 or 202-334-3313 (in the Washington Metropolitan Area).

The Executive Summary of Management and Disposition of Excess Weapons Plutonium is available in limited quantities from the Committee on International Security and Arms Control, 2101 Constitution Avenue N.W., Washington, DC 20418.

Copyright © 1995 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.

Printed in the United States of America

Suggested Citation:"FRONT MATTER." National Academy of Sciences. 1995. Management and Disposition of Excess Weapons Plutonium: Reactor-Related Options. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4754.
×

PANEL ON REACTOR-RELATED OPTIONS FOR THE DISPOSITION OF EXCESS WEAPONS PLUTONIUM

JOHN P. HOLDREN (Chair), Class of 1935 Professor of Energy,

University of California-Berkeley

JOHN F. AHEARNE, Executive Director,

Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society

ROBERT J. BUDNITZ, President,

Future Resources Associates

RICHARD L. GARWIN, IBM Fellow Emeritus,

Thomas J. Watson Research Center, IBM Corporation

MICHAEL M. MAY, Director Emeritus,

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

THOMAS H. PIGFORD, Professor of Nuclear Engineering,

University of California-Berkeley

JOHN J. TAYLOR, Vice President,

Nuclear Power Division, Electric Power Research Institute

Staff

MATTHEW BUNN, Plutonium Study Director

LOIS E. PETERSON, Research Associate

LA'FAYE LEWIS-OLIVER, Administrative Assistant

MONICA OLIVA, Research Assistant

Suggested Citation:"FRONT MATTER." National Academy of Sciences. 1995. Management and Disposition of Excess Weapons Plutonium: Reactor-Related Options. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4754.
×

COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL SECURITY AND ARMS CONTROL

JOHN P. HOLDREN (Chair), Class of 1935 Professor of Energy,

University of California-Berkeley

WOLFGANG K.H. PANOFSKY (Plutonium Study Chair), Professor and Director Emeritus,

Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, Stanford University

JOHN D. BALDESCHWIELER,

Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, California Institute of Technology

WILLIAM F. BURNS, Major General (retired),

U.S. Army

GEORGE LEE BUTLER, Vice President,

Peter Kiewit Sons, Inc.

PAUL M. DOTY,

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; and

Director Emeritus,

Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University

STEVE FETTER,

School of Public Affairs, University of Maryland

ALEXANDER H. FLAX, President Emeritus,

Institute for Defense Analyses

RICHARD L. GARWIN, IBM Fellow Emeritus,

Thomas J. Watson Research Center, IBM Corporation

ROSE GOTTEMOELLER, Deputy Director,

International Institute for Strategic Studies

SPURGEON M. KEENY, JR., President,

Arms Control Association

JOSHUA LEDERBERG, University Professor,

The Rockefeller University

MICHAEL M. MAY, Director Emeritus,

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

MATTHEW MESELSON,

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Harvard University

C. KUMAR N. PATEL, Vice Chancellor,

Research, University of California, Los Angeles

JONATHAN D. POLLACK, Senior Advisor for International Policy,

The RAND Corporation

NEIL J. SMELSER, Director,

Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences

JOHN D. STEINBRUNER, Director,

Foreign Policy Studies Program, The Brookings Institution

ROBERT H. WERTHEIM, Rear Admiral (retired),

U.S. Navy

F. SHERWOOD ROWLAND, ex officio,

Foreign Secretary, National Academy of Sciences

Staff

JO L. HUSBANDS, Director

MATTHEW BUNN, Plutonium Study Director

LOIS E. PETERSON, Research Associate

LA'FAYE LEWIS-OLIVER, Administrative Assistant

MONICA OLIVA, Research Assistant

Suggested Citation:"FRONT MATTER." National Academy of Sciences. 1995. Management and Disposition of Excess Weapons Plutonium: Reactor-Related Options. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4754.
×

Preface

With the end of the Cold War, the United States and the republics of the former Soviet Union have undertaken arms control on an unprecedented scale. What to do with the fissile materials from the tens of thousands of nuclear weapons to be dismantled has become a pressing problem for international security. Limits on access to these materials are the primary technical barrier to acquisition of nuclear weapons in the world today.

In 1992 the U.S. government asked the Committee on International Security and Arms Control (CISAC) of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to study alternative approaches for dismantling nuclear weapons, and for storing and eventually using or disposing of the plutonium they contain. To support CISAC's work, the NAS formed the Panel on Reactor-Related Options for the Disposition of Excess Weapons Plutonium in November 1992. The panel consists of three members of CISAC and four additional members selected for their relevant expertise on issues related to reactors and reactor wastes (see list of panel members on p. iii).

The official U.S. government sponsor of the project is the Office of Nuclear Energy of the U.S. Department of Energy. Additional support was provided by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and National Research Council funds. The Carnegie Corporation of New York and the MacArthur Foundation provide core support for CISAC, including its policy reports.

The panel's report served as input to the deliberations of CISAC in its broader charge, which included consideration of disposition options not related to nuclear reactors, as well as issues of preliminary storage and management of

Suggested Citation:"FRONT MATTER." National Academy of Sciences. 1995. Management and Disposition of Excess Weapons Plutonium: Reactor-Related Options. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4754.
×

the weapons plutonium.1 The responsibility for the content of the panel's report, which has been subjected separately to the Academy's review process, rests solely with the members of the panel; similarly, the non-CISAC members of the panel bear no responsibility for the conclusions that CISAC drew, in its 1994 report, from this and other inputs.

Like the main committee study, the panel report proved to be an immense undertaking, requiring hundreds of hours of research, drafting, and discussion by the panel members. The panel's basic analysis and conclusions were completed in late 1993, in time to be an essential ingredient of the full CISAC report. It required an additional 18 months, however, to complete the drafting, editing, and review of the panel's report to its satisfaction. The consensus achieved in the fall of 1993 has not changed over that time, but the analysis is now laid out in full detail and documented. It provides substantial additional information and analysis on various reactor-related options beyond that contained in the committee report.

Every member of the panel contributed to the work of the group, with each person responsible for drafting the description and assessment of particular options. Panel chair John P. Holdren, who is also the chair of CISAC, wrote major sections of the report and undertook the formidable task of comparing the various options. The depth and richness of the report reflects his prodigious efforts.

The CISAC staff provided invaluable assistance throughout the course of the panel's work. Study Director Matthew Bunn somehow managed to oversee the work of both the main committee and the panel. He was an essential liaison between the two groups and provided significant intellectual input to the work of both. He drafted major portions of the CISAC report and edited the panel report to harmonize the work of the individual panel members. The project could not have been completed without him.

CISAC's research associate, Lois Peterson, and research assistant, Monica Oliva, provided crucial substantive and administrative support, including the preparation of the manuscript for publication as part of the new National Academy Press program in desktop publishing. Ms. Peterson also served as an additional staff liaison for the panel once Mr. Bunn was burdened with a new assignment. The entire CISAC staff received a group staff award in recognition of its exceptional efforts on this project.

The issue of management and disposition of plutonium from arms reductions has a long history and a voluminous literature, stretching back almost to the beginning of the nuclear age. In recent years these issues have been studied by a wide variety of groups and individuals in the United States, including those associated with the U.S. Department of Energy and other agencies of the U.S.

1  

The CISAC report (National Academy of Sciences, Committee on International Security and Arms Control. Management and Disposition of Excess Weapons Plutonium. Washington, D.C., National Academy Press, 1994) was released prior to the report of this panel.

Suggested Citation:"FRONT MATTER." National Academy of Sciences. 1995. Management and Disposition of Excess Weapons Plutonium: Reactor-Related Options. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4754.
×

government, the Office of Technology Assessment, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Federation of American Scientists, the Center for Energy and Environment Studies at Princeton University, the Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University, the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, several Department of Energy laboratories, and a variety of private companies. Groups and individuals in Russia, Europe, Japan, and elsewhere have also examined the problem. In carrying out their studies, CISAC and the panel benefited greatly from this substantial body of prior work, and extensive communications with many of those involved in it, for which the committee and the panel are profoundly grateful.

In addition, the panel was fortunate to receive help from many parts of the Department of Energy. Staff members from the Department of Energy headquarters and facilities, including Hanford, Savannah River, Los Alamos, and Lawrence Livermore generously gave time to help clarify and resolve technical issues, as well as providing access to relevant experts and materials. The Idaho National Engineering Laboratory merits particular recognition for its significant effort to analyze several aspects of the reactor disposition options, such as non-fertile reactor fuels, carried out without charge to the Academy. Without this assistance, it would have been impossible for the panel to examine the issues in the depth required with the time and personnel it had at its disposal.

As the main CISAC report concludes, there are no easy answers to the problems posed by the fissile materials that are part of the legacy of the Cold War arms competition between the United States and the former Soviet Union. The issues addressed and the options outlined and evaluated will be of critical importance for the future prospects for nonproliferation and arms reduction. Action is urgently needed; in CISAC's words, "The existence of this surplus material constitutes a clear and present danger to national and international security. None of the options yet identified for managing this material can eliminate this danger; all they can do is to reduce the risks."

Page viii Cite
Suggested Citation:"FRONT MATTER." National Academy of Sciences. 1995. Management and Disposition of Excess Weapons Plutonium: Reactor-Related Options. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4754.
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Suggested Citation:"FRONT MATTER." National Academy of Sciences. 1995. Management and Disposition of Excess Weapons Plutonium: Reactor-Related Options. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4754.
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Appendix B: Levelized Annual Costs and Net Discounted Present Value

 

102

   

Appendix C: Avoided Cost and Associated Pitfalls

 

105

   

Appendix D: Predicted Damages From the Doses Permitted by Standards

 

109

   

References

 

112

Chapter 4:

 

Reactor Options

 

116

   

U.S. Plutonium in Current-Generation U.S. Light-Water Reactors

 

117

   

Russian Plutonium in Current-Generation Russian Thermal Reactors

 

136

   

Current-Generation CANDU Reactors

 

144

   

Potential Involvement of West European and Japanese Facilities

 

155

   

Current-Generation Liquid-Metal Reactors

 

161

   

Current Naval and Research Reactors

 

165

   

Advanced Light-Water Reactors

 

166

   

Advanced Liquid-Metal Reactors

 

171

   

Modular High-Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactors

 

181

   

Molten-Salt Reactor

 

189

   

Particle-Bed Reactors

 

192

   

A Dedicated Plutonium-Burner Reactor

 

195

   

Accelerator-Based Conversion of Plutonium

 

196

   

References

 

206

Chapter 5:

 

Disposal of Plutonium Without Irradiation

 

214

   

Introduction

 

214

   

Overview of the Technology

 

216

   

The Choice of Waste Form

 

218

   

Technical Issues Facing Vitrification

 

222

   

Assessment by Key Criteria

 

234

   

References

 

247

Chapter 6:

 

Comparing the Options

 

250

   

Security Comparisons

 

251

   

General Considerations

 

254

   

Timing

 

256

   

Other Indices, Barriers, and Threat-Barrier Interactions

 

269

   

Economic Comparisons

 

280

   

Weapons Plutonium Versus Uranium as Power Reactor Fuel

 

280

   

Completing Existing LWRs

 

306

   

Building New Reactors for Plutonium Disposition

 

312

   

Economics of Vitrification

 

327

   

Economics of Russian Disposition Options

 

327

Suggested Citation:"FRONT MATTER." National Academy of Sciences. 1995. Management and Disposition of Excess Weapons Plutonium: Reactor-Related Options. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4754.
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Page xiii Cite
Suggested Citation:"FRONT MATTER." National Academy of Sciences. 1995. Management and Disposition of Excess Weapons Plutonium: Reactor-Related Options. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4754.
×

Management and Disposition of Excess Weapons Plutonium

Reactor-Related Oprions

Suggested Citation:"FRONT MATTER." National Academy of Sciences. 1995. Management and Disposition of Excess Weapons Plutonium: Reactor-Related Options. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4754.
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Within the next decade, many thousands of U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons are slated to be retired as a result of nuclear arms reduction treaties and unilateral pledges. Hundreds of tons of plutonium and highly enriched uranium will no longer be needed for weapons purposes and will pose urgent challenges to international security. This is the supporting volume to a study by the Committee on International Security and Arms Control which dealt with all phases of the management and disposition of these materials. This technical study concentrates on the option for the disposition of plutonium, looking in detail at the different types of reactors in which weapons plutonium could be burned and at the vitrification of plutonium, and comparing them using economic, security and environmental criteria.

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