Thorium Nuclear Bomb Proliferation Risks


In an article at PhysOrg.com,  nuclear energy specialists from four British universities suggest that, although thorium has been promoted as a superior fuel for future nuclear energy generation, it should not be regarded as inherently proliferation resistant.

Production of 233U (through the irradiation of thorium-232) invariably produces small amounts of uranium-232 as an impurity, because of parasitic (n,2n) reactions on uranium-233 itself, or on protactinium-233. On U-232 decay: The decay chain of 232U quickly yields strong gamma radiation emitters: 232U (α, 72 years) 228Th (α, 1.9 year) 224Ra (α, 3.6 day, 0.24 MeV) 220Rn (α, 55 s, 0.54 MeV) 216Po (α, 0.15 s) 212Pb (β−, 10.64 h) 212Bi (α, 61 s, 0.78 MeV) 208Tl (β−, 3 m, 2.6 MeV) 208Pb (stable) … and in weapons: The hazards are significant even at 5 parts per million. Implosion nuclear weapons require U-232 levels below 50 PPM (above which the U-233 is considered “low grade”


In Science Daily, nuclear scientists warn that thorium, a hyped-up nuclear ‘wonder fuel’ is actually not so wonderful. The article states that “Small-scale chemical reprocessing of irradiated thorium can create an isotope of uranium – uranium-233 – that could be used in nuclear weapons. If nothing else, this raises a serious proliferation concern…Thorium has been promoted as a uranium alternative for nuclear power generation, in large part because it is three to four times more abundant, and deposits are found in many parts of the world. In addition, many scientists have noted that the most common form, thorium-232, cannot actually be used to produce nuclear fission. To be used for nuclear power, thorium-232 must be bombarded with neutrons until it radioactively decays into uranium-233, also producing the highly dangerous and radioactive isotope uranium-232 as a result….The problem is that the neutron irradiation of thorium-232 could take place in a small facility,” Ashley said. “It could happen in a research reactor, of which there are about 500 worldwide, which may make it difficult to monitor….” http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121205132246.htm


In another article via NaturalNews, thorium as “a radioactive element being promoted as a “wonder fuel” by the nuclear power industry is much less benign than it has been presented as being, according to a paper by four nuclear energy specialists published in the journal Nature.


The element in question, thorium, has been portrayed as a potential nuclear fuel source that could not be used to make nuclear weapons.

“We think that the public debate regarding its proliferation-resistance so far has been too one-sided,” said lead author Steve Ashley of the University of Cambridge.

“Small-scale chemical reprocessing of irradiated thorium can create an isotope of uranium – uranium-233 – that could be used in nuclear weapons. If nothing else, this raises a serious proliferation concern.”

Thorium has been promoted as a uranium alternative for nuclear power generation, in large part because it is three to four times more abundant, and deposits are found in many parts of the world. In addition, many scientists have noted that the most common form, thorium-232, cannot actually be used to produce nuclear fission. To be used for nuclear power, thorium-232 must be bombarded with neutrons until it radioactively decays into uranium-233, also producing the highly dangerous and radioactive isotope uranium-232 i as a result. All of this means, thorium advocates say, that the production of weapons-grade uranium from thorium would require the use of large, high-tech facilities that could be easily monitored by nuclear regulators.

Still a proliferation threat The Nature article does not focus on the environmental and health risks involved in producing radioactive uranium-233 and uranium-232 from thorium. Instead, the authors warn that small quantities of uranium-233 can actually be produced using standard lab equipment, without the knowledge of nuclear regulatory agencies.

During its natural process of radioactive decay, thorium-232 breaks down into thorium-233. Just 22 minutes later, much of the thorium-233 decays into an element known as protactinium-233. At this stage, it is possible to separate the protactinium-233 out from the protactinium-thorium mix. Twenty-seven days later, the protactinium-233 will have naturally decayed into uranium-233, without producing any uranium-232 that would need to be handled by large facilities. This natural process could be accelerated, the scientists note, by bombarding the elements with neutrons at each stage.

“The problem is that the neutron irradiation of thorium-232 could take place in a small facility,” Ashley said. “It could happen in a research reactor, of which there are about 500 worldwide, which may make it difficult to monitor.”

Based on prior experiments, the authors conclude that it would take only 1.6 metric tons of thorium to produce the eight kg of uranium-233 required to make a nuclear weapon. It would be possible to refine this much uranium-233 “in less than a year,” they said.

“The most important thing is to recognize that thorium is not a route to a nuclear future free from proliferation risks, as some people seem to believe,” Ashley said.

“We need more debate on the associated risks, if we want a safer nuclear future.”
 http://www.naturalnews.com/038280_nuclear_fuel_proliferation_thorium.html#ixzz2F5gBtwtS

Pro thorium nuclear apologists claim that thorium has no danger associated with it and no health risks either. Find out more about the dangers and health hazards around thorium, by clicking on the following link….


Dr. Caldicott MD; Radioactive Thorium Dangers, Half Life, Health Hazards; via A Green Road

Pro thorium nuclear apologists claim that thorium can easily be used in nuclear power plants, in a cost effective and safe manner. But when it comes to actual examples, here are a couple of plants that failed completely, when this idea was tried. 
Thorium Reactor Fort St. Vrain Power Station Experiment Failed; via A Green Road http://agreenroad.blogspot.com/2012/12/thorium-reactor-fort-st-vrain-power.html


Sodium Cooled Monju Nuclear Fast Breeder Power Plant Accident; via A Green Road http://agreenroad.blogspot.com/2012/12/sodium-cooled-monju-nuclear-fast.html

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Thorium Nuclear Bomb Proliferation Risks; via A Green Road

http://agreenroad.blogspot.com/2012/12/thorium-nuclear-bomb-proliferation-risks.html



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