After World War II, uranium-based nuclear reactors were built to produce electricity. These were similar to the reactor designs that produced material for nuclear weapons. During that period, the U.S. government also built an experimental molten salt reactor using thorium fuel instead of uranium. That reactor, built at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, was developed by the laboratory’s director, Alvin Weinberg, and operated from 1965 to 1969. In 1968, Nobel laureate and discoverer of Plutonium, Glenn Seaborg, publicly announced to the Atomic Energy Commission, of which he was chairman, that the thorium-based reactor had been successfully developed and tested.
In 1973, however, the U.S. government shut down all thorium-related nuclear research—which had by then been ongoing for approximately twenty years at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The reasons were that uranium breeder reactors were more efficient, the research was proven, and byproducts could be used to make nuclear weapons. In Moir and Teller’s opinion, the decision to stop development of thorium reactors, at least as a backup option, “was an excusable mistake.”
Science writer Richard Martin notes that Weinberg lost his job as director because he championed the safer thorium reactors. Weinberg himself recalls this period:
[Congressman] Chet Holifield was clearly exasperated with me, and he finally blurted out, “Alvin, if you are concerned about the safety of reactors, then I think it may be time for you to leave nuclear energy.” I was speechless. But it was apparent to me that my style, my attitude, and my perception of the future were no longer in tune with the powers within the AEC.
Martin explains that Weinberg’s unwillingness to sacrifice potentially safe nuclear power for the benefit of military uses forced him to retire:
Weinberg realized that you could use thorium in an entirely new kind of reactor, one that would have zero risk of meltdown. . . . his team built a working reactor . . . . and he spent the rest of his 18-year tenure trying to make thorium the heart of the nation’s atomic power effort. He failed. Uranium reactors had already been established, and Hyman Rickover, de facto head of the US nuclear program, wanted the plutonium from uranium-powered nuclear plants to make bombs. Increasingly shunted aside, Weinberg was finally forced out in 1973….
The beauty of Thorium is IT IS IMPOSSIBLE…(((((IMPOSSIBLE)))) For a runaway effect ever occurring…Where as the fuel continues to burn up because of lack of cooling….The direct reason why FUCKashma, Three mile island and Chernobyl has killed countless lifeforms……..TO DATE……
In December 1987, Congress amended the Nuclear Waste Policy Act to designate Yucca Mountain, Nevada as the only site to be characterized as a permanent repository for all of the nation’s nuclear waste. The plan was added to the fiscal 1988 budget reconciliation bill signed on December 22, 1987.
Early in 2002 the Secretary of Energy recommended Yucca Mountain for the only repository and President Bush approved the recommendation. Nevada exercised its state veto in April 2002 but the veto was overridden by both houses of Congress by mid-July 2002
The Obama Administration rejected use of the site in the 2010 United States Federal Budget budget, which eliminated all funding except that needed to answer inquiries from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, “while the Administration devises a new strategy toward nuclear waste disposal.” However, the NWPA is still the federal law and is not a project of the President and can not be canceled by either President Obama or the Energy Secretary. On March 5, 2009, Energy Secretary Steven Chu told a Senate hearing the Yucca Mountain site is no longer viewed as an option for storing reactor waste