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Home Dr. Ray Hunter

Fast Reactor Funding

I was directed to go to Japan to inform them of the Clinton Administrations' decision to terminate all fast reactor technology activities including international agreements. I was selected for this assignment because of my good relations with Japan even though my management was well aware that I opposed the decision. The Clinton Administration was convinced by the anti's that fast reactors supported proliferation even through Argonne National Laboratory had demonstrated a nonaqueous recycle process which did not require separation of any weapons usable material. As a result of the decision, DOE cancelled $100 million in previously approved agreements that Japan had offered for metal fuel technology. Recently, Russia has indicted a strong interest in the GE-PRISM and China, South Korea, Japan have made known to DOE that they desire to obtain U.S. metal fuel technology. I am sure India is also very interested as part of their sodium fast reactor program. Based on my past dealings, I believe we could obtain at least $500 million from the interested parties to proceed with a cooperative PRISM demo plant and the transfer of metal fuel technology. This technology transfer would also include a demonstration of using LWR waste to fuel a sodium cooled fast reactor. Hopefully the unresolved waste issue and international interest will cause DOE to move forward on the developed IFR concept. This concept is the only economic, technical and environmentally sound approach to deal with LWR waste and proliferation concerns.

 

Letter to Senator Harry Reid

December 23, 2008



The Honorable Senator Harry Reid
528 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510


Dear Senator Reid;

Since retiring as Deputy Director of the Office of Nuclear Energy in the Department of Energy (DOE), I have continued to have high interest in the progress of nuclear power both in the U.S. and internationally. It is disappointing to see another 8 years go by without addressing the real impediment to expanded use of nuclear power. The decision to treat Light Water Reactor (LWR) spent fuel as waste with Yucca Mountain designated as the sole repository is contrary to nuclear security, sound environmental planning, and economics.

We have already demonstrated the technology to treat LWR spent fuel to extract usable material and make a waste package that is not a terrorist target and can be stored shallow burial or above ground. Rather than be faced with high level and volatile radioactive materials for thousands of years, the treatment of LWR fuel reduces the storage time to less than 500 years with the radiation fixed in solid materials. This attribute provides the opportunity to use multiple government sites to treat LWR fuel and store the waste without requiring the currently defined Yucca Mountain project.

The energy content contained in LWR spent fuel and depleted uranium resulting from weapons production and enriched LWR new fuel production exceeds all the known oil reserves in the world. In my judgment, this available resource must play a major role in the future stability of our planet. At a time when this nation needs manufacturing and construction jobs, revitalization of the moribund U.S. nuclear industry would seem imperative.

DOE sites e.g. Savannah River, Idaho, Los Alamos, Sandia, Nevada, Oak Ridge are all good candidates for location of the Integral Fast Reactor (IFR) facilities necessary to treat the LWR spent fuel. The cost of IFR complex should be the less than $2 billion with annual operating cost in the range of $ 100 million per year. All of the operating costs and some of the initial capitals will be offset by the sale of steam to the private sector and the revenue for accepting the spent fuel from the private sector. This initiative would require a partnership between government and industry with the benefactors being the taxpayers in terms of reasonable electricity rates and high level radioactive storage rates.

This initiative that would have a very positive impact on job creation and would be sustainable and growing as the private sector begins to place new orders for nuclear plants. Advanced LWR designs have already been approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission through an earlier government/ private sector partnership.

I and many others interested in this topic are ready to move forward on this critical endeavor and are prepared to assist. Best wishes for the holidays and for the success of the new Administration and the Congress.


Sincerely,


205 W. 2nd Street
Frederick, Maryland 21701
301-663-1527



cc. The Honorable Senator John McCain
cc. The Honorable Senator Jeff Bingaman
cc. The Honorable Congressman Roscoe Bartlett
cc. The Honorable Senator Barbara Mikulski

 


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Ray Hunter

Ray Hunter began his nuclear career in 1965 Atomic Power Development Associates, Inc (APDA) in Detroit, Michigan. His responsibilities at APDA included conducting sodium technology experiments and performing operational evaluations of the Enrico Fermi Nuclear Plant, the Nation’s first commercial Liquid Metal Fast Breeder Reactor.

Mr. Hunter joined the Atomic Energy Commission, predecessor organization to U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), in 1968 and became Deputy Director of the Office of Nuclear Energy, Science and Technology (NE). For more than 15 years he had line safety and overall management responsibilities for the operations of the Advanced Test Reactor and related facilities at the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory (INEEL);the Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) West site including the Experimental Breeder Reactor II; the Fast Flux Test Facility at Hanford, Washington; the High Flux Isotope Reactor, the Radiochemical Engineering Center, and the Advanced Neutron Source conceptual design at Oak Ridge, Tennessee; and the High Flux Beam Reactor and Brookhaven Medical Research Reactor at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York. He was commended by the Secretary of Energy’s independent Advisory Committee on Nuclear Facility Safety for his management approach and commitment to nuclear safety.

Mr. Hunter also served as the Department of Energy’s senior technical advisor to the Department of State on nuclear technology matters. He accompanied State Department Officials to South Korea, Japan, China, and Russia to develop support for addressing proliferation concerns with North Korea’s nuclear program. He visited Chernobyl multiple times to develop specific technical recommendations for the Shelter Stabilization Project for damaged Unit 4. His recommendations were accepted by the State Department and the international group sponsoring the project. In discussion between State Department Officials and Chinese Officials on nonproliferation, China requested a nuclear technology cooperation agreement with the U.S. Mr. Hunter prepared an agreement and presented it to the Chinese delegation. He received the Pride Award from Secretary Federico Pena for the nuclear cooperation agreement between U.S. and China.

Mr. Hunter retired from DOE in April 1998 and has since consulted with government and industry on many nuclear research and development projects. Recently, Mr. Hunter was requested by the Director of DOE-NE to assist in the reorganization of the Idaho Operations Office in preparation for the new Idaho National Laboratory.

In recognition of his contributions to the development of Liquid Metal Reactor Technology, Mr. Hunter was awarded the Walker L. Cisler Medal from the American Nuclear Society in June 1998.