By the end of World War II prototypes of thorium-powered reactors had been built and their safe production of power had been amply demonstrated.
According to those in the know, thorium-powered reactors are far safer than uranium reactors — virtually incapable of meltdowns — much cheaper to build — produce about 10 per cent of uranium’s wastes and, among other things, can be scaled to power the need of small communities.
So, one may ask, why, when there was a much safer option, was uranium chosen as the fuel of the future?
Well, it turns out that you don’t get the big bang out of thorium. You know, the big bang that can vaporize cities like Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
In fact, it’s not clear that one can get a bang out of thorium at all.
Under the influence of Admiral Hyman Rickover, who has been called the father of the U.S. nuclear program, uranium was pushed to the fore.
Why? Well uraniums’s byproducts can be easily weaponized. An unholy alliance between corporate American and the U.S. military made sure that uranium was the fuel of choice, despite the fact that its far more unstable and dangerous.
So, as Roy Grigg points out in the North Islander — “We have a planet loaded with nuclear bombs, massive amounts of persistent radioactive wastes, reactors capable of catastrophic meltdowns and unmanageable radioactive contamination.”
The sheeplike behaviour of other countries — Russia, France, England, Canada and many others (including of course, Israel) is equally remarkable. Surely some of them had knowledge about thorium? Ironically, two countries that currently are responsible for pouring much dirty coal smoke into the atmosphere and have extensive nuclear facilities, India and China, are now building models of thorium reactors.
As Three Mile Island and Chernobyl stir restlessly under their concrete and steel enclosures, and Fukashima continues to leak radioactivity into the Pacific Ocean, one has to reflect on this bad decision to use uranium instead of thorium.
And it’s not over yet!