b'C H A P T E R 23T H E E N D O W M E N T O F U RA N I U MWe needed a different kind of reprocessed- his opinions, and he stated his opin-ing. It should be cheap, be part of the ion of Tills reactor in letters to thereactor plant and be as easy to deal Presidents science advisor, the chair-with as routine maintenance. Just turn man of the Senate Energy Committee,the fuel around. A couple of the old and Idahos Senator James McClure.pyroprocessing people at Argonne EastThe support of each of these individu-said, We think we can make electrore als was necessary to start the project.-fining work. They were the best McClure needed assurance that in sup-chemists in the world in that field, for porting a project of obvious benefit tothey had worked with it before. They his home state, he would be on solidhad the expertise to recognize that thistechnical ground. Support for the pro-might be possible. ject followed soon after the letters. 3837So Till and his colleagues developed a Till drove to the Board of Governorsnew reactor concept. At the time, the meeting to make his proposal. On theArgonne Lab was, like the INEL and wa y, he realized that he had not given other national labs, considering what the reactor a name. He decided on Argonne National Laboratory-Westnew initiatives were available in the Integral Fast Reactor (IFR). It was a Dr. Charles Tillworld of the mid-1980s. Argonnes somewhat opaque name that declined toBoard of Governors was asking for pro- use the baggage-laden word breeder And finally, after the TMI accident, theposals. Till prepared one. But first, he but highlighted the integration of the public was losing its faith in the safety made a pilgrimage to visit Hans Bethe. reactor with on-site fuel recycling. Thus of nuclear energy. 39Bethe had been the head of theoretical prepared, Till began by listing the speci-physics at Los Alamos during the fications that the world of the 1980s Taking all that into account, a newManhattan Project and was revered as seemed to be asking of a nuclear reactor. reactor should be inherently safe, burnone of the giants of 20th-century up plutonium in a manner discouragingphysics. Till called on him at Cornell World population was growing, he said. diversion, and not generate large vol-University and described the physics of Demand for electricity would continue umes of long-lasting waste. The IFRthe new reactor concept. to grow. It was important to conserve met these conditions, and EBR-II inall energy resources. It was important Idaho could prove it.We packed up and I took the leading to limit greenhouse gases and preventperson in each technical field with me. rapid global climate change. Asian and Argonne committed to the project,We crowded into his small office, and other economies desired a growing DOE agreed to fund it, and Till had hiseach man gave him a one-hour brief - share of the worlds energy resources if charter. Engineers began to modifying. As he understood a point, he wouldthey were to meet rising expectations EBR-II, the fuel recycling facility, andsay, Yes, yes, yes, indicating that youfor a better material life. At the same TREAT for their new mission. No oneshould move along. time, fear of plutonium diversion was had made even small experimentalcurbing nuclear development. Water- quantities of metal fuels for at least fif-At the end he said, All the pieces fit. moderated reactors were producing plu- teen years, but Leon Walters, the headWhat do you want me to do? tonium as a waste in their spent fuel, of EBR-II metallurgy, knew how it wasand this material was piling up. done. Within a few months, he had fab-Bethes affirmation that the reactor was Isolating it for centuries was a tremen- ricated the fuel elements, and the oldsensible, simple, and likely to work was dous expense, and in the United States, routine of carrying out nuclear experi-all that Till wanted. Bethe had a reputa- at least, the political system had thus ments to prove a principle began oncetion as someone who never sugar-coat- far failed to decide where to store it. more at the INEL. 40233'