b'C H A P T E R 24T H E U RA N I U M T RA I L F A D E Sbut it lacked the great volumes of cont- Three weeks after the IFR fuel had I n i t ia l ly , the stark contrast between the aminated water and long-half-life passed its test so well, an accident safe and harmless shutdown of EBR-IIchemicals typical of Chem Plant recov- occurred at the Chernobyl reactor in the and the dramatic events at Chernobylery processes. USSR, overshadowing the good news. each initiated by the same turning off ofFar worse than the TMI accident, steam the coolant pumpsworked to theThe recycling of plutonium promised and fuel vapor explosions blew the top advantage of the IFR, but as the decadeto assuage fears about terrorist diver- off the reactor and released into the ended, the political environment insion. Because the plutonium was atmosphere great quantities of radioac- Washington, D.C., became more hostilemixed up with other TRU elements and tivity, more than that released in the to the IFR. Many of the nuclear oppo-fission products, it was dirty, impure, bombing of Hiroshima. Opponents of nents from the Carter years still wieldedand highly radioactive, not the kind of nuclear power felt confirmed in their influence at policy-making levels.weapons grade material required for objections to any and all nuclear reac- Consumer advocates like Ralph Nadermaking bombs. If someone managed to tors, even the IFR. To the shelves of called for the government to give upsteal it, the would-be bomb-maker nuclear literature were added books nuclear research altogether and concen-would have to refine it in a facility with titles such as as Final Warning: trate on renewable energy alternatives.similar to the Chem Plant. Terrorists or The Legacy of Chernobyl. 5 By the time Bill Clinton won electionrogue states would as president inhave a hard time 1992, the weighthiding one of those. of political senti-ment continued toAr gonne proceeded. be unfavorable forAdditional prepara- nuclear power. Intions and safety fact, in his firststudies were State of the Unionrequired before address, he toldlaunching the final Congress that heexperiments.Wh felt nuclear powerenall was ready, EBR- research was noII would need to longer needed. 6burn IFR fuel in thereactor for two To nuclear oppo-years or so, recycle nents, the IFRthe spent fuel into looked like anynew fuel pins, and other dangerousthen burn the new p lut onumb r ee d-i -efuel for another two ing reactor. Th years. This would Argonne National Laboratory-West 15242 program was can-close the loop and demonstrate the The Integral Fast Reactor concept. Fuel makes celed in 1994, despite the best efforts ofcontinued reliability of the reactor electricity and when spent, goes next door to be the Idaho congressional delegation tooperating on its new recycled fuel recycled as new fuel pins. keep the project funded. Ar gonne shutwhile producing electricity at the same down EBR-II for the last time ontiSeptember 30, 1994. It had not had its me .chance to demonstrate the full fuelcycle. After a technically sensationalthirty-year run, the reactor was grounded237'