October 03, 2008

Thorium Legislation Before Congress

One of the Brickmuppet's Crack team of Science Babes relays this bit of important information from Kirk Sorensen.

I want to alert you to an exciting development in the US Senate regarding
thorium--legislation introduced by Senators Hatch and Reid to amend the US
Atomic Energy Act to further the utilization of thorium as a planetary
energy source. This represents what so many of us have been saying and
hoping for for so long, a safe clean abundant energy future powered by

Here is a link to the text of the legislation and the press release from
Senator Hatch's office:

Thorium is abundant and can be used in nuclear reactors much like Uranium.

Even better, when used in a liquid fluoride reactor, thorium is extremely efficient and can be utilized to reprocess nuclear waste reducing the amount of waste that has to be disposed of significantly*. Its efficiency would reduce waste further and likewise reduce radioactive fuel consumption...extending our reserves significantly.  As an additional perk, the US has huge thorium reserves.  Given the vast increase in available fuel combined with the incredible efficiency of the fuel cycle, adding thorium to our energy mix has the potential to massively increase our fuel reserves. This seems great and we've enthusiastically blogged about it before. However, it has NOT gotten any official support.

Until now.....

 There is a discussion of this over at Energy From Thorium and there is more on recent developments in thorium power here and here. Nuclear power developments including thorium news from the US and India are mentioned here.

That this is actually before congress is an extremely important development and potentially a real breakthrough.

While the bailout is immediate in importance, as soon as that is resolved, write your congress in support of this legislation. It may hold the key to our future.

* This explains why normally anti-nuke Harry Reid is a co sponsor. It promises to vastly reduce the amount of waste that would need to be stored at Yucca Mountain.

Text of he legislation is below the fold.

To amend the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 to provide for thorium fuel cycle nuclear power generation.


introduced the following bill; which was read twice
and referred to the Committee on

To amend the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 to provide for thorium fuel cycle nuclear power generation.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


This Act may be cited as the "Thorium Energy Independence and Security Act of 2008".


Congress finds that—
(1) the United States and foreign countries will require massive and increasing quantities of energy during the 20-year period beginning on the date of enactment of this Act to support economic growth;

(2) nuclear power provides energy without generating unacceptable quantities of greenhouse gasses;

(3) the generation of nuclear power in the United States and many foreign countries has been discouraged by concerns regarding—(A) the proliferation of weapons-useable material; and (B) the proper disposal of spent nuclear fuel;

(4) nuclear power plants operating on an advanced thorium fuel cycle to generate nuclear energy—(A) could potentially produce fewer weapons-useable materials than uranium-fueled plants; and (B) would produce less long-term waste as compared to other nuclear power plants;

(5)(A) thorium is more abundant than uranium; and (B) the United States possesses significant domestic quantities of thorium to ensure energy independence;

(6)(A) thorium fuel cycle technology was originally developed in the United States; and (B) cutting-edge research relating to thorium fuel cycle technology continues to be carried out by entities in the United States; and

(7) it is in the national security and foreign policy interest of the United States that foreign countries seeking to establish or expand generation and use of nuclear power should be provided—(A) access to advanced thorium fuel cycle technology; and (B) incentives to reduce the risk of nuclear proliferation.


Chapter 19 of title I of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 (42 U.S.C. 2015 et seq.) is amended by inserting after section 244 the following:

"(a) DEFINITIONS.—In this section:
"(1) CHAIRMAN.—The term "Chairman" means the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
"(2) OFFICE.—The term "Office" means an office established under subsection (b)(1).
"(3) SECRETARY.—The term "Secretary" means the Secretary of Energy.

"(1) ESTABLISHMENT.—The Secretary, in consultation with the Chairman, shall establish, and provide funds to, an office for the regulation of thorium fuel cycle nuclear power generation in each of—
"(A) the Office of Nuclear Energy, Science and Technology of the Department of Energy; and
"(B) the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
"(2) REGULATIONS.—Not later than December 31, 2012, the Chairman, in cooperation with the
18 heads of the Offices, shall promulgate regulations for facilities and materials used in thorium fuel cycle nuclear power generation.
"(3) DEMONSTRATION PROJECTS.—The heads of the Offices, in cooperation with the head of the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory, shall carry out demonstration projects for thorium fuel cycle nuclear power generation at the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory.
"(4) INTERNATIONAL PARTNERSHIPS AND INCENTIVES.—The heads of the Offices shall provide recommendations to the Secretary with respect to methods of—
"(A) strengthening international partnerships to advance nuclear nonproliferation through the design and deployment of thorium fuel cycle nuclear power generation; and
"(B) providing incentives to nuclear reactor operators in the United States and foreign
countries to use proliferation-resistant, low waste thorium fuels in lieu of other fuels.

"(c) REPORT.—Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of the Thorium Energy Independence and Security Act of 2008, and annually thereafter, the Secretary shall submit to Congress a report describing, with respect to the preceding calendar year—
"(1) progress made in implementing this section; and
"(2) activities carried out by the Offices pursuant to this section.

"(d) AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.—There are authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary to carry out this section $250,000,000 for the period of fiscal years 2009 through 2013.’’.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 05:37 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
Post contains 1026 words, total size 10 kb.

1 Pixy Alert
Formatting this post was difficult as the pasted text would not stay within margins..... and I just noticed that in extended mode parts of the pasted (quoted) text is cut off on the right.


Posted by: The Brickmuppet at Sun Oct 5 18:27:39 2008 (V5zw/)

2 Why have we not heard more about research into this possible alternative energy source?

Posted by: Alternative Energy at Fri Dec 26 04:58:25 2008 (cqqS0)

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