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Author Topic: No We NEVER Needed LWR Nuclear Power Plants to Make Nuclear Weapons  (Read 428 times)

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The MIC inspired propaganda myth about needing all those nuclear power plants built after WWII in order to make bombs  Part 1 of 2 Parts

This article is for JDwheeler and anyone else interested in the truth about why we never needed to build all those water cooled nuclear reactors for bomb grade material. That myth about needing all those power plants to make bombs is another one of those lies put out there to make us feel that it was "worth it" or "justified at the time" to build them. Read how we have been, and continue to be, fleeced by the pro-nuke zealots.

Two types of atomic bomb were developed during the war. A relatively simple gun-type fission weapon was made using uranium-235, an isotope that makes up only 0.7 percent of natural uranium. Since it is chemically identical to the most common isotope, uranium-238, and has almost the same mass, it proved difficult to separate.

Three methods were employed for uranium enrichment:
1. electromagnetic,
2. gaseous and
3. thermal.
Most of this work was performed at Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

In parallel with the work on uranium was an effort to produce plutonium. Reactors were constructed at Oak Ridge and Hanford, Washington, in which uranium was irradiated and transmuted into plutonium. The plutonium was then chemically separated from the uranium.

Isotope separation

Natural uranium consists of 99.3% uranium-238 and 0.7% uranium-235, but only the latter is fissile. The chemically identical uranium-235 has to be physically separated from the more plentiful isotope. Various methods were considered for uranium enrichment, most of which was carried out at Oak Ridge.

The most obvious technology, the centrifuge, failed, but electromagnetic separation, gaseous diffusion, and thermal diffusion technologies were all successful and contributed to the project. In February 1943, Groves came up with the idea of using the output of some plants as the input for others.
In the electromagnetic process, a magnetic field deflected charged particles according to mass. The process was neither scientifically elegant nor industrially efficient. Compared with a gaseous diffusion plant or a nuclear reactor, an electromagnetic separation plant would consume more scarce materials, require more manpower to operate, and cost more to build.

Agelbert NOTE: Of interest to the reader in the map above are the plants for Uranium-235 Concentration (Incredibly called "enrichment" WTF?) Thermal diffusion S-50,  Gaseous diffusion K-25 and K-27, and electromagnetic separation Y-12. Y-12 used TONS of silver for the coils. Most of it was recovered in the period starting after the war to 1970. Electromagnetic separation is too expensive.

Of course since General Groves had a blank check on the taxpayer dime, he chose ALL THE ABOVE for obtaining weapons grade Uranium. The X-10 plant was an air cooled reactor for obtaining Plutonium. I feel sorry for the future cancer fatalities that worked there.


Gaseous diffusion

The most promising but also the most challenging method of isotope separation was gaseous diffusion.

In November 1942 the Military Policy Committee approved the construction of a 600-stage gaseous diffusion plant.

The production plant commenced operation in February 1945, and as cascade after cascade came online, the quality of the product increased. By April 1945, K-25 had attained a 1.1% enrichment and the output of the S-50 thermal diffusion plant began being used as feed. Some product produced the next month reached nearly 7% enrichment. In August, the last of the 2,892 stages commenced operation. K-25 and K-27 achieved their full potential in the early postwar period, when they eclipsed the other production plants and became the prototypes for a new generation of plants.

Thermal diffusion

The thermal diffusion process was based on Sydney Chapman and David Enskog's theory, which explained that when a mixed gas passes through a temperature gradient, the heavier one tends to concentrate at the cold end and the lighter one at the warm end. Since hot gases tend to rise and cool ones tend to fall, this can be used as a means of isotope separation.

Work commenced on 9 July 1944, and S-50 began partial operation in September. Ferguson operated the plant through a subsidiary known as Fercleve. The plant produced just 10.5 pounds (4.8 kg) of 0.852% uranium-235 in October. Leaks limited production and forced shutdowns over the next few months, but in June 1945 it produced 12,730 pounds (5,770 kg).

By March 1945, all 21 production racks were operating. Initially the output of S-50 was fed into Y-12, but starting in March 1945 all three enrichment processes were run in series. S-50 became the first stage, enriching from 0.71% to 0.89%. This material was fed into the gaseous diffusion process in the K-25 plant, which produced a product enriched to about 23%. This was, in turn, fed into Y-12, which boosted it to about 89%, sufficient for nuclear weapons.


Nichols recommended that S-50 and the Alpha tracks at Y-12 be closed down. This was done in September. Although performing better than ever, the Alpha tracks could not compete with K-25 and the new K-27, which had commenced operation in January 1946. In December, the Y-12 plant was closed.

Agelbert NOTE: So, in 1946 the only game in town was Gaseous diffusion for weapons grade Uranium.

HOWEVER, the only game in town for Plutonium was NOT Gaseous Diffusion. They were having some difficulties with Plutonium (the one they were really after then). The X-10 Plutonium plant was air cooled and didn't work too well. The water cooled plants at Hanford had all kind of problems but worked better. Plutonium was found in the urine of scientists at Los Alamos which sort of made working with Plutonium production rather unpopular.  But the military LOVED that Plutonium!

So what did they do? General Groves already had the propaganda machine going full tilt since the bombs were dropped in Japan praising everything nuclear (without mentioning the staggering cost, of course). The propaganda was merely tweaked to put out the "right" mindfork (I mean message, of course). Mind you, after the war, there was a concerted effort to MAKE MONEY for corporations like Du Pont and Eastman and several others that had worked on the Manhattan Project. Never mind that the taxpayer was going to get most of the bill for building the nuclear poison factory infrastructure, predatory capitalism was out to make some capital and make it look disarmingly profitable (remember "too cheap to meter"?).

The military wanted weapons grade bomb material and the corporations (part of the military industrial complex oligarchy that runs this country) wanted to rake in the profits.

THOSE TWO GOALS of TPTB were what were combined to curse us with the  nuclear power plant poison factories sold to us as electrical generation facilities. Admittedly, they do that. The point is that it's much cheaper to generate electricity through other means and also quite problematic for weapons grade Plutonium. You need specialized reactors for that! There is an irreconcilable conflict between the two purposes. Since they could NOT, as you will see, combine the two (but needed to for public approval) they LIED about it.

Gaseous Diffusion was, and is, more efficient than water cooled nuclear reactors at obtaining weapons grade uranium-235. BUT, we weren't going to build Uranium bombs anymore; we were going for Plutonium! So even Gaseous Diffusion was becoming rapidly obsolete. Going from U-235 to Plutonium is tricky but you don't WANT to build a huge water cooled nuclear power plant to do it; you need a very specialized and specific purpose reactor.


Uranium and plutonium are composed of several isotopes, some of which are fissile. To produce an explosive device for military purposes requires the percentage of fissile isotopes (U-235 for uranium, Pu-239 for plutonium) present in the material to be of the order of 93%. The levels reached in the nuclear power industry are, however, much lower; less than 5% for uranium and between 50 and 60% for plutonium.

Plutonium containing high quantities of fissile material i.e. Pu-239 in the order of 90-95 %, is known as weapon-grade plutonium. Plutonium containing lower concentrations, in the range of 50-60 % is known as reactor-grade plutonium. The defiitions of the various plutonium grades are expressed as a percentage of the isotope Pu-240 which is considered as an impurity for weapons manufacturers.

Continued in Part 2
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The MIC inspired propaganda myth about needing all those nuclear power plants built after WWII in order to make bombs Part 2 of 2 parts.

Plutonium-grade      % of Plutonium- 240      
Super-grade      < 3%       
Weapon-grade      < 7%       
Fuel-grade      between 7% and 18% incl.      
Reactor-grade      > 18%   

Reactor-grade plutonium is produced in the core of a reactor when uranium-238 is irradiated with neutrons. Unlike weapon grade plutonium (which is relatively pure plutonium-239), reactor grade plutonium is a mixture of plutonium-238, 239, 240, 241 and 242. It is this mixture of isotopes which renders reactor grade plutonium unsuitable as a weapon-grade material.


The even numbered isotopes (plutonium-238, 240 and 242) fission spontaneously producing high energy neutrons and a lot of heat. In fact, the neutron and gamma dose from this material is significant and the heat generated in this way would melt the high-explosive material needed to compress the critical mass prior to initiation. The neutrons can also initiate a premature chain reaction thus reducing the explosive yield, typically to a few percent of the nominal yield, sometimes called the "fizzle yield".  ;D Such physical characteristics make reactor-grade plutonium extremely difficult to manipulate and control and therefore explain its unsuitability as a bomb-making ingredient.

Hmmm... self initiating chain reaction - not a lot of fun for a bomb storage facility.    All those wild and wooly neutrons zapping everything around does not sound like a normal day at the office.  :o

And this was a problem too:

The odd numbered isotope, plutonium-241, is also a highly undesirable isotope as it decays to americium-241 which is an intense emitter of alpha particles, X and gamma rays. Plutonium-241 has a half-life of 13.2 years which means americium-241 accumulates quickly causing serious handling problems.

Alpha particles, X rays and GAMMA RAYS! Yikes. I know, some wise guy is going to say that "Americium" radionuclide is aptly named.   ;D
Water cooled nuclear power plants do NOT like to be powered down or up. They like to operate at a certain level baseload. Shutting one down is expensive and very time consuming.  That is another reason that harversting U-235 from the core of one these reactors to use as feed stock for making Plutonium-239 somewhere else is not practical.

Why?  ???

By the way, LWR stands for Light Water Reactor.

Weapon-grade plutonium contains mainly Pu-239 which has a half-life of 24,000 years and only very small quantities of Pu-241 (unlike reactor-grade plutonium which can contain around 15% Pu-241.) It is thus relatively stable and can be safely handled with a pair of thick gloves.
To achieve the high percentages of Pu-239 required for weapon grade plutonium, it must be produced specifically for this purpose. The uranium must spend only several weeks in the reactor core and then be removed. For this to be carried out in a LWR - the prevalent reactor design for electricity generation - the reactor would have to be shut down completely for such an operation.
Agelbert NOTE: Sure, it's more stable than nitroglycerin maybe, but you will never get ME to handle that stuff! Where was I?  Right. Making Plutonium pies  :P  for the MIC.

Reactors are generally purpose-built, and reactors built and operated for plutonium production are less efficient for electricity production than standard nuclear electric power plants because of the low burnup restriction for production of weapons grade plutonium.

The types nuclear fission reactors which have been found most suitable for producing plutonium are graphite-moderated nuclear reactors using gas or water cooling at atmospheric pressure and with the capability of having fuel elements exchanged while on line.

To learn all you don't want to know  ::) about the several distinct classes of reactors (Research reactors, Propulsion reactors, Space reactors and mobile power systems, Power reactors, Breeder reactors and Production reactors). go here:


The big deal after the war was to make weapons grade Plutonium-239 because it packs more explosive punch than a Uranium bomb. You can see that there is a conflict between making more electricity or making more Plutonium. There is also a conflict in the type of reactor vessel for this or that.

So, they made up a nice story for us about how we need all those bombs to preserve our freedoms and all those power plants were helping out!    They were not going to make Plutonium directly from water cooled nuclear reactors but they let us BELIEVE they were.  :o  ;) The special purpose reactors came from the hard lessons learned on the Plutonium air cooled graphite X-10 at Oak Ridge, the water cooled special purpose one at Hanford and the work at Los Alamos. Remember that Plutonium is very bad news to work with. It's much, much more difficult to handle than Uranium (which is quite toxic in its own right).

Because of the high rate of emission of alpha particles and the element being specifically absorbed on bone the surface and collected in the liver, plutonium, as well as all of the other transuranium elements except neptunium, are radiological poisons and must be handled with very special equipment and precautions. Plutonium is a very dangerous radiological hazard. Precautions must also be taken to prevent the unintentional formulation of a critical mass. Plutonium in liquid solution is more likely to become critical than solid plutonium. The shape of the mass must also be considered where criticality is concerned.

So, as you can see, there is NO WAY that they could build 400 plus electricity generating nukes to produce Uranium-235 harvested at exactly the right time while shutting down the power plant to send it to a Uranium to Plutonium transmutating special purpose reactor. That means they've got them here and there in secure areas (I hope!) where a special purpose reactor makes weapons grade Plutonium. They already KNOW what Plutonium does to us so I hope they aren't still experimenting on us...

During the Manhattan Project, which gave way to the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, U.S. scientists resorted to secret human testing via plutonium injection on 18 unsuspecting, non-consenting patients.  >:(

This included injecting soldiers with micrograms of plutonium for Project Oak Ridge along with later injecting three patients at a Chicago hospital. Imagine you’re an admitted patient, helpless in a hospital bed, assuming that nothing is wrong when the government suddenly appears and puts weapons-grade plutonium in your blood.  >:(

Out of the 18 patients, who were known only by their code-names and numbers at the time, only 5 lived longer than 20 years after injection.  >:(

Along with plutonium, researchers also had fun  :P with uranium. At a Massachusetts hospital, between 1946 and 1947, Dr. William Sweet injected 11 patients with uranium. He was funded by the Manhattan Project.   

And in exchange for the uranium he received from the government, he would keep dead tissue from the body of the people he killed for scientific analysis on the effects of uranium exposure.  >:(


After the war, with all the debt we racked up, politicians and the military knew the people wouldn't go for that. So the SCAM was on because, despite water cooled nuclear power plants being NOT USABLE for weapons Grade Plutonium, it was more profitable for the "free market" investors while we-the-people were told it was all for lots of cheap electricity so we must help build all these "wonders of technology" with our taxes, bond issues or whatever.     

The point was to NOT have these hugely expensive projects on a defense department budget BUT make people believe we NEEDED them for national security.     And of course, the government ensured we-the-people underwrote the insurance coverage (to this day!) for nuclear poison factory accidents because it seems the "free market" was a bit shy about doing tha-a-a-t.  ;)  ;D 

But the marketing and hype of all things nuclear was in full tilt in 1946 in preparation for the bullding "bonanza", for a few connected predators, of water cooled nuclear reactors. K-25 and K-27 were making lots of radionuclides for "our own good", of course! A market had to be found for these "products" until the new LWR parasites (uh, I mean electrical generation facilities  ;D ) could be built. It's the dawn of the ATOMIC SCAM (uh, I mean "AGE", of course)...

The ability of the new reactors to create radioactive isotopes in previously unheard-of quantities sparked a revolution in nuclear medicine in the immediate postwar years. Starting in mid-1946, Oak Ridge began distributing radioisotopes to hospitals and universities. Most of the orders were for iodine-131 and phosphorus-32, which were used in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. In addition to medicine, isotopes were also used in biological, industrial and agricultural research.

The above is a touchy subject because cyclotrons can make most of the radionuclides needed as tracers for medical tests (they have extremely short half-lives from about a minute to a few days). Again, you don't need a huge beast of a nuclear power plant for them.

Here's what Groves, the Nuclear Con-artist, said in his farewell nuclear propaganda puff piece:

On handing over control to the Atomic Energy Commission, Groves  bid farewell to the people who had worked on the Manhattan Project:

Five years ago, the idea of Atomic Power was only a dream. You have made that dream a reality. You have seized upon the most nebulous of ideas and translated them into actualities. You have built cities where none were known before. You have constructed industrial plants of a magnitude and to a precision heretofore deemed impossible. You built the weapon which ended the War and thereby saved countless American lives. 
With regard to peacetime applications, you have raised the curtain on vistas of a new world.

Source of most of the above quotes:


When the quote is NOT from the Wikipedia article, I have provided a different link.  8)

At that point, the Atomic Energy Commission began DOING what it STILL DOES; tilting the energy "playing field" to make the water cooled nuclear reactors look cost effective  while maintaining strict secrecy on accidents, cancer clusters, water pollution and excessive water use, aquifer contamination, air pollution, crop ground contamination, etc. It's been 24/7 LIES from the words "go nuclear".

Have a nice day.   

Leges         Sine    Moribus     Vanae   
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Nice comment on the above article (I posted it at Renewable Energy Word too.)  ;D

Geoff Thomas   
 June 13, 2014 


This is a most enjoyable discussion, I found A.G. Gelbert's article particularly interesting, - a whole new area there, but one thing I would like to introduce to these discussions is to let go of the concept of Baseload, - it is meaningless, emotionally loaded, and thoughtless.

One could talk of minimum load, maximum load, (up to 20 times higher than minimum load), or even, stretching it, - (as it ignores people, climate, fashion and picayune day to day circumstances) - Average minimum and Average maximum, but baseload? what does it mean? What is the base of baseload? - I can't see any justification for not calling the minimum load as baseload, so let's just call it minimum load and move on.


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Brian Donovan   
 July 1, 2014 

Gilbert, I signed your petition. When I have long comments, I do everything I can to organize them by topic, and eliminate all excess spaces. I use an indent for paragraphs, rather than a whole line.
 But let me read through and respond to your comment. While I agree that the argument was probably used to sell commercial nuclear power, and commercial nuclear is not the most direct route to nuclear weapons....weapons consideration do apply in many ways. Commercial nuclear power is a great cover for weapons programs. Yes, reactor spent fuel rods can be refined more easily than ores to produce weapons grade materials. All the tech used for commercial nuclear power is applicable to weapons. http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2003/04/how_does_reprocessing_fuel_rods_help_build_nuclear_bombs.html
It is easier to chemically separate plutonium from spent fule than to enhance uranium. http://www.ricin.com/nuke/bg/bomb.html
 You also completely leave out the CANDU reactor's bomb potential http://ep.probeinternational.org/1998/06/07/why-candus-are-bomb-kits/
 Yes, if all the subsidize and gov breaks were removed, new fossils and nuclear would lose in the market, but it's still not fair not to give solar, wind and waste to fuels the sort of the gov breaks fossils and nukes got for 100 and 50 years.
 Your graphic is good, but it's even worse:
Without subsidies breaks and protection, electricity prices would
be: rooftop solar Power: 3-6 cents/KWH
Wind Power: 6-7 cents/kWh
Nuclear Power: 11-20+ cents/kWh
Coal Power: 9-32+ cents/kWh
solar 2.3, wind 12B, ethanol 17B, 70B fossils. nukes 120B$
 Yes, turns out peaking and reserve generators were fist installed because "baseload" nuclear and coal cannot throttle, and thus NEED BACKUP POWER. At least as much as solar and wind. What a joke, huh?
 Do you have a link for the injected Pu?
Then I have to ask the question. Did we really have a lot of choices back then? Fossils would have been worse in some ways. I agree, NOW it's no contest. :solar, wind backed by waste to fuels beats the daylights out of nuclear of fossils, but it wasn't always so.
 Don't stop commenting, but you are pushing the wonderful lack of limits renewableworld has given us. Try for efficiency of comment.

A. G. Gelbert   
 July 2, 2014 


Thank you for your serious, logical and fact based response.

I'll try to shorten my comments in the future. The formatting here is a little crazy. If I correct some grammar, everything gets spread out with umpteen spaces and I have to painstakingly go back and reduce the spaces. I'll try to get my grammar right the first time.

Of course, since the nukers think I can't do "basic math", they won't be surprised that I make grammatical errors.

For them I have but one thing to say about their "position" and why they cling to it:

They are part of corruptus in extremis cui prodest scelus is fecit tag team.

Prison is too good for them.

About the 1950's. Here's the straight skinny. The USA went nuts in the 1930s and 40s building hydroelectric facilities. Our electrical grid was about 35 to 40% powered by DAMS! We have yet to achieve those percentages again in renewable energy (yes, I know the grid is MUCH bigger now). The nukes put the dams on the back burner. That was a bad mistake. We had choices. We weren't allowed to make them; the big boyz made them without consulting us, period.

Reactor grade plutonium has way to high a percentage of Pu-240 (> 18%). It's HARD to get it below 7% for weapons grade. A special purpose reactor, as far as I know from what I read, is used for that because you just can't go around shutting down large nukes at exactly 9 or ten weeks after you cooked some fuel rods in them to harvest the low pu240 weapons grade stuff. It makes even less economic sense than the nuclear power plant does!

But I don't know my "maths" according to the nukers so I'll have to go home and eat a uranium sandwich or something!

Thanks for signing the petition!

I'll get back to you on the links. I'm tied up with some legal eagle stuff right now. Take care.
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1955: Why the US Chose Nuclear Energy Over Solar
This amazing excerpt from the book, Let It Shine: The 6000-Year Story of Solar Energy, provides fascinating context to energy choices the US made in the 1950s. It was a pivotal moment for the advent of solar energy, but the US supported nuclear instead.

What's most interesting is all-out backing the US government gave the nuclear energy industry to get it off the ground. Similar histories are likely written about government support for oil and gas when they first emerged. Renewable energy industries have had no such support - infinitesimal by comparison. It's a testament to pioneers in the solar and wind industries and a handful of supportive governments that they are nearing grid parity today.

Prelude to the Embargo
For almost three decades after the end of WWII, the US had few problems with its energy supply. Its industry, commerce, and homes all had ready access to oil and gas from both domestic and foreign sources. Most of the oil was close to the surface, easy to tap, and economical to extract. Foreign governments sold their oil to American companies at extremely low prices, and US government subsidies also helped to keep prices low and profits high. Natural gas prices were also low and enjoyed the same tax advantages as oil.

Corporate spokespeople assured the public that this rosy situation would continue almost indefinitely. With fuel apparently so abundant and cheap, electric companies expanded to meet demand. Liberal government policies made it easy to procure capital to build larger and more efficient power plants. Utilities encouraged greater consumption because the costs of building new plants and installing electric lines could be recovered more easily if customers used more energy.

"Once you had the lines in, you hoped people would use as much electricity as possible," a utility executive remarked. "You wanted to get as much return on your investment as you could." Gas companies took a similar approach - "if you sell more you make more."
They promoted consumption through advertising campaigns and preferential rate structures. It worked as families rushed to buy electric and gas-powered appliances. The growing affluence and postwar baby boom pushed electricity generation up over 500% between 1945-1968, and gas production almost tripled from 6-16 trillion cubic feet during those years. US fuel consumption more than doubled.
Enter Solar
The frenetic pace at which America was gobbling up its energy resources alarmed only a few farsighted individuals. Eric Hodgins, editor of Fortune, called the careless burning of coal, oil and gas a terrible state of affairs, enough to "horrify even the most complaisant in the world of finance."
Writing in 1953, he warned that "we live on a capital dissipation basis. We can keep this up for another 25 years before we begin to find ourselves in deepening trouble." But such warnings were treated with derision or ignored because too much money was being made on energy sales.
A few scientists and engineers took the same dim view and sought an alternative to a fuel crisis they saw as inevitable. In 1955, they founded the Association for Applied Solar Energy and held a World Symposium in Phoenix, Arizona. Delegates from around the world attended, presenting research and exhibiting solar devices.
Israel displayed its commercial solar water heaters, and representatives from Australia and Japan discussed their nations' increasing use of the sun. To many, the symposium represented the dawn of a new solar age, but the careless confidence of energy-rich America squelched that hope here.
Solar energy received virtually no support in the ensuing years, and by 1963 the association found itself bankrupt.
The governments of Israel, Australia and Japan deliberately aided the solar industry, but the US Congress and White House sat on the sidelines. True, as early as 1952 the President's Materials Commission, appointed by Harry Truman, came out with a report, Resources for Freedom, predicting that America and its allies would be short on fossil fuels by 1975. It urged that solar energy be developed as a replacement.

"Efforts made to date to harness solar energy are infinitesimal," the commission chided, despite the fact that the "US could make an immense contribution to the welfare of the free world" by exploiting this inexhaustible supply. They predicted that, given the will to go solar, there could be 13 million solar-heated homes by the mid-1970s.
Atoms For Peace
The Commission advocated for a 50-50 split for nuclear and solar contributions to America's energy future, but the US government lavished billions on atomic power research while spending a pittance on solar. International cold war politics more than technological advantages accounted for the difference.
The Soviet's growing military might and possibility of nuclear warfare dominated. Rather than scare Americans, President Eisenhower decided to give nuclear weapons a happy face by introducing the peaceful atom.
At the United Nations in 1953, Eisenhower assured the world body of US determination to help solve the fearful atomic dilemma - "to find the way the miraculous inventiveness of man shall not be dedicated to his death, but consecrated to life." When he proposed the peaceful use of the atom "to apply atomic energy to the needs of agriculture and medicine ... and to provide abundant electrical energy in power-starved areas of the world" - everyone sprang up and applauded and kept on cheering.
Someone called Eisenhower's plan "Atoms for Peace" and the phrase stuck. Selling the peaceful atom as the world's future energy source suddenly became America's number one priority.

Congress passed the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, making available at no cost to the industry "the knowledge acquired by 14 years and $10 billion worth of government research." In this act, the government pledged to undertake for the private sector "a program of conducting, assisting, and fostering research and development to encourage maximum scientific and industrial progress."
In other words, the government paid all the expenses and took all the risks for the nascent nuclear energy industry. There was no parallel "Solar Energy Act.
People from every national and political inclination heralded the arrival of the atomic age, the "third great epoch in human history." A few people though had second thoughts.
Nobel prize-winning chemist Dr. Glenn Seaborg, who later headed the Atomic Energy Commission, argued that the difficulty of finding sites for disposal of dangerous radioactive waste would severely hamper development. Worse, experts agreed that the owners of atomic power plants could quickly convert their fissionable material to build bombs. Even members of the Eisenhower administration admitted having "some unhappy second thoughts - that 'atoms for peace' could turn into 'atom bombs for all.' The specter of nations in the underdeveloped world arming themselves atomically was "terrifying."
What About Solar?
Dr. James Conant, the American scientist who first oversaw the making of America's first nuclear weapons, agreed that nuclear power was too dangerous and expensive. He urged the nation to instead create a program like the Manhattan Project for the development of solar energy.
The NY Times also suggested the government should "transfer some of its interest in nuclear to solar." But the attitude of Washington and the private sector mirrored that of a nation hypnotized by seemingly limitless supplies of cheap fossil fuel and by the almost magical aura surrounding nuclear energy.
Life Magazine put it aptly in an article, "The Sun: Prophets Study Rays for Far-Off Needs." A few farsighted scientists are dreaming of ways to save the US when coal, oil, gas and uranium run out. That may be 200-1000 years away, the article said.
George Russler, chief staff engineer at the Minneapolis-Honeywell Research Center, suggested that solar energy could better tackle the growing need to replace oil by providing heat for houses and office buildings. He pointed out that the low-temperature heat required "ideally matches the low-grade heat from the simplest and most efficient solar energy collectors."
This was the perfect way to start putting solar to widespread use and ameliorating the ominous circumstance that the number of new oil discoveries in the US had fallen every year after 1953, while reliance on imported oil kept growing. In fact, in 1967, for the first time in the nation's history, crude oil reserves declined.
And renowned oil engineer Marion King Hubbert predicted in 1956 that American petroleum production would peak between the late 1960s and early 1970s. Most in the oil industry ridiculed his work, but in 1970 the laughing ceased. His prediction had come to pass.
This is an excerpt from an article in the May/June issue of Solar Today.
John Perlin, author of Let It Shine: The 6000-Year Story of Solar Energy (2013) is an analyst in the Department of Physics and Director for implementation of solar and energy efficiency at University of California/ Santa Barbara. He writes and lectures widely on the history of energy, solar in particular. Check out his website: http://john-perlin.com/

Agelbert Comment:
Great article!
But I would like to add a few salient details of the history not mentioned in it.
1) The cost of the Manhattan Project was far more than 10 Billion dollars. Despite that fact, we-the-people were NEVER given a credit on privatized for profit nuclear power. We paid for the development, we ensured the power plants from radiation accidents and we paid to make utility investors an ARTIFICIAL profit. This is an obscenity.
2) Nuclear power plants were TOTALLY unnecessary for nuclear medicine because a cyclotron can make all the short lived isotopes needed for tracers in nuclear medicine. Eisenhower (and General Groves) KNEW that. The UN speech was hype.
3)Most of our bombs DID NOT come from commercial nuclear reactors because, by their very design, they had too much "product" of a very unstable isotope of Plutonium that must be kept to a very low percentage in order for the material to be considered "bomb grade" plutonium. You have to shut the plant down a few weeks after a start up and harvest the product at exactly the right time. That is not feasible (cold shut downs and starts every few weeks for a commercial nuclear power plant). SPECIALIZED nuclear reactors were built specifically to make the bomb grade plutonium. We-the-people paid for them too! BUT, we were ALLOWED to believe nuclear power plants were a huge risk to underdeveloped countries and a resource to be cherished and protected because of the "Bomb product potential". It was a LIE. We-the-people actually preserved MORE profit for the investors by allowing the U.S. Government to provide MORE "protection" in the form of SECRECY in the private sector of nuclear power. A club was created. We-the-people paid for it including funding university nuclear physics departments and keeping the cloak of secrecy under the guise of "national security" (NOT! - it was REALLY nuclear club JOB SECURITY).
4)With this backing, all sorts of pollution and mendacity about accidents and leaks and cancer clusters and epidemiological studies proving children near power plants had higher cancer rates were keep from we-the-people. The profits just keep coming in for the investors and rampant externalized costs (that would make the coal mining industry blush!) from uranium mining cancers to sloppy nuclear waste "disposal" in the oceans, etc. were ALL kept out of the public view.
In other words, the "national security" monicker was used to defraud the American public of billions of dollars for a technology that has NEVER been profitable when all the environment AND energy costs of extraction to disposal are ACTUALLY accounted for.

Full details at the link below:

Leges         Sine    Moribus     Vanae   
if it has not works, is dead, being alone.


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