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Fast Flux Test Facility: A Reactor in Search of a Mission


For Immediate Release:

Aug.30, 2000

Fast Flux Test Facility: A Reactor in Search of a Mission

Proposal to Reopen Reactor is Reckless

SEATTLE, Wash. – In testimony before the Department of Energy (DOE) today, PublicCitizen urged the department to abandon its plans to reopen the controversial Fast FluxTest Facility (FFTF) – the most contaminated nuclear site in the western world.

The DOE’s rationale for reopening the facility is to create radioactive materialsfor food irradiation, to make plutonium and to conduct research. “Claimsby the DOE that we need to produce radioactive material to irradiate food are absolutelyfalse,” said Wenonah Hauter, director of Public Citizen’s Critical Mass Energyand Environment Program. “Using irradiation to make our food supply safe is likeusing a chain saw to cut butter – it’s excessive and unnecessary. Cleaning upfilthy factory farming and slaughtering practices will provide American families withsafe, wholesome food.”

The FFTF was built at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington in 1980 to serve asa fuel and material irradiation test facility but was closed in 1993. It was consideredunprofitable to keep open solely for research purposes, and commercially viable uses forit could not be identified. Decommissioning the plant would cost about $70 million, whilerestarting it would cost more than $284 million with an additional $100 million per yearto operate at full power.

“The DOE is creating a new taxpayer boondoggle,” Hauter said. “Insteadof concentrating on cleaning up the environmental nightmare at Hanford, it is trying torestart the reactor to create more radioactive material. It is nothing but a welfareprogram for the nuclear establishment.”

The FFTF is a 400-megawatt, sodium-cooled “fast breeder” reactor, which ismore dangerous than standard reactors because it is particularly susceptible to powerinstability. The United States, France and Japan have experienced alarming accidents withthis type of reactor.

“The FFTF is an inherently dangerous reactor that could pose major health andsafety problems for the people of Washington and Oregon,” Hauter said. “The U.Sexperience with this type of ‘fast breeder’ reactor argues against restartingit.”

Read the entire testimony

The Fast FluxTest Facility: A Reactor Looking for a Mission