Cover Image

PAPERBACK
$54.25



View/Hide Left Panel

fuel, that is, fuel removed from reactors after useful fuel life. This spent nuclear fuel is highly radioactive and thus might be seen as a potential material to be used with conventional explosives to construct an improvised radiological device, or dirty bomb. The amounts of such material are vast, but the difficulties of using it are also large because of the intense radiation field associated with spent fuel. Similarly, liquid and, in some cases, solid radioactive wastes are also stored in large amounts in the United States and Russia. Waste is unlikely the material of choice for a device due to difficulty of access, radiation fields associated with the waste storage areas, and difficulty of using it in a device. However, such storage areas do present targets for explosive dispersal.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has increased the design basis threat against which U.S. nuclear power plant operators are required to defend. The Department of Energy (DOE) also has increased the design basis threat against which DOE nuclear laboratories and other nuclear facilities must defend.

CONCLUSIONS

In all these cases, including radiological sources and so-called dirty bombs, the words nuclear and radioactive can cause fear and, if stressed enough, panic. The fear associated with these words is hard to counter. It has been called radiophobia,14 and “it is generally agreed that the greatest consequences of an RDD are public fear and the potentially enormous cleanup costs along with the consequent economic losses.”15

The U.S. National Academies and the Russian Academy of Sciences have worked together for a half-century.16 There is no issue more important for these two institutions than to continue mutual efforts on nonproliferation, including efforts to reduce the threats of radiological terrorism.

13

NRC Committee on End Points for Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste in Russia and the United States. 2003. End Points for Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste in Russia and the United States. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.

14

Bolshov, et al., op. cit., p. 137.

15

Hecker, S. S. 2002. Nuclear Terrorism. P. 151 in High-Impact Terrorism: Proceedings of a Russian-American Workshop. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.

16

Schweitzer, G. E. 2004. Scientists, Engineers, and Track-Two Diplomacy: A Half-Century of U.S.-Russian Interacademy Cooperation. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement