by Kelley Bergman
November 10, 2013
Kelley Bergman is a
media consultant, critic and geopolitical investigator.
She has worked as a journalist and writer, specializing
in geostrategic issues around the globe.
It's Not Green
and Not The Answer to Our
They say it can power a vehicle to run cleanly for 100 years with
one fueling. They say the technology is safe, intrinsically proven
and produces no high-level waste.
Scientists all over the world are
chiming in on thorium as the next viable and alternative energy
source to uranium. However, thorium still represents a very large
threat to the planet whose problems over current nuclear systems
exist only in details.
It is not eco-friendly by any stretch of
the imagination, although it is being promoted as such to nations
around the world. It's not renewable, green or clean and definitely
not the answer to the world's energy crisis as scientists around the
world are deceptively claiming.
Due to its extreme density, thorium is being highlighted for its
potential to produce tremendous amounts of heat.
Many companies have been experimenting
with small bits of thorium, creating lasers that heat water,
producing steam which can power a mini turbines.
According to CEO Charles Stevens
from Laser Power Systems (LPS) from Connecticut, USA, just
one gram of the substance yields more energy than 7,396 gallons
(28,000 L) of gasoline and 8 grams would power the typical car for a
The idea of using thorium is not new. In 2009, Loren Kulesus
designed the Cadillac World Thorium Fuel Concept Car.
Dozens of other companies are investing millions and jumping on the
thorium bandwagon without any foresight or wisdom into the long-term
devasting effects of another nuclear-based problem.
Thorium is now being heavily promoted by the nuclear industry and
various lobbies. Its mining is based on exploitation of workers
forced to work with bare hands and contamination, sacking and
devastation of territories.
Thorium is a radioactive chemical
It produces a radioactive gas,
radon-220, as one of its decay products. Secondary decay products of
thorium include radium and actinium. In nature,
virtually all thorium is found as thorium-232, which undergoes alpha
decay with a half-life of about 14.05 billion years.
As far as nations go,
the United States,
...have all experimented with using
thorium as a substitute nuclear fuel in nuclear reactors.
Carcinogenic Causing Deformities
Besides being radioactive, thorium is also a highly carcinogenic
heavy metal used in military targeting systems and has been
found in honey, milk, and other areas of the food chain where the
military has been testing thorium such as Sardinia.
Sardinia is the second largest
island in the Mediterranean Sea - a paradise with diverse wildlife
and beautiful beaches. For over 50 years Sardinia has been used by
militaries and arms manufacturers as a testing ground for bullets,
bombs, missiles and drones and dangerous chemicals.
Sardinia is the victim of weapons manufacturers, polluting military
activities and a political system that cares about power and money
over the health of people and the environment. An epidemic of
cancers and birth defects is now evident in this region through
their soil, air, food and water contaminated with heavy metals, jet
fuel and other poisons.
The nuclear physicist Evandro Lodi Rizzini of Brescia
University and CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research)
found elevated levels of radioactive thorium 232 and cerium (proving
that the thorium was man-made) in the tissues of 15 of 18 bodies in
the Quirra area of Sardinia where they died of cancer between 1995
On March 24, 2012, prosecutor Domenico Fiordalisi in Lanusei,
Sardinia, indicted twenty people on charges of,
"willful omission of precautions
against injury and aggravated disasters or because they falsely
certified the absence of pollution with the aim to hide the
The documents from Fiordalisi's
investigation have now been turned over to a tribunal for
Fiordalisi opened his investigation when he learned the results of
cancer research in the Quirra area. In the last 10 years, 65 percent
of shepherds were diagnosed with leukemia, lymphomas and autoimmune
He suspected that the materials used in
the polygon contaminated soils, pastures, water and air poisoning
people, plants and animals as a consequence.
On 8 May 2012, Fiordalisi reported to the Parliamentary Committee of
Senators’ Inquiry on DU the results of these investigations led by
him. He detailed how chromium, tungsten and thorium and of the
extreme danger of the alpha particles generated by this substance.
He explained that thorium is much more harmful than depleted
uranium, and that the area of the polygon of Quirra was completely
impregnated. This substance has found its way into cheese, worms,
mushrooms, shepherds and animals: pigs born with six legs and lambs
with a single large eye.
He stated that the 1187 Milan missiles
that were launched between 1983 and 1999 which, in the opinion of
the nuclear physicist Evandro Lodi Rizzini were responsible for an
epidemic of cancers and lymphomas in the military due to the release
of radioactive substances.
Dr. Rizzini said,
"One micro-gram, that is, one
millionth of a gram is sufficient to kill a person. It causes a
rise in atomic disintegrations; with a production of 2000 alpha
rays a day, nuclear radiation is most damaging."
The organizations International
Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons and Mother Earth have good
information about depleted uranium.
"With uranium-based nuclear power
continuing its decades-long economic collapse, it's awfully late
to be thinking of developing a whole new fuel cycle whose
problems differ only in detail from current versions."
Amory Lovins, Rocky
Mountain Institute, March 2009.
Numerous claims of advantages for thorium as a nuclear fuel and for
LFTR (Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor) design have been made over
conventional solid fuel reactors.
Nuclear Weapons Proliferation
Claim: thorium reactors do
not produce plutonium, and so create little or no proliferation
Response: a LFTR could be
adapted to produce plutonium of a high purity well above normal
weapons-grade, presenting a major proliferation hazard. Beyond
that, the main proliferation hazards arise from:
the need for fissile
material (plutonium or uranium) to initiate the thorium
fuel cycle, which could be diverted
the production of fissile
Claim: the fissile uranium
(233U) produced by thorium reactors is not “weaponisable” owing
to the presence of highly radiotoxic 232U as a contaminant.
Response: 233U was successfully used in a 1955 bomb test in the
Nevada Desert under the USA's Operation Teapot and so is clearly
weaponisable notwithstanding any 232U present.
Claim: LFTRs are
intrinsically safe, because the reactor operates at low pressure
and is and incapable of melting down.
Response: the design of molten salt reactors does indeed
mitigate against reactor meltdown and explosion. However, in an
LFTR the main danger has been shifted from the reactor to the
on-site continuous fuel reprocessing operation - a high
temperature process involving highly hazardous, explosive and
intensely radioactive materials.
A further serious hazard lies in the
potential failure of the materials used for reactor and fuel
containment in a highly corrosive chemical environment, under
intense neutron and other radiation.
State of Technology
Claim: the technology is
Response: important elements of the LFTR technology were
proven during the 1970s Molten Salt Breeder Reactor (MSBR) at
Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
However, this was a small research
reactor rated at just 7MW and there are huge technical and
engineering challenges in scaling up this experimental design to
make a 'production' reactor.
Specific challenges include:
developing materials that
can both resist corrosion by liquid fluoride salts
including diverse fission products, and withstand
decades of intense neutron radiation
scaling up fuel reprocessing
techniques to deal safely and reliably with large
volumes of highly radioactive material at very high
keeping radioactive releases
from the reprocessing operation to an acceptably low
achieving a full
understanding of the thorium fuel cycle
Claim: LFTRs produce far less
nuclear waste than conventional solid fuel reactors.
Response: LFTRs are
theoretically capable of a high fuel burn-up rate, but while
this may indeed reduce the volume of waste, the waste is more
radioactive due to the higher volume of radioactive fission
products. The continuous fuel reprocessing that is
characteristic of LFTRs will also produce hazardous chemical and
radioactive waste streams, and releases to the environment will
Claim: Liquid fluoride thorium reactors generate no
high-level waste material.
Response: This claim,
although made in the report from the House of Lords, has no
basis in fact. High-level waste is an unavoidable product of
nuclear fission. Spent fuel from any LFTR will be intensely
radioactive and constitute high level waste. The reactor itself,
at the end of its lifetime, will constitute high level waste.
Claim: the waste from LFTRs contains very few long-lived
isotopes, in particular transuranic actinides such as plutonium.
Response: the thorium fuel
cycle does indeed produce very low volumes of plutonium and
other long-lived actinides so long as only thorium and 233U are
used as fuel. However, the waste contains many radioactive
fission products and will remain dangerous for many hundreds of
years. A particular hazard is the production of 232U, with its
highly radio-toxic decay chain.
Claim: LFTRs can 'burn up' high level waste from
conventional nuclear reactors, and stockpiles of plutonium.
Response: if LFTRs are used
to 'burn up' waste from conventional reactors, their fuel now
comprises 238U, 235U, 239Pu, 240Pu and other actinides. Operated
in this way, what is now a mixed-fuel molten salt reactor will
breed plutonium (from 238U) and other long lived actinides,
perpetuating the plutonium cycle.
What Can You Do?
Spread the word about Sardinia. More information is available at "Sardinia
- Cancer, Contamination, Militarization in Paradise"
where the original 7500-word research document is shown.
Contact your congressional representatives and demand the closure of
the Sardinia NATO bases.
Do we really want another polluting energy source with high-level
waste which is non-renewable and highly carcinogenic?
Before jumping on the thorium bandwagon,
please share this information, do your own research and think twice
before spreading the hundreds of myths (not facts) about this very
dangerous alternative to uranium.