Letter to the editor: Tempest in nuclear teapot

Tempest in nuclear teapot

Received March 10

There’s a tempest going on in the nuclear engineering (NE) community’s teapot having to do with a belated admission by some recent MIT NE PhDs that they’d “sold” their startup’s (TAP’s) technology to both DOE’s decision makers and their own investors with misleading claims; i.e., that their unique reactor design could simultaneously solve the world’s long term energy supply and “spent” reactor fuel (“waste”) problems.

It turns out that it was indeed too good to be true and therefore that their approach wouldn’t work. People weighing in on this issue seem to be evenly split among camps that pooh-pooh anything that smacks of being antinuclear and those who want to see some heads roll. In my opinion, it’s time to let bygones be bygones. I’m sure that these young folks and their mentors have learned their lesson.

The problem arose because the U.S. federal government’s NE R&D experts decided to abdicate their responsibility to lead and let people who had grown up while exploiting “intellectual property” became the only way to get rich and famous, decide what should be done instead. There’s a lot more to implementing a genuinely sustainable nuclear renaissance than just creating or cornering IP.

Pitting entrepreneurs and/or contractors against each other to do the government’s job (or get its support) just sets up situations in which the biggest liars “win.”

That’s how INL ended up with IWTU.

(Word count: 231)

DARRYL SIEMER

Idaho Falls