Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on July 18, 1976 · Page 10
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July 18, 1976

Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 10

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Charleston, West Virginia
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Sunday, July 18, 1976
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19 \ --July 18, 1976 Sunday Gaiette-Mail Charleston, Wt»t Virginia Atomic Weapons Development Risk Fuels Recycling By Edward Cowan (C A'eie York Timet Service WASHINGTON - In hopes of lessening the risk that nucelar electric-power reactors might help other countries make atomic weapons, the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency is examining a new approach to the recycling of spent uranium fuel rods. As the American nuclear industry now foresees the latter stages of the power- reactor fuel cycle, the spent rods would undergo chemical processing that would separate uranium from plutonium. Those two metals would then be recombined in different form for use as a mixed-oxide reactor fuel. But the new approach being examined by the armed control agency would omit chemical separation and the fabrication of mixed-oxide fuel. It is at these two stages of the fuel cycle, including transportation and storage, that robbery or clandestine theft of plutonium are believed to be easiest, and security problems greatest. Atomic weapons can be fashioned from small quantities of plutonium, perhaps as little as 20 pounds. The new idea is to recycle the spent fuel directly to a different type of reactor, a natural uranium reactor, as distinguished from the enriched-uranium type commonly used in the United States. "Enriched" means that the proportion of the fissionable U-235 isotope occurring in natural uranium is raised by an energy-intensive filtering process. * * * IF THE FUEL rod is transferred to a natural uranium reactor without chemical treatment, the rod remains radioactive and the plutonium relatively inaccessible. After it is used a second time, officials say, there would be so little plutonium left that separation to recover still more reactor fuel would not be profitable. With enriched uranium, the medium that moderates the chain reaction is ordinary water. With natural uranium, it is heavy water, or deuterium, which has a slightly greater atomic weight. The heavy water, natural uranium reactor is the standard model in Canada, where it is called the Candu. Canada and Germany have exported them, Britain has built them and Japan is building its first. Worldwide, there are some two dozen built or on order, including seven in Canada. The so-called tandem cycle, in which spent, radioactive fuel rods would be loaded into heavy water reactors, has been studied for six weeks in the disarmanent agency's nuclear technology bureau under the direction of its chief, Thomas D. Davies. He and the agency's director, Fred C. Me, are cautious but optimistic in their appraisal. They belivve thtat their findings so far, assisted by about $120,000 worth of outside advice, argue for further evaluation. They hope that public disclosure will elicit support and ideas from the many scientists and engineers who share Washington's mounting anxiety about the dangers of nuclear proliferation. The officials also expect strong resistance from reactor vendors and others with commercial and emotional commitments to reprocessing, including the companies sponsoring an unfinished reprocessing plant in Barnwell, S.C., that seeks federal help. Reactor vendors are expected to resist the new approach because it relies that the market for the type of reactor they now sell would shrink. That is, some propora- tion of new enriched uranium reactors would be displaced by natural uranium reactors. Presumably, Canada would have a head start if not a long-term'advantage in competing for such orders. * * * THE TANDEM fuel cycle was described last week by Ikle and Davies to senior officials of the Energy Research and Development Administration. Ikle hopes ERDA will devote a small fraction of its annual nuclear energy development budget to examining the tandem cycle. "It's a little too early to give a serious evaluation," said Richard W. Roberts, an assistant administrator of the energy research agency, "but it sounds intriguing and worthy of having our guys take a look at." According to Davies, the old Atomic Energy Commission first looked at the tandem-cycle idea in 1960, when it was discussed in papers written by William Bennett Lewis, a pioneering Canadian developer of the Candu reactor. The problems that impressed the AEC then still exist, officials say, but the dangers of proliferation are now greater. The principal problem is said to be adapting the 10-foot long light-water reactor fuel rods to the three-foot lengths that fit CANDU reactors. One way would be to grind up the spent rod and repackage it. Another might be to design a dual-purpose rod that could be clipped into pieces, and to forget about the spent fuel already in storage. A third way would be to redesign heavy water reactors to accept 10-foot rods. Each method poses problems. A second big problem is devising fuel- handling methods and equipment for feeding the radioactive rods safely into the heavy water reactors. The disarmament agency believes that in addition to lowering the threat of proliferation the tandem cycle would conserve uranium, diminish radioactive waste- management problems, yield about as much energy as separation recycling would and economize energy-intensive enrichment services. New Economic Theory Remarkable By Edwin L. Dale Jr. (C) New York Times Service WASHINGTON--A remarkable development has taken place in economic thought in the industrial world, and particularly in the United States. It can even be termed a new theory. Its adherents, though with some nuances of differences, range from William Simon to Otto Eckstein, from the conservative president of France to the Socialist prime minister of Britain. The new theory states that in the modern world, inflation-or at least a worsening of a given state of inflation--is itself · a cause of recessionand unemployment. It is almost the exact opposite of the older, familiar view that a little more inflation is a reasonable price to pay for government policies to expand demand and reduce unemployment. The most striking evidence of the acceptance of the new theory came in the communique last month of the finance and economic ministers of the 24 industrial nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris. In describing the "stragegy" agreed .upon by the ministers for the years ahead, the communique said, "The basic premise on which this strategy rests is that the steady economic growth needed to restore full employment and satiffy rising economic and social aspirations will not prove sustainable unless all member countries make further pgrogress toward eradicating inflation. Due weight must also be given to features of the present situation which seem to point to the need for caution in the pursuit of expansionary policies. . .Because of the virulence of the recent inflationary experience, there is a danger that inflationary expectations could revive quite strongly if the pace of the economy is too fast." * * * THE COMMUNIQUE went on to say that a return to full employment will "take a number of years" and advocated a policy of only "moderate" economic growth in the neighborhood of 5 per cent for the next five years. The same policy, though somewhat less explicitly, was reflected in the joint declaration that followed the economic summit meeting in Puerto Rico. This line of thought-thai the main danger to achievement of high employment is a worsening of inflation-has become a familiar feature in the comments of Simon and of Alan Greenspan, the chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisers. But it is not limited to them. For example, the latest assessment of the U.S. economic situation by Eckstein, a former Democratic member of the Council of Economic Advisers, through Data Resources, Inc., which he heads. /·.' H i » . . \ . ·· ~ takes comfort in the slowing of expansion in the current second quarter. It finds the outlook good all through 1977 at least, but only on the assumption that inflation does not worsen signifcantly. Its "pessimistic" alternative outlook is described in these terms: "(The pessimistic alternative) is characterized by more aggressive spending on the part of business and the consumer thar in the control forecast. This, in turn, spawns additional inflation, putting the economy and the Federal Reserve on a collision course as near-term interest rates are pushed up to 9-10 per cent in 1977. As a consequence, business and consumers become more cautious; investment is cut back and spending begins to tail off.. .Real GNP actually declines from 1977 to 1978." Charles L. Schultze of the Brookings Institution, also a leading Democratic economist, recently put the matter this way: "The real problem-is that every time we push the rate of unemployment toward acceptably low levels, by whate er means, we set off a new inflation. And, in turn, both the political and economic consequences of inflation make it impossible to achieve full employment or, once having achieved it, to keep it there." * * * THERE IS SOME fairly dramatic evidence of the validity of the new theory in the behavior of American consumers in the last 12 months. Every time there has been an upward "blip" in the inflation rate, retail sales have slowed. Townsend- Greenspan Co., Inc. commented recently, "The May relapse and June recovery in sales highlights the critical role which the consumer's caution and sensitivity to inflation is plating in the current economy. When the threat of inflation heightens, as it seemed to in April and May, consumers quickly retrench." A concise summary of the new situation, and the new theory, was given recently by H. Johannes Witteveen, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund: "There seems to have developed of late such an unusual sensitivity to inflation that an acceleration in the rate of price increase in ail likelihood would have sigr-if:- cant adverse effects on demand, production and employment." This is quite a chorus. But does Jimmy Carter buy the new theory? There is no evidence so far that he does, and his public comments would imply that he still accepts the older view of inflation and employment. U.S., Soviets to Cooperate On Antarctic Waters Study MOSCOW (AP) - The Soviet Union and United States have agreed to cooperate in studying antarctic waters to determine the effect of the South Pole on the world's climate, Tass reported Saturday. Polar explorers from each country will team up on research ships on the Australian and South American sides of Antarctica, the news agency said. A memorandum on the cooperative research project was signed Friday in Leningrad after a five-day conference for polar explorers from both countries. Ward Nolin, a Texas University professor and chairman of the executive committee of the international program for exploring the southern ocean, signed for the American side. Alexei Treshnikov, director of the Soviet Arctic and Antarctic Institute, signed for the Soviet side. Head of France's Last Africa Colony Resigns (C) New York Timti Service Jail Term 6 Best Thing To Happen' to Inmate VIRGINIA CITY, Nev. (AP) - Rod Sessum walked out an open jail door to freedom Saturday. Actually, the door had been unlocked for months and Sessum says the sentence was "about the best thing that ever happened to me." Instead of staying behind bars, Sessum, 19,-had worked at odd jobs around this old mining town and often ate dinner at residents' homes instead of in his century-old cell. By the time he finished his jail term, he had friends, gifts of clothes, offers of full- time jobs, a college scholarship, donations of money and even an old car -- which he rebuilt and got to run on Thursday. « » » THE YOUTH, first convicted of assault in the robbery of a hitchhiker, got probation but was later caught in his home state of Louisiana driving a stolen car. He was returned here as a parole violator and in October 1975 was sentenced to a year in jail. Normally authorities would send prisoners to the state prison in nearby Carson City. But Sheriff Bob Del Carlo said because of Sessum's youth authorities decided to let him stay in the dungeon-like jail. After Sessum's first six weeks of imprisonment, the cell door was unlocked. He began working around town, getting a chance to meet residents of the community. "If I had been anywhere else I wouldn't have had this happen," said Sessum. "I wouldn't have made the friends that I made here." Sessum, asked whether he figures he can now make it in the outside world, said, "Oh, yes, I think I can make.it." « * * HE SAID HE plans to rent a house with another youth here for the rest of the summer and then go to Sierra Nevada College at Incline Village, Nev., in the fall. In the meantime he is trying to line up "some outside work. I don't like to be inside all day long." Sheriff Del Carlo said Sessum "has come around 100 per cent since we got him. He knows now what he is capable of. He has a lot of self-confidence he didn't have before." Residents here "aren't bending over backwards for him, but they're sure willing to go along if he is willing to show he can do what he has to, and show that he _ cares," said Del Carlo. PAKlS-Ali Arif Bourhan said Saturday that he was resigning as president of France's last African possession, the territory of Afars and Issas, strategically located at the mouth of the Red Sea. Arif indicated on arrival in Paris from the territorial capital of Djibouti that his resignation had been forced by France. His departure as president of the territory's council of ministers was another step in the delicate process in which France is trying to maintain its influence in the territory, which is due to become independent next year. * * * FRANCE WANTS to retain, through a friendly new government, its presence in Djibouti, which serves as a base from which its navy can patrol not only the mouth of the Red Sea, but also the Indian Ocean tanker lanes along which 80 per cent of French oil supplies move. The territory's bordering countries, Ethiopia and Somalia, are both deeply concerned with the political bent of the potentially new nation, whose population comprises the Afars, a tribe who have generally favored French influence, and Issas, who are ethnically tied to Somalia, which is now heavily influenced by the Soviet Union. Some ranking French officials and Western diplomats feel that tension in the territory -15 people were killed and 65 injured in political-tribal clashes in Djibouti recently - could turn it into "a new Angola," in the words of one official. * * * ARIF'S INFLUENCE in the territory has been declining in recent months, as more than half of the 40-member parliament has begun to oppose him. Thursday, the French high commissioner for the territory. Carmille d' Oranano, instructed the parliament to convene next week to consider a move to censure Arif. Some analysts in Paris saw this decision as an indication that France no longer felt that Arif was the leader best able to prepare for the emergence of a pro-French independent nation, with a referendum on independence expected early next year. On arrival in Paris Saturday, Arif said he was resigning because there was a "deliberate will" to undermine him as president. "My faithfulness to France has not received a response," he said. "I am disappointed." He said his resignation was the result of the wish of "certain persons, but happily not of all the French." Soviet Actor Yanshin Dies MOSCOW (AP)-Mikhail M. Yanshin, who spent more than a half century in the Soviet theater world and became one of its best-known dramatic actors and producers, has died, Soviet television reported Saturday. Yanshin became chief producer of Moscow's Stanislavsky Dramatic Theater in 1950. The report did not say when Yanshin died. He was 75. Gets Grants MORGANTOWN-West Virginia University has received a ?19,210 grant from the U.S. Energy Research and Development Administration for remote sensing studies applied to fossil fuel and a $3,500 grant from the World Health Organization to continue research on the modes of anti- malarial action by compounds. OURS. SAVE $ 50 INTRODUCTORY OFFER NOW 189.95 GOES TO 239.95 AFTER SALE STYLIST* FREE ARM MACHINE Lowest price ever on a Singer free arm machine! 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