10.3.2 – Turn-key capability

The above points regarding the LCFR of course raises the question as to whether any nuclear reactor can be designed with truly turn key capability, or indeed whether we even want to do that (on a practical and security conscious level). Currently the closest thing to anything nuclear with “turnkey” capability are radiation sources used by industry and hospitals, and there have already been a number of cases of such sources falling into the wrong hands, leading to serious contamination incidents (see the Goiania Incident or the Acerinox theft or a number of recent incidents involving “orphaned” Soviet RTG‘s) and several deaths.

And the truth is, as our society becomes more technologically advanced the number of products with true “turnkey” capability is growing rather small. Take your car, these days it’s likely to have more computers running it than the Apollo moon lander! Airlines are frequently wedded to aircraft manufacturers, who will regularly issue service bulletins, or have some of its own staff working permanently on site with major customers. And the primary “end users” of aircraft, pilots, are hardly lay-men!

So requiring our reactors to possess a level of capability that few rival products actually possess would be unfair. That said it’s certainly possible and desirable to reduce the level of dependence of new nuclear plant on a large body of highly paid staff, but inevitably some skilled and specially trained staff will always be required, at least so long as we want them run safely.

And besides which, sometimes the best way to make money on products is through after sales service contracts! Hence, manufacturers have little incentive to make true Turn-key capable products….indeed they have every incentive to do the opposite!


Chapter 10                                            Main Page