UK Parliament Group to Study Thorium Reactors

Two dozen members of Parliament from all major parties have formed an informal committee to study the potential of thorium reactors, according to a thorium advocacy group led by a member of the House of Lords.
Baroness Bryony Worthington, a Labour Party peer (member of the House of Lords) and environmental activist, will chair the group, according to an announcement by the Weinberg Foundation, a non-profit institution founded by Worthington to promote thorium energy.
"If there is a safer ‘green nuclear’ alternative, which also effectively tackles waste, proliferation and energy security, we have a responsibility to future generations to examine it,” Worthington said.
Dominated by members of the Labour Party and Liberal Democrats, the group includes five Conservatives, including its treasurer, Lord Lucas of Crudwell. Eight members come from the House of Commons. The Bishop of Hereford, Anthony Priddis, is also a member.
Thorium is much more abundant in the earth's crust than uranium and releases more energy in fission. Unlike uranium, it doesn't produce plutonium, so there are fewer ways its waste can be used harmfully. Worthington, who opposed nuclear energy until her work in climate change convinced her of its necessity, advocates a liquid thorium reactor based on a Molten Salt Reactor (MSR) design developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the 1960s.
"This reactor was an inherently safer design and massively reduced the generation of long-lived waste," according to the Weinberg Foundation.
"Despite its many benefits, and technical success, the thorium MSR reactor program fell victim to military reactor development which focused on pressurized water reactors which had been used to power naval submarines, and was never fully developed."
Thorium reactors are widely regarded as safer and more practical than conventional water-cooled reactors that use uranium as fuel, but thorium is not without its critics.
The Norwegian environmental group The Bellona Foundation seized upon a 2008 report by the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority that concluded thorium reactors require many of the same safeguards as conventional reactors.
“The NRPA invalidated that thorium is kind nuclear power, as many have earlier asserted,” said Nils Bøhmer, Bellona’s daily manager and nuclear physicist. “Using thorium leads to highly radioactive nuclear waste and the risk of accidents will always be present.”
But a Norwegian government committee concluded that, despite those dangers, thorium is worth investigating:
The Thorium Report Committee finds that the current knowledge of thorium based energy generation and the geology is not solid enough to provide a final assessment regarding the potential value for Norway of a thorium based system for long term energy production. The Committee recommends that the thorium option be kept open in so far it represents an interesting complement to the uranium option to strengthen the sustainability of nuclear energy.
via Thorium As An Energy Source: Opportunities for Norway (pdf)
Former NASA engineer Kirk Sorensen, also a Forbes contributor, explains the potential of thorium reactors in this TED talk:

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