Final proof that eco-consciousness is penetrating into all corners of governance. This generally excellent Scientific American article (subscription only, sadly) on the rather misguided attempts by the military-industrial complex and the US government to replace its aging nuclear warheads with a more modern, “reliable” (but untested) arsenal, doing a little end-run around non-proliferation, contains a little nugget that made me spit my coffee across the table this morning.
The RRW1 [reliable replacement warhead] also would eliminate the need for some of the toxic substances often used in weapons, such as beryllium, a brittle, carcinogenic metal that reflects the neutrons released in a nuclear explosion and redirects them back to start a thermonuclear chain reaction. “Because of the release of the weight requirement, we are able to use materials that are heavier but more environmentally benign,” says Livermore [a spokesman for the laboratory designing the nukes]… You replace [beryllium] with something that quite honestly you could eat and be healthy….
Gosh, that makes me glad. Do you think that last bit holds true after it’s spent that long next to plutonium and uranium? I wonder if I’ll have to unlearn my most reliable childhood rule: “never eat yellowcake”.
The real question is, are they going to carbon offset the 100 kiloton blast?
_(Related opinion piece on the free side of the paywall here