The Dark Knight Rises III: Nuclear Shenanigans

Last week we mentioned that there are some… problems with the way the law is handled in The Dark Knight Rises. Specifically, the corporate angle doesn’t make any sense, and there are some real unresolved issues pertaining to Bane’s occupation of Gotham.

This time, we’re going to look at something mentioned by a few commenters, i.e., how the heck did Wayne Industries build a fusion reactor immediately below Gotham City?

I. Nuclear Regulation

Nuclear energy is, as many have pointed out, something in which the government takes a bit of an interest. So, for example, when a Boy Scout in Michigan got most of the way towards a functioning breeder reactor, the FBI, the EPA, and the local police were not amused. While Chicago Pile-1, the history’s first self-sustaining nuclear reaction, was within the Chicago city limits, but it was (1) part of a secret US government project (2) during wartime and (3) in 1942. You probably couldn’t get away with that sort of thing nowadays.

Today, we’ve got a slew of federal agencies that will want a piece of this pie. The Department of Energy‘s Office of Nuclear Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission are the main players on the civilian side of things—there will be state agencies too—but the Pentagon might also want in, particularly after Pavel published his paper. Want to do fusion research? Be prepared to interface with at least half a dozen agencies. And that’s not even touching the zoning issues. “Experimental fusion reactor facility” probably doesn’t count as a “permitted use” or even a “conditional use.”

And even if they were to permit it, they wouldn’t approve it there. Livermore, a research facility that does fusion research among other things, is on the outskirts of Livermore, California, itself not exactly a bustling metropolis. The US ITER facility is at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, i.e., the boonies. The main ITER reactor is in rural France. None of these are located under major cities. That’s just not how we do things.

The point here isn’t that Wayne Enterprises couldn’t possibly have gotten approval for that. It’s possible that they could have. The NRC in particular is frequently accused of regulatory capture, i.e., the phenomenon when a regulatory agency seems to serve the interests of the industry it’s regulating more than acting as some kind of watchdog. Similar accusations are made of pretty much all the federal agencies. So it’s plausible that a player as big as Wayne Enterprises could get this sort of thing approved. But it couldn’t get it approved without anyone knowing about it. Experimental fusion research? Sure. Secret experimental fusion research? No. The proceedings of regulatory agencies are generally, by statute, a matter of public record. So as soon as Wayne Enterprises starts to get the approval for this sort of thing, everyone is going to know about it. And not just in general terms either. Part of the regulatory approval is going to involve site approval, and you can bet that’s going to be a matter of public record.

II. Hiding Massive Corporate Expenditures

But now we get into another problem. “If you funnel your entire R&D budget into a fusion project you mothball, your company is unlikely to thrive,” says Fox to Wayne at one point. This is true. What’s also true is that if you do that, the odds of no one knowing where the money was going is vanishingly small. We’re not just talking about a paper trail here. Miranda Tate, a member of Wayne Enterprises’ board, was also involved in the clean energy project in question. There’s implication that it was actually her project to start with, and that Wayne Enterprises either acquired or invested in it. The idea that she would have no idea about the state of the project given her corporate position is frankly unbelievable. We’re talking about the expenditure of hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars. That wasn’t all on materials. It was on engineers’ and scientists’ salaries too. You can’t employ hundreds or thousands of people to do much of anything in corporate America without the board of directors knowing about it, or even some details leaking to the public (just ask Apple). Indeed, many corporate directors have significant authority to requisition corporate records. It’s part of their job: they have a duty to the shareholders to know what’s going on in their companies. So the proposition that Wayne Enterprises can come up with an all-but-functional reactor and Tate wouldn’t even know where it is just doesn’t fly.

The worst of it is that the movie knows this. Even in The Dark Knight, we saw that a halfway-decent audit would lead to the discovery of the Batman project. But most of that stuff doesn’t involve the most highly regulated industry in the country. If Wayne Enterprises can’t keep Batman a secret for even a few months, how is it supposed to keep something this big a secret for what must have been several years?

III. Conclusion

We’ll let others deal with the physics of the thing. The way the reactor is portrayed simply doesn’t fly with the way the law works, even in terms of the existing movies. There’s no way Wayne Enterprises could keep something like this secret. Getting approval would mean necessarily going public. But even if they just tried to build it in secret, the idea that a member of the board of directors who actively wants to know about the project wouldn’t be able to figure out where the money was going is completely implausible.

50 responses to “The Dark Knight Rises III: Nuclear Shenanigans

  1. How is this situation different from the Stark Arc Reactor which was built in downtown LA? Although it’s stated to NOT be nuclear, from the elements stated to be used to build it (palladium) it may well be a form of cold fusion.

    • Well, one of the main differences which makes the situation in Iron Man more plausible is that Stark was doing everything publicly. Could Wayne Enterprises have gotten permission to build its facility under Gotham? It’d have been hard, especially given that it explicitly was a nuclear reactor of some sort, but it’s at least theoretically possible. But I don’t think it’s possible for them to have been able to do this secretly. Stark just went ahead and built the thing in public view. The fact that the Arc reactor doesn’t seem to have any danger of a catastrophic failure likely made that easier, but not bothering with the secrecy is what really makes the difference.

    • As I recall wasnt the ark reactor public knowledge?
      A bit of a difference from super secret bat-reactors ^^;

    • Also: the thing with fusion reactors generally is that they don’t necessarily involve radioactive fuel. Most fusion is done using hydrogen or deuterium, neither of which is radioactive. “Cold fusion” is still theoretically–if that–but it doesn’t involve radioactive materials either.

      Palladium is a relatively inert member of the platinum family, so getting ahold of large quantities of it is expensive, but not otherwise difficult. It, along with platinum, are the main catalyst metals in catalytic converters. You probably own some without knowing it.

      • @Ryan Davidson A large amount of the fusion research involves things like tritium, an isotope of hydrogen which is radioactive, along with deutrium.

        Even if you managed with a totally non-radioactive fuel, the fusion reactions also tend to release a variety of different types of radiation such as neutron radiation, just going by a quick look at the wiki article.

    • “Although it’s stated to NOT be nuclear, from the elements stated to be used to build it (palladium) it may well be a form of cold fusion.”

      Well, sure, but the problem with having a cold fusion reaction taking place in your chest is that it is going to give off radiation. That’s not going to be healthy. Now mind you this problem was addressed in Iron Man 2 but then Tony Stark “discovered” a “new element” that seemed to solve the problem. I turn my mind off when I watch Iron Man movies: I have to.

      • Cold fusion processes (if they exist) do not necessary produce radioactive by-products. There are papers that posit direct conversion of Deuterium to Helium where the only possible by-product is beta particles which are easily shielded with tin foil.

        Also, my understanding of Stark’s problem was that he was literally being slowly poisoned by the Palladium in the mini-Arc reaction and the the new element was a less chemically reactive substitute and fixed that problem.

    • The thing with the Arc reactor, too, is wasn’t it Howard Stark’s creation quite a few years back? Probably the famous Howard Stark’s fancy cheap power generator was something a city would’ve *wanted* at the time, especially since it likely predates Chernobyl and more extreme fears over nuclear power.

      It’s public, which is important, but it also hails from an era where nuclear power (even if it’s not actually nuclear) wasn’t quite so horrifying as TMI and Chernobyl have rendered.

    • The Arc reactor was supposedly safe. When it did fail, it took out the building. That’s a different kettle of fish from something that nukes a city.

  2. Yeah, the arc reactor is likely to be much more legally easy than the equivalent in fission or fusion. Someone like Stark probably bought out a Palladium refinery company just to ensure a reliable supply of the stuff, and given that he ran a demonstration model in his corporate headquarters, the reactor is amazingly safe.

    The real kicker is the lack of public / government knowledge about this reactor. People protest against new nuclear facilities all the time, and I’m not seeing how they wouldn’t find out and create a massive outcry over a reactor that would actually explode like an atomic bomb. I would rather live next to a Chernobyl-style RBMK in a tsunami zone staffed with the workers from Three Mile Island than deal with that, and I probably one of the most pro-nuclear people you will meet.

    • A fusion reactor can explode like an atomic bomb? Seriously?

      No actual fusion reactor could do so – there’s no compression, in fact they operate in a near vacuum. Pump in too much fuel, and it cools the reaction mass and the reactor shuts down. Let air into the chamber and it cools the reaction mass and the reactor shuts down. Shut off the magnets, the reaction mass expands to fill chamber, cools down, and shuts down. Fiddle with magnets, the fields go unstable, the plasma leaks out, cools down… Well, you get the picture.

      Fission reactors are tamed fission bombs – but fusion reactors are not tamed fusion weapons. In fact, historically, the problem has been to get them hot, keep them hot, and then to get them to ignite in the first place. The (fairly small) tanks of cryogenic fusion fuel and the high energy power supplies are far more of a threat than the reactor itself, and those only if you’re within a dozen yards or so of them.

      • I was talking about the specific reactor in the movie, which clearly was capable of such an explosion.

        A fusion reaction is as much a tamed hydrogen bomb as a fission reaction is a tamed a-bomb – that is, not at all. Depending on the design, the reactants may be similar to an H-bomb, but the actual design of a tokamak or inertial confinement reactor makes an atomic detonation impossible.

        The reactor in the movie is something entirely different, and vastly more dangerous.

      • I think what makes the movie plausible is the public’s confusion over what happened in Chernobyl: that was not a nuclear explosion; there were actually two explosions, the first being a steam explosion due to overheated water (that was supposed to keep the reactor cool) and the second explosion releasing hot radioactive material into the air and contaminating surrounding areas. It did not go off like a fission bomb.

        I think we have to allow for the fact that Fox is an engineer and not a nuclear physicist and Wayne and Tate are laymen. There’s no way that this was a “fusion” reactor. There’s a list here of thorium fueled reactors all over the world: My guess is that none of them are near major cities. I don’t know if there are any secret thorium reactors being built by any major industrial enterprises… but then I wouldn’t, would I?

  3. I’m always amused by the facilities that all of this “secret” stuff is in, to include the Batcave. Building all of the things you see takes a large number of trades, and can’t be done by a non-professional safely (and it’ll look unprofessional, too). I wonder where they find the contractors to build things like the reactor or the Batcave. How would you write that NDA?

    • You wouldn’t, but theoretically you could work it so that you use an agent for an unknown principal hire people to do construction on say, the Batcave, under the conditions that they’re taken to that place without their knowledge (Blindfolded or the like).

      Incidentally, that seems to be a similar thing to what happens in the Japanese Anime The Big O, which has large large batman influences (in this case, the city workmen come into the cave to reload and repair the protagonist’s giant mecha).

      • It’s going to be hard to do a geotechnical survey without pulling maps of the place. Many of Batman’s toys would put immense loads on the foundations supporting them, and it’s pretty hard to do the design work “site” unseen.

    • Presumably they’d find them the same place(s) that the goverment finds them to build classified facilities. or that ordinary companies find them to build proprietary facilities or equipment.

      • Bechtel is certainly capable of building the kinds of things that we see, but they’re going to need paperwork like the OP was detailing. Even the military needs to procure permits from the state deparment of environmental quality before they start earthwork on a military installation. The scale of the construction really couldn’t be hidden. The government can use NDAs, classification, and national loyalty to have people keep quiet about what they work on, and private firms can use NDAs and money. However, if you’re trying to hide something patently illegal (like Batman was believed to be and the reactor is) it’s going to be hard to get people to keep quiet once courts stop enforcing the NDA.

  4. It’s a bit awkward, yes, but I’ve always felt that Bruce Wayne personally built the Batcave, possibly expanding it later once he got help (Alfred, Robin, even Superman). In most depictions, the cave is just that, a cave, with some platforms built into it. He’d have to build some ramps, bridges, or stairs, plus a Batmobile entrance, but I’ve never thought it beyond a technological genius like Bruce’s abilities.

    Running power, setting up computers, it all seems reasonably within Batman’s resources (maybe not an elevator, a hangar or a plane launcher, though). He’d have to rent some equipment and probably do some blasting, but I don’t think it would be that tough to conceal. It’s when you start getting to the really big stuff that it gets awkward (but if you assume he’s pals with Superman or Green Lantern, started small, and built out when he had super-help, it’s more plausible).

    Now his old “penthouse” Batcave is another matter completely. No way that gets inserted into a structure with no one noticing.

    • I dunno. “Running power” to the kind of things that we see in the Batcave is the something that you probably want a professional to do. Besides, keeping lights, computers, HVAC, and all the elevators and vehicle service facilities we see running will take a large amount of power, and the utility company is going to want to know who signed off on the work before they upgrade the service. They may not have to know what exactly is at Wayne Manor, but they’ll know that something other than just a residence is there.

      • James Pollock

        I don’t know… Wayne Manor’s a BIG place, so perhaps enough power to light the batcave and run the batcomputer wouldn’t be missed. I doubt there’s actually HVAC (have you ever been in a cave? They naturally stay amazingly steady in terms of temperatore no matter what the weather is above ground. The batcave isn’t deep enough underground to need much in the way of ventilation.) An elevator doesn’t actually use that much power, and there’s what, maybe a half-dozen trips in and out a day?

        Of course, if he really wants to keep the power company from poking around, he could be running the batcave off generators. When the guy delivering the monthly tanker truck of gas gets curious, Bruce can point to his garage and mention that a Ferrarri isn’t very fuel-efficient.

      • There’s a subtrade of contractors and architects who cater to the ultra-wealthy. It wouldn’t be hard at all for someone like Bruce Wayne to come up with a pretext for most of the generic stuff.

        “What’s all this power and computer equipment for?”

        “I have personal hedge fund that takes advantage of market fluctuations and the computers run the financial trading platform”.

        “Why in your house?”

        “Security. Think of it as a home office.”

        “Why underground?”

        “Google Earth. I’d like not for every snooper to know exactly how nice a target my facilities are. Industrial sabotage can ruin your whole trading position.”

        Nobody’s going to think twice about something like that, given some of the crazy stuff the super-rich get into.

      • I agree that he could have come up with an excuse to get a contractor down there to do the work, but that contractor is still going to need the permits, and they’re going to know the place exists. Most media treats the Batcave as a place where only Bruce Wayne, Alfred, and other assorted “Bat-Family” have been. The Nolan movies don’t explicitly say this, but I get the sense that they’re this way, too.

        This is kind of wandering off the legal nitpicking, and into the engineering nitpicking, but it’s really difficult for one or two people to do the kind of construction we see in the Batcave. The reactor facility is definitely something built by a contractor. I’m really just approaching the OP’s point from another direction, which is that a lot of people will actually know about all this stuff and it’s location, not just Bruce Wayne, Alfred, and Lucius Fox.

      • James Pollock

        If stately Wayne manor is outside of city limits, he probably doesn’t need any permits to build in the Batcave. It’s not built for business purposes or for human habitation, so it’s roughly equivalent to building a treehouse.
        Most likely, if a permit IS required, Alfred filed applications for permits, under the guise of subsidence prevention.

      • Seth Finkelstein

        There may be somewhere in the entire world an architect, civil-engineer, and construction company, which knows that Wayne Manor has a big underground parking garage, but they may not even be based in the United States. And Wayne can’t be the only person in the Gothham area who ever did some home remodeling, so permits wouldn’t stand out (and what could you make “get lost” years later with a little money spread around?). The tradespeople won’t think anything of it – another rich-guy job, same as an in-house swimming pool or basement playground. Michael Jackson probably built weirder stuff on his estate. In-universe, it won’t set off suspicions, especially if nobody outside the Bat-family even knows if the Batcave is a real cave or just a joking way to refer to Batman’s headquarters.

      • I don’t doubt that Michael Jackson had some weird stuff. I doubt that the state and local government didn’t know about it, or have one of their inspectors sign off on the work. In a modern, effective state large construction projects pretty much don’t happen without some level of knowledge and involvement of the government. It’s possible to have the construction done and signed off on, and further non-structural work (installation of computers, etc.) done without them knowing exactly what’s going on (since that stuff doesn’t go in until after approval), but the construction equipment, material delivery, and tradesmen moving in and out will create a lot of traffic that will be noticed, especially if the neighbors start getting NIMBY and call someone.

        BTW, I didn’t even touch on the environmental permitting, which is a phenomenal pain in the ass, and a bunch of construction equipment moving around is going to attract the DEQ. I don’t know about Gotham law regarding caves, but if there’s some endangered bat that lives in caves in the area, you aren’t doing anything.

        …Those f***ing gray bats in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri still make me twitch when I think about them.

    • Getting Superman to help him put his stuff together is very clever and explains a lot, potentially. Of course it doesn’t work so well for the Nolan films.

  5. I hate to keep bashing TDKR, but just in terms of plot I it seems like in light of the nuclear meltdown in Japan last year, to have the heroes build any kind of nuclear reactor under the city seems like a gross mistake. I’m sure the script was already in place by that point, but still.

    As to the Batcave, I had the impression from “Batman Begins” that the cave, the elevator, and maybe some of the pathways and stuff were left over from when it was used in the underground railroad. So maybe it was just a matter of running electric lines and putting in some storage containers.

    • There are so many world events that if they tried to avoid every single one they’d be unable to actually make a movie. Ebola in Uganda, shrine burnings in Timbuktu and massive power outages in India just to name a few.

  6. Yeah, but in outbreak at least the guys fooling around with super-viruses are cast as bad guys.

  7. James Pollock

    Rocky Flats is not that far from a major city*, and the Air Force taught me most of what I know about nuclear weapons at Lowry AFB, which was even closer to that SAME major city. (Now, I’m not claiming that Wayne Enterprises has anything like the pull that the USAF gets, but Rocky Flats was operated by a private contractor, and there’s some evidence that the general air of secrecy around the plant included covering up some pretty severe risks to people’s health and safety.

    *They have teams in MLB, NBA, and NFL. (L.A. gets grandfathered in because the payroll at USC is higher than some pro teams.)

    • Rocky Flats (and Hanford, and Oak Ridge, and whole bunch of other places you’ve probably never heard of) are different – because they’re GOCO (Goverment Owned, Contractor Operated).

    • I’m not familiar with the history of Denver, but was Rocky Flats all that close when it was built? A lot of defense facilities were out in the sticks when they were first founded, then had cities grow up to them–sometimes the facility itself was the catalyst for economic development.

      • James Pollock

        Lowry AFB was pretty much inside the city limits in the mid 80’s. By then, they’d suspended all flight operations and turned the runways into really straight, oddly wide streets. Rocky Flats is outside the city, but not the way that, say, the Manhattan Engineering District was outside of NYC.

      • Well, the Manhattan Engineer District was more of a name of a headquarters as opposed to an actual district or place, so that’s not really the same thing. I acknowledge that Rocky Flats is probably closer to an urban area than we’d probably feel safe with today. What I’m wondering is if Rocky Flats was built way out in the sticks and had the urban area get closer, or if it was built that close to begin with.

  8. Minor extension of the Rocky Flats/Oak Ridge/etc. – we operate and dock nuclear subs and aircraft carriers at major port cities all the time, and we have things like the Navy’s nuclear power schools. There are A LOT of nuclear power plants at major metropolitan areas, and while it helps regulation that they’re government owned… that’s about it. Look at the Hartford and the La Jolla for starters – nuclear powered subs which RAN INTO other ships, doing millions of dollars worth of damage. The actual power plant crews may be good, but there are a lot of points of failure when they’re mobile, including the operators of other ships.

    Unfortunately, nothing regarding government ownership was addressed, so… we’re still left with another massive whole in the story.

    • Ryan Davidson

      Nuclear-powered naval vessels are one thing, but I’m not aware of a single nuclear power plant located in a major city. Near, sure, but never in, let alone below. Part of the reason is the nuclear issue, but part of it’s just that power plants of every sort are big, and most of the time the real estate downtown is too valuable to use for something which can just as easily be located on the outskirts of town. Here’s a list of active nuclear power plants. The closest one I see is two miles from town. Most are more than ten.

      Further, the reactors in naval vessels are, all things consider, pretty small. The USS Nimitz carries two A4W engines each rated at 104MW. Three Mile Island produces over 800MW. The Watts Bar plant in Tennessee produces over 1100MW. The Calvert Cliffs plant has two reactors, each of which produces more than 850MW. They’re really big. And to serve as a meaningful contributor to the power grid, they’d have to be. The US uses over 1100GWh of power, annually.

      But that’s not really the point. The military is going to be able to move reactors around because it’s the military. But not even the military is going to conduct nuclear experiments in the middle of a major metropolitan area. Not anymore.

      • Chakat Firepaw

        Pickering Nuclear Power Station is within the urban/suburban portion of the Greater Toronto Area, (specifically it’s in Pickering, just east of Toronto itself).

      • Ryan Davidson

        Right, but that’s 40-odd kilometers from downtown Toronto. It isn’t under the CN Tower. That’s what we’re talking about here.

      • James Pollock

        Fission-based nuclear power plants (the only kind we have, at present) are big partly because they’re inefficient (most of the energy available is wasted) but also because of the level of shielding and safety systems needed to contain the radioactivity. If you had a power-generation process that didn’t use radioactive materials as fuel, release ionizing radiation while in operation, and produce radioactive materials as waste, they wouldn’t need to be so big, and it would be more effective to have more of them, and locate them closer to where the energy is needed. Such energy plants would be “greener” in that more of the power generated would be usable, and less would be lost to transmission losses.

        PS Reed College, located within the bounds of Portland, OR, has a nuclear reactor. I think you’ll find that a lot of schools do, even if they’re located inside metropolitan areas.

      • Ryan Davidson

        Except that’s not actually true. Not entirely. See, the whole point of electrical generators is creating an enormous amount of heat. The actual nuclear reactor part of a nuclear power plant isn’t all that much bigger than the heat-generating part of a coal-fired power plant. What takes up the majority of the space in either case is the steam turbines and cooling towers, which coal plants have just like nuclear plants do. Those cooling towers aren’t to keep the reactor cool, they’re to cool down steam to water so it can be re-converted back into steam.

        Nuclear plants, even fusion plants, aren’t just black boxes that you plug a power cord into. They’re just complicated ways of converting one form of energy to another, in this case heat to kinetic to electrical. Any fusion plant would operate on essentially the same principle as any other electrical plant: use heat to create steam to spin turbines.

        All of that takes up an enormous amount of space. And if Wayne Enterprises has come up with a way of generating electrical energy without the use of steam turbines, then that’s the real breakthrough, not anything to do with fusion.

      • James Pollock

        “See, the whole point of electrical generators is creating an enormous amount of heat.”

        Um, no, it isn’t. The whole point of electrical generators is creating a steady supply of electricity. There are quite a few techniques for doing that which do not require the production of any heat, except as a waste product. In fact, pretty much ALL of the “green” energy solutions leave the boiling water out… hydroelectric, wind, tidal barrage, solar. The only “green” energy source that I can think of off the top of my head that uses boiling water is geothermal.

      • James Pollock

        And one more thing… you can make electricity chemically, which is available in very small packages indeed, ideal for putting a small source of electricity very close the where the electricity is needed. And the production of chemical-based electricity is even economically viable, and that statement is market tested.

  9. Actually, not all (hypothetical) fusion reactors are steam plants. A Polywell or similar design running the Proton-Boron 11 fuel cycle will (hypothetically, if anyone gets one to work) emit most of its energy in the form of high-energy alpha particles. By decelerating the alphas through a series of electrical grids the energy can be converted directly into electricity without requiring a steam turbine, or any moving parts at all. Not saying that’s specifically what Wayne Enterprises was doing, but there are ways to generate electricity from certain fusion reactions without using steam.

  10. Well there’s the NR-1, with it’s very small reactor. Not a lot of power, but that’s about the smallest you can make a fission reactor.

    The most recent designs for new nuclear reactors include several types of gas-cooled, gas turbine reactors. No need for steam there – the coolant turns the turbine with minimal need for cooling water. The current smallest designs would probably be able to fit in a locomotive, but rather low power for that size.

    Lastly, the reactors at universities are research reactors. They don’t generate power, and they are usually very small. They make isotopes and do neutron experiments there.

  11. Does the mobility/portability of the reactor factor into things? What if it was developed at another site, and simply stored under the river? It seems like there could have been some public knowledge of it in development, but once Bruce decided to mothball it, he had it spirited away to the storage location in the film.

    • Let’s say, hypothetically, Bruce Wayne’s reactor was in another loation outside of the city and that he had permission to build the reactor. Then, hypothetically, the reactor went on line but the amount of electricity produced did not exced the amount of electricity use to run the plant, ie it didn’t work the way it was intended. Then the program was mothballed. However, the reactor core was now full of waste material that could be used to make a bomb. Bruce Wayne secretly moved the core to a site under Wayne Enterprises. Now we are back to square one because I doubt if Bruce Wayne got permission to do that.

  12. I believe a plot point in the movie was actually that the type of “green” reactor Bruce was building was widely believed to NOT be capable of turning into a nuclear bomb. Most people knew Bruce had funded the project and then shucked it at the 11th hour, and as far as anyone knew he hadn’t built it (which, granted, is still a logistical improbability). However, the argument was made that he shouldn’t have, because the only person who was publicly arguing that the reactor could be modified to become a nuclear bomb was a mad Russian scientist who was currently believed to be dead, and whose work was dismissed.

    Basically- yes, the reactor COULD be turned into a bomb, and Bruce, the League of Shadows and Dr Pavel knew it (Lucius seemed to be skeptical, but decided not to argue with Batman)-, but I think the point was that even if it was public, it would not have been that controversial because few people believed that it was dangerous.

  13. What bothers me is that the weapon implications of fusion are treated as something new and unanticipated. “Weaponized fusion reactions”? Er, I thought those were called “hydrogen bombs”.

  14. Don’t be to sure he wouldn’t be able to get a fusion reactor built for research purposes in Gotham. MIT has an operating research nuclear reactor in the middle of Cambridge, MA as does the University of Missouri in Columbia.

    True these are universities and not private companies and they have been there for a long time, but just because its a major urban center doesn’t mean it couldn’t be placed there.

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