France's Rapsodie, Phenix and Superphenix breeder reactors and the UK's Dounreay Fast Reactor (DFR) and Prototype Fast Reactor (PFR) all suffered significant sodium leaks, some of which resulted in serious fires.
All reactors produce plutonium in their fuel but breeder reactors require plutonium recycle, the separation of plutonium from the ferociously radioactive fission products in the spent fuel.
Mycle Schneider, Paris, international consultant on energy and nuclear policy, said: "France built with Superphenix, the only commercial-size plutonium fueled breeder reactor in nuclear history.
The concept became so compelling that the federal government would vigorously pursue it for the next forty years, with the ultimate goal of having the nation's electricity generated largely by breeder reactors.
Overview: The Rise and Fall of the Breeder Reactor.
One can only wonder if the breeder reactor, with its more inherent dangers, would ever have gained acceptance or if a typical American utility would ever have wanted to operate one.
Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Liquid Metal Fast Breeder Reactor.
The major premise for the federal government's rapid development of the breeder reactor was that supplies of U-235 would be greatly diminished, a concern made more urgent by the belief that the bulk of the nation's electrical needs should and could be supplied by nuclear power.
The plant went online in 1957 and generated power until 1973, when it closed down for the installation of a light-water breeder reactor.
Carter's opposition to the breeder reactor was somewhat ironic because he had served as a young officer in the nuclear navy.
The report also stated that the ultimate safety of a breeder reactor could be proven only by operating one.
By 1948, Congress had authorized funds for the construction of an experimental breeder reactor (EBR-I) to be operated by the AEC in Idaho.