“AREVA supports an integrated approach that ensures options including recycling, interim storage, and disposal,” Executive V.P. Dr. Alan Hanson today told the members of a Blue Ribbon Commission subcommittee. “Commercial recycling of used nuclear fuel has a long, successful, safe and secure history. AREVA has successfully and profitably operated and supported commercial recycling facilities for more than four decades.”
Hanson laid out the reasons why recycling is a sold option as part of an integrated used fuel management system in the United States. Today the U.S. is focused on a once-through strategy for managing used fuel, meaning that nuclear fuel is used once and then sent for disposal. However, most of the energy still remains after one cycle, and this material can be recycled.
The Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future was formed “to conduct a comprehensive review of policies for managing the back end of the nuclear fuel cycle and to provide recommendations for developing a safe, long-term solution to managing the Nation’s used nuclear fuel and nuclear waste.” The Aug. 30 meeting focused on hearing perspectives from the industry.
During his presentation, Hanson described the advantages recycling offers:
AREVA’s experience demonstrates that deployment of proven state-of-the-art recycling technology can simplify waste management, boost public acceptance of nuclear energy, and recover valuable energy resources – while retaining sufficient flexibility to incorporate longer-term technology developments such as Generation IV reactors.
More than 60,000 metric tons of used nuclear fuel is stored at nuclear plant sites around the U.S. Hanson explained that this used fuel is a valuable domestic energy resource, because if recycled it could provide enough fuel to power all U.S. reactors for six years. In addition, recycling offers a cost-effective solution based on real-world commercial experience, and reinforces American security and nonproliferation objectives.
Hanson noted some of the major benefits of this technology, including the ability to reuse material in used fuel, which enhances the security of the fuel supply and conserves natural resources. Recycling also reduces by 75% the volume of high-level waste that must be sent to a repository and reduces the toxicity of this waste by a factor of 90%.
Hanson recommended to the panel that “now is the time to move forward decisively and to restore public credibility in used fuel management.” Credibility is an important element to consider as we evaluate how we deal with nuclear waste. And the development of a long-term strategy in the U.S. would go a long way in building this credibility. Hanson concluded:
A scalable used fuel recycling facility should be built in the U.S. in the near future in order to restore confidence in America’s ability to solve problems and to meet our obligations to our children and grandchildren. America was the first to develop this technology, and it is time for America to reclaim global leadership.
Click here to read the full testimony.
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