Several of our fellow nuclear bloggers have already linked to William Tucker’s excellent editorial from the Wall Street Journal, “There Is No Such Thing as Nuclear Waste.” We thought we’d add our voice to the resounding applause for this excellent piece, which is well-written and well-argued. AREVA is proud to be leading the way in recycling and reprocessing used nuclear fuel – which is exactly what Tucker argues should be part of our long-term plans as we look to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, combat climate change, and promote green energy.
Some highlights from the article:
So is [defunding Yucca Mountain] really the death knell for nuclear power? Not at all. The repository at Yucca Mountain was only made necessary by our failure to understand a fundamental fact about nuclear power: There is no such thing as nuclear waste. . . .
So is this material “waste”? Absolutely not. Ninety-five percent of a spent fuel rod is plain old U-238, the nonfissionable variety that exists in granite tabletops, stone buildings and the coal burned in coal plants to generate electricity. Uranium-238 is 1% of the earth’s crust. It could be put right back in the ground where it came from.
Of the remaining 5% of a rod, one-fifth is fissionable U-235 — which can be recycled as fuel. Another one-fifth is plutonium, also recyclable as fuel. Much of the remaining three-fifths has important uses as medical and industrial isotopes. Forty percent of all medical procedures in this country now involve some form of radioactive isotope, and nuclear medicine is a $4 billion business. Unfortunately, we must import all our tracer material from Canada, because all of our isotopes have been headed for Yucca Mountain. . . .
So shed no tears for Yucca Mountain. Instead of ending the nuclear revival, it gives us the chance to correct a historical mistake and follow France’s lead in developing complete reprocessing for nuclear material.
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