By Jarret Adams
As the new Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future begins its work this week, it is faced with an interesting situation. Companies have filed applications to build 26 new reactors in the United States and many more are under consideration. Meanwhile, the Department of Energy filed to pull its application earlier this month for the Yucca Mountain repository for used nuclear fuel.
With Yucca Mountain “off the table,” many wonder what America’s long-term strategy for managing used fuel will be. Since this decision will no doubt take time to address, it is good that the commission has begun its work now as this piece in the Christian Science Monitor points out.
While we cannot predict what the Commission will decide, we are familiar with the back end of the nuclear fuel cycle. At AREVA, providing solutions for managing used fuel and nuclear waste is a key part of what we do in the United States and internationally.
AREVA manufactures transportation and storage containers for used nuclear fuel. In fact, AREVA subsidiary Transnuclear Inc. is the leading supplier of dry storage systems in the United States.
We recycle used fuel and manufacture mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel for customers around the globe. Earlier this month, we announced the second Japanese nuclear plant to produce electricity using MOX fuel supplied by AREVA. Today, some 38 reactors at 11 different utilities in Western Europe and Japan use MOX fuel from AREVA.
We are involved in the clean up of sites, such as the DOE’s Hanford and Savannah River, which were the focus of defense activities.
AREVA also supports U.S. nonproliferation efforts through its partnership with The Shaw Group to construct the MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility at Savannah River for the DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration. This facility will convert former weapons material into MOX fuel for U.S. electric utilities. Construction of this facility, which employs some 1,800 workers today, is proceeding well.