By Jarret Adams
In an effort to green up the debate on recycling nuclear fuel, several anti-nuclear activists have decided recycle some old misinformation about the topic. In fact, recycling nuclear fuel has some distinct advantages to the once-through approach proposed in the U.S. and deserves consideration as a solid option for our country.
As AREVA Executive V.P. Alan Hanson wrote in an op-ed last year, “Recycling nuclear fuel is a proven solution that makes waste management easier, conserves natural resources, is cost competitive and reduces proliferation concerns.”
So let’s hit a few of the largest myths being spread about recycling:
Myth: The volume of waste to be disposed in a deep geological repository is increased by recycling.
Reality: False. The volume of high-level waste for disposal would decrease by a factor of at least four. The toxicity of this waste would decrease by a factor of 10.
Myth: Recycling nuclear fuel is uneconomical.
Reality: Management of used nuclear fuel – whether you recycle or not – represents only 1 – 2% of the retail price of electricity generated by nuclear energy. In addition , recycling offers other benefits in much the same way as recycling paper or glass costs provide other benefits.
Myth: The use of recycling would eliminate the need for a repository.
Reality: True. AREVA does not claim that recycling would eliminate the need for a repository. One would be required regardless of the used fuel management approach. But with recycling, the U.S. would avoid having to build more than one, perhaps forever.
Myth: Recycling has not been made commercial after decades of research and development.
Reality: AREVA has decades of experience recycling nuclear fuel safely, efficiently and economically for customers around the globe. Today, MOX fuel manufactured by AREVA is in use in 38 reactors in Europe and Japan. AREVA’s Back End business group, which includes recycling, last year posted revenue of about $2.2 billion.
Click here to take a virtual tour of AREVA recycling facility.
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