Some really solid writing and thinking here, from William H. Miller, professor with the University of Missouri’s Nuclear Science and Engineering Institute.
He makes the valid point that much of what we term “nuclear waste” really isn’t or need not be waste:
Often mistaken for nuclear waste, used fuel contains large amounts of valuable plutonium and uranium that can be extracted and then chemically reprocessed into a so-called mixed-oxide, or MOX, fuel that can be used in a nuclear plant to produce more electricity. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter ended reprocessing in the United States, citing proliferation risks and hoping other countries such as France and Great Britain would do likewise. They didn’t.
They have continued to reprocess used fuel — in the case of France, using recycling as part of its nuclear program to obtain 80 percent of its electricity and to sell surplus power to neighboring countries. Reprocessing has great potential value for the United States. Using it along with breeder reactors would recover 90 percent of the original energy that remains in the fuel after one use in a reactor.
He also points out how Congress has been “absurd” in their policies on used nuclear fuel, and asks some great questions:
How ironic that Congress has approved the processing of weapons plutonium into MOX fuel for commercial electricity production but has yet to do the same for reprocessing used fuel stored at nuclear power plants. This contradictory policy is absurd …
Given the strong political support in South Carolina for nuclear power, why not build a plant there to demonstrate the technology for reprocessing used fuel? And why not tap into the Nuclear Waste Fund for that very purpose?
Read the entire article here.