The One-Two Solution for Used Nuclear Fuel | AREVA North America: Next Energy Blog


In yesterday’s Charlotte Business Journal article, “Duke Energy CEO calls for reprocessing nuke fuel,” Jim Rogers acknowledges the need for interim used fuel storage during a South Carolina regulators hearing, but he also emphasizes that,

“… storage is not the ultimate solution. Reprocessing nuclear fuel for additional use in nuclear plants is the much more sustainable option …

“We believe, ultimately, we should recycle fuel.”

As Mr. Rogers indicates, used fuel is a valuable, cost-efficient energy resource that should not be discarded and wasted.

A unique aspect of used nuclear fuel is that 96% of its energy can be recycled and used again. In addition, during the recycling process, the volume of high-level waste is reduced by 75%, leaving much less for permanent disposal.

The United States is currently storing more than 60,000 metric tons of used nuclear fuel. If recycled, this latent energy resource could power all 104 U.S. reactors for nearly seven years. It’s a resource we should use.

AREVA has 40 years of experience successfully and safely recycling used fuel in other countries; we know it can be done here, too. For details on implementing this idea in the U.S., read the used fuel recycling white paper we published last week.

But recycling is the second part of the solution.

Right now, we must continue placing in safe storage the 2,000 metric tons of used nuclear fuel annually generated by U.S. reactors. We’re also working on this solution.

More than 50% of U.S. used nuclear fuel is maintained in storage systems designed by AREVA’s subsidiary, Transnuclear Inc. With more than 40 years experience in providing used fuel storage systems in the U.S., we’re meeting the country’s interim storage need with a secure, stable, robust solution.

The one-two combination of interim storage and long-term used fuel recycling is a safe, effective approach requiring the progression from one to the other.

Duke Energy has the right perspective: Breaking the nuclear fuel cycle at storage is not a long-term solution.

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