By Jarret Adams
An editorial in today’s Washington Post urges the government, “Don’t let politics drive a nuclear-waste decision,” a wise bit of advice given the current state of America’s nuclear waste management strategy. It points out the difficulty faced by the Blue Ribbon Commission in making a recommendation on the nation’s nuclear waste management policies when its charter makes it difficult for this panel to do so.
So far, the Obama administration has been vocal about its commitment to alternative energies. In January, it created a commission to rethink the nation’s nuclear policy. But this broad reevaluation rings hollow when it is accompanied by taking off the table the one storage site into which the government has poured $9 billion and more than 20 years of research and planning – without even seeing whether it meets the NRC’s licensing standards.
Whether the government decides to revive the Yucca Mountain project is not the main issue. We will need a repository regardless of the waste management strategy we employ.
However, the editorial falters when it claims that recycling will not reduce the amount used fuel that needs to be stored. In fact, recycling using current technology would divide by at least four the volume of waste that must go to repository. And this waste will be 10 times less toxic than used fuel that has not been recycled. (The Post was correct on this point.)
For more information on the potential for recycling as part of America’s strategy for managing used nuclear fuel, click here.