Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Report: Energy Considering Recycling Fuel from Closed Reactors

From Energy Daily (Subscription Only):

In next year's budget request, the Energy Department is planning to ask Congress for authority to take title to spent nuclear fuel stockpiled at closed U.S. nuclear plants and to reprocess it, most likely in France, sources tell The Energy Daily.

DOE officials in recent years have resisted congressional pressure to move spent fuel stockpiled at U.S. reactors to regional storage facilities, saying the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA) bars them from taking title to the fuel until the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada is granted a Nuclear Regulatory Commission license.

Now, sources say, the department is planning to ask Congress to amend the NWPA to remove that limitation as part of its fiscal 2009 budget request to Congress, which DOE is in the early stages of preparing.

However, DOE's goal is apparently to transport it for reprocessing, most likely at La Hague in France, not to move the spent fuel to regional storage facilities in the United States as some lawmakers have requested. It is unclear whether DOE intends to ask for authority to take title only to fuel from closed plants, or to spent fuel stockpiled at operating U.S. reactors as well.

A DOE spokeswoman Tuesday would neither confirm nor deny that DOE was considering the recycling plan, but noted DOE was pursuing recycling options through its Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) initiative.

4 comments:

Joffan said...

The nuclear industry needs to put together and propose a plan to take spent fuel handling out of the operational hands of the government. There is $20 billion sitting in the fund to deal with commerical spent fuel. The use that money could be put to in building an actinide burner and reprocessing facilities along with medium-term localized storage is just incredible.

Yucca is not interesting. Yucca is making the whole damned process too hard. Shelve it, come back to the idea later when needed. Take away the "waste" stumbling block that gets thrown again and again in front of nuclear power projects.

Matthew66 said...

Theoretically, the used fuel levy is set aside in a trust fund invested in US Treasuries and earning interest, and is to be used solely for dealing with used fuel. In reality however, the levy is a tax, the money goes into treasury coffers, must be appropriated by Congress, and the trust fund is nothing more than a ledger entry in the government accounts. Don't expect Congress to pony up any of the cash anytime soon.

Anonymous said...

Joffan is correct.

Sadly, neither Hillary nor any Democrat candidate for President will support Joffan's proposal which ultimately is the correct thing to do.

Pamela said...

The problem is, that money is not just sitting in a fund. It can't just be pulled out and handed over like a bank account. Congress has spent it already, as soon as it was received. And of course, DOE will probably be denied their funding request or have it reduced, even though there was money collected for the purpose of dealing with used nuclear fuel.

I do applaud the DOE for taking this step, if that is indeed what they are attempting to do. Time for another letter writing campaign to make sure congress knows their constituents approve of this.