Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Recycling Gets a Hearing

hanford Annette Carey does a good job in the TriCity Herald of covering a  public meeting that occurred there covering the possibility of recycling used nuclear fuel. Sponsored by the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) in Pasco, Washington - the tri-cities also include Kennewick and Richland - the meeting directly addressed the elephant in the room: the Hanford site. Hanford might seem a big bullseye for controversy, yet the attendees seemed quite sanguine about its potential as a recycling center.

Hanford still would be an ideal site for reprocessing used commercial reactor fuel for reuse, said several speakers at Monday's hearing.

The Tri-City Development Council has consistently said cleanup of the Hanford nuclear reservation is its top priority, said Gary Petersen, TRIDEC vice president of Hanford programs. But reprocessing fuel could not only be good for economic development, but also help clean up Hanford by recycling the spent fuel sitting at Energy Northwest, he said.

So there you have the economic argument and an acceptance of Hanford as an functional element in the community.

The nation would do better to focus on cleanup and conservation, [Tom] Carpenter [of Hanford Challenge, which watchdogs the site] said. Much work on solar and wind power could be done in Eastern Washington with a far quicker payoff than developing proposed plans for nuclear fuel reprocessing, he said.

And there you have the environmental argument. We suppose you could do both - solar and wind are obviously different kinds of projects than recycling and both look to benefit from an Obama administration. We're not really all that sure these - especially solar - are logical power generators for that part of the country, but they know better than us. (And we admit to the suspicion that solar and wind are convenient go-tos when one wants to promote "benign" energy.)

We should note that GNEP wasn't proposing putting a recycling center at Hanford at this gathering, though that might be percolating somewhere in their planning - the goal here was to discuss recycling as an issue in itself.

"People don't seem to understand the difference between civil nuclear power and the Department of Defense," said Chris Orton, a third-generation Hanford worker, who said he represented the up and coming engineers and scientists.

We second that. "Up and coming" - young, we guess he means, perhaps edgy and hip? An edgy engineer should never be let out at night - a hip one never.

We could go on, but read the whole thing. It's an interesting conversation, covering a spectrum of opinions, and Cary covers it well. It's great to see GNEP engage with communities in this way.

Bonus: Here's a video produced by Hanford Challenge. Tom Carpenter introduces it.

A view from Hanford.

2 comments:

Ray Lightning said...

Is it in the best interests of USA to proceed with obsolete technology ?

Pyroprocessing is a better manner of reprocessing than the PUREX process.

Luke said...

I'm not entirely sure what to make of the Hanford Challenge group, based on that video.

What exactly do they want?

To see that the Hanford site is cleaned up, that it continues to be cleaned up, as far as is reasonably possible? OK, sure, that makes sense.

Hopefully they're not cut from the same cloth as the usual Green movement who don't know the difference between nuclear power and what was done at the Hanford site, and hold up the Hanford site as an example of the terrible legacy of unmanageable radioactive waste that supposedly comes from nuclear power.