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Thursday, January 26, 2006

Nuclear Spent Fuel Reprocessing: Yes

We support the Bush administration’s Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) plan to expand civilian nuclear energy in the U.S. and abroad while taking spent fuel from foreign countries and reprocessing it. Recycling spent fuel reprocesses the uranium and also separates plutonium that can be used in bombs to produce a mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel that can be used in commercial nuclear reactors to produce electricity. Such fuel is being used at a nuclear plant in North Carolina.

Nuclear power is a technology that does not increase global warming. We also believe that nuclear waste should be handled by a separate agency (U.S. Nuclear Waste Management Agency) from the Department of Energy. The Bush plan will include $250 million in the fiscal 2007 budget for the program.

Instead of just providing nuclear fuel to reactors in other countries, the U.S. would also take back the fuel for reprocessing once it has been spent. Russia is proposing a similar plan for the Iranian nuclear program. The U.S. has opposed reprocessing spent fuel because it produces material that could be used in nuclear weapons. We believe spent fuel can be properly handled and the GNEP will not increase the danger of proliferation.

Norris McDonald is Cochairman of the Nuclear Fuels Reprocessing Coalition

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