Friday, January 25, 2008

USA Should Recycle Nuclear Waste Just Like France

Micheal O'Connell, Kateri Callahan, Derrick Freeman, Rob Keast,
Keith Smith, Norris McDonald, Gilles Clement, David Brown, Jack Spencer & Laurie Harrison

Used uranium fuel from commercial nuclear power plants can be recycled. Such reuse makes it a renewable resource and the USA should reduce the amount of actual waste that will go to Yucca Mountain, the mandated repository for geologic storage. Although the U.S. abandoned such recycling back in the 1970s, the French are leading the way in spent fuel reprocessing and reuse. AAEA President Norris McDonald went on a fact finding mission in November 2007 with a group of other Americans to tour France's reprocessing facility, La Hague.

The AREVA La Hague industrial complex reprocesses spent nuclear fuel on a 740 acre site with 6,000 employees. The recycling process consists of separating and conditioning the various components of the spent fuel so that they can be recycled as uranium and plutonium fuel. The energy materials contained in the fuel can be recycled because 97% of the spent fuel is recyclable when it leaves the nuclear reactor, 96% as uranium and 1% as plutonium, while 3% is non-reusable final waste.

In the photo above the fact finding group is standing over the final storage area for the reprocessed fuel where it is allowed to cool for 3 years before being shipped out for refabrication.


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