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Ignoring the Obvious Solution to Nuclear Waste July 23, 2006

Posted by federalist in Energy, Regulation.

This news report answers itself:

Critics are outraged that the [nuclear power] industry still lacks a good solution to spent fuel a half-century after the first large-scale plant began operating….

Gees, so did everyone in the 1950’s really just rush out and build nuclear power plants, without a plan for dealing with the tons of nuclear waste they would produce?  Well, no.  Turns out that roughly 97% of spent fuel can be recycled.  And that was what we were going to do, until:

In 1979, President Jimmy Carter banned reprocessing, fearing that a byproduct, plutonium, which is used in nuclear weapons, would fall into the wrong hands.

For some reason even though we’ve reversed almost everything else done during the Carter administration this reprocessing ban is still in effect.  At least in this country.  According to N-BASE,

The main nuclear countries which reprocess spent fuel are the UK, France, Japan and Germany. There are a number of other countries which also send some, or most fuel from their nuclear power stations for reprocessing, such as Switzerland and Belgium.

The irony is so rich we could retire on it.  These European countries host the most rabidly enviro-health-safety conscious governments on earth.  Japan and Germany don’t even have nuclear weapons programs, but they recycle.  Meanwhile, the United States would rather store its recyclable fuel in pools and silos until it can open a long-term storage site for it to waste away over hundreds of thousands of years.



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