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French firm proposes used nuclear fuel solution at Savannah River Site

Monday, Dec. 17, 2012 8:15 AM
Last updated 6:45 PM
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COLUMBIA -- A French nuclear company thinks it has a solution for spent nuclear fuel in the United States.

AREVA Federal Services presented last week its concept for an interim storage and recycling facility for used nuclear fuel to the S.C. Governor’s Nuclear Advisory Council.

Paul Murray, technology director for AREVA Federal Services, described a recycling process that would reduce the amount of leftover material to be placed in long-term storage.

Murray projected a diagram onto the committee room wall of a cropping machine with a 1-ton blade, which shears a fuel assembly into small pieces. He said the fuel assembly would then fall down into a rotating dissolver, followed by other steps before fuel is produced. Waste would be turned into a high-level waste glass, suitable for disposal in a geological repository.

But the process is still on the drawing board.

Before the AREVA representative spoke, Council chairman Karen Patterson told those in attendance, “I remind you, it’s only a concept and only one.

“Speaking as a citizen,” she said, “I believe we should begin to learn about the options long before we are faced with a decision.”

Murray said AREVA’s proposed system would match recycling capacity to demand and wouldn’t involve stockpiling plutonium.

Federal leaders have been searching for ways to handle the nation’s spent fuel, which is housed at 104 commercial power reactors across the nation.

The Obama administration canceled plans to place more than 75,000 tons of materials in a deep repository in Nevada’s Yucca Mountain. A Blue Ribbon Commission created afterward said interim storage sites could be used temporarily.

In October AREVA announced it was leading a team of companies chosen by Eddy Lea Energy Alliance, LLC, to start developing the concept of a used nuclear fuel “Consolidated Storage Facility” in southeastern New Mexico.

Meanwhile, Shaw AREVA MOX Services is the contractor that will build and run the nearly $5 billion mixed oxide fuel facility at Savannah River Site.

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Riverman1
83421
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Riverman1 12/17/12 - 12:23 pm
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Ahhh, so this is what they

Ahhh, so this is what they want to do.

Humble Angela
41338
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Humble Angela 12/17/12 - 02:43 pm
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It's a good concept.
Unpublished

It's a good concept. Throwing away fuel after a "once through" in the reactor is incredibly wasteful. There is still plenty of usful uranium left that if reconcentrated can sustain criticallity again, not to mention the plutinium that can also sustain criticallity.

SCEagle Eye
910
Points
SCEagle Eye 12/17/12 - 09:58 pm
1
1
reprocessing is a nuclear mess

The reprocessing of spent fuel creates an array of nuclear waste, most of which would be dumped at SRS. To call it "recycling" is a greenwashing term used almost solely by those who would profit from reprocessing paid for by the taxpayer. But this scheme will get little traction. It has failed in all European counties except France, where it's totally subsidized. The bigger worry for South Carolina is so-called "temporary" storage of highly radioactive spent fuel. If you want us to become the new Yucca Mountain nuclear dump you love this crazy idea.

Humble Angela
41338
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Humble Angela 12/18/12 - 08:10 am
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Reprocessing waste creates no
Unpublished

Reprocessing waste creates no more radioactive material than simply disposing of it. In reprocessing, you separate the waste from the still usable material. There is NO NET INCREASE in the amount of radioactive waste.

"If you want us to become the new Yucca Mountain nuclear dump you love this crazy idea."

You mean permanantly closed and never used?

SCEagle Eye
910
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SCEagle Eye 12/19/12 - 12:42 pm
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reprocessing magnifies waste problem

Reprocessing doesn't change the amount of radiation in spent fuel but it sure does magnify the volume of waste and creates a host of new radioactive waste streams. All you have to do to realize this huge and costly problem with reprocessing is look at the existing volume of liquid high-level waste at SRS, a by-product of separating weapons-grade plutonium via reprocessing. SRS doesn't need another such mess for the tax payer to deal with.

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