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Nuclear reuse initiative scrapped

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The U.S. Energy Department will scrap a Bush administration initiative that could have brought billions of dollars in new spending -- and a lot more nuclear materials -- to South Carolina.

The Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, unveiled in 2006, was a plan to reprocess spent commercial nuclear fuel to maximize its efficiency, reduce waste volume and prevent its exploitation for nuclear weapons. Two of the 11 sites proposed for such reprocessing centers are in South Carolina.

The domestic portion of the international program, which has been criticized by environmental groups as too expensive and too dirty, will not be pursued any further.

"The Department has already decided not to continue the domestic GNEP program of the last administration," said DOE deputy press secretary Jen Stutsman in a statement Wednesday to Nuclear Engineering International magazine. "The long-term fuel cycle research and development program will continue, but not the near-term deployment of recycling facilities or fast reactors."

Tom Clements, the Southeast nuclear campaign coordinator for Friends of the Earth, said scrapping the program has both positive and negative impacts for South Carolina.

"Some of the big contractors have been anxious to get new missions for Savannah River Site, including a reprocessing facility, so this will be a big setback to those efforts," Mr. Clements said. "On the other hand, it is good news for the taxpayers and good news for the environment of South Carolina in that we wouldn't have all this material being shipped here."

One of the possible sites for a reprocessing facility is in Barnwell County adjacent to SRS. Savannah River National Laboratory within SRS also received a grant to study site possibilities.

Mr. Clements said recent estimates for such a facility have been incredibly high. "One DOE person working on the GNEP program estimated $15 billion -- just for the reprocessing facility itself," he said.

The GNEP facilities were to handle spent fuel from commercial nuclear plants -- not military weapons systems. Mr. Clements said DOE's decision not to pursue the project still leaves a major issue unresolved.

"The question of what to do with spent fuel still remains," he said. "Something will have to be done with it."

That lingering question, he said, opens the door for the possibility that SRS will somehow inherit all that waste at some point in the future.

Rick McLeod, executive director of the SRS Community Reuse Organization -- an economic development group working to bring new missions and jobs to the area -- said the decision not to pursue GNEP is no surprise, due in part to the controversy that has raged over the program.

"It might be closing one door and opening another," Mr. McLeod said. "It goes back to the entire issue of looking at nuclear fuel, so it might open new opportunities for reprocessing that we could take advantage of."

He noted that DOE Secretary Stephen Chu announced in March the department's intention to abandon a 27-year, $13.5 billion effort to establish a permanent nuclear waste repository in Nevada's Yucca Mountain and proposed finding "new strategies" to deal with the growing volume of nuclear material.

Those new strategies could include reprocessing activities under a different name than the GNEP, Mr. McLeod said.

"The concept might someday come full circle, but under a different name," he said.

Reach Rob Pavey at 868-1222, ext. 119 or rob.pavey@augustachronicle.com.

GRANT RECIPIENTS

Of 11 sites that received study grants to explore GNEP reprocessing facility plans, six are owned and operated by DOE. The study sites and sponsors are:

1. Atomic City, Idaho, EnergySolutions, LLC

2. Barnwell, S.C. EnergySolutions, LLC

3. Hanford Site, Washington Tri-City Industrial Development Council/Columbia Basin Consulting Group

4. Hobbs, N.M., Eddy Lea Energy Alliance

5. Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho Regional Development Alliance, Inc.

6. Morris, Ill., General Electric Company

7. Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tenn., Community Reuse Organization of East Tennessee

8. Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant, Ky., Paducah Uranium Plant Asset Utilization, Inc.

9. Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant, Ohio, Piketon Initiative for Nuclear Independence, LLC

10. Roswell, N.M. EnergySolutions, LLC

11. Savannah River National Laboratory, S.C. Economic Development Partnership of Aiken and Edgefield Counties

Source: U.S. Department of Energy

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ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
7240
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ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 04/16/09 - 06:34 am
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So when are they going to

So when are they going to "refund" the billions of dollars the utilities have paid the government for a waste repository? That money can be credited back to all the utility customers!

Riverman1
79770
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Riverman1 04/16/09 - 06:47 am
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Commercial waste is going to

Commercial waste is going to have to go somewhere. Yucca Mtn is out now. We could end up with the waste being sent here without the capability or jobs to process it. Yucca Mtn right here in River City.

jhvenier
0
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jhvenier 04/16/09 - 07:42 am
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It goes right along with the

It goes right along with the Obooba administration's so called non stimulus program...I havent seen a boom in any job needs, people are still losing their homes and nothing still happens. A trillion dollars to stimulate the economy and all it has done is make the rich richer. Keep stoping advancement in technology and industry and we will continue to become a third world country, dependant on other countries for everyday living.

Little Lamb
44027
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Little Lamb 04/16/09 - 08:13 am
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This is a sad story and a sad

This is a sad story and a sad day. Recycling nuclear fuel is a sane, rational solution, and IT REUSES POTENTIAL ENERGY IN THE FUEL RODS instead of burying that energy in the ground, in a pool of water, or inside concrete casks standing like bowling pins on concrete pads all over the U.S. Stupid is as stupid does, and the PBO administration does stupid.

karmakills123
8
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karmakills123 04/16/09 - 08:43 am
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barry and his boys at their

barry and his boys at their finest........(I didn't vote for him did you?)

SCEagle Eye
875
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SCEagle Eye 04/16/09 - 09:25 am
0
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Reprocessing at SRS would

Reprocessing at SRS would leave behind a huge amount of nuclear waste, far more than at the site now. This program has to stop or South Carolina will be the nation's radioactive waste dump, while a few special interests great real rich. Money is the driving force with reprocessing, not science, as reprocessing has been shown to be a costly mistake in other countries and in the US as well. Check out what happened at the reprocessing disaster called West Valley, NY.

BMused
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BMused 04/16/09 - 09:25 am
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GNEP failed to draw support

GNEP failed to draw support from Congress. That was due to a number of factors. I think the typical congressman/woman tuned out once they heard that it might take 30 years to achieve the benefits it posed. Second, in 2006 Congress was upset that the Bush Administration chose to roll out the ambitious GNEP initiative at the same time not budgeting for "essential" aspects of the 2005 Energy Policy Act.
The GNEP international "sales" force did better overseas, getting more than 20 nations to sign some (vague) principles that were a feelgood boost to GNEP managers, but seemed more like the proverbial pig-in-a-poke.

The biggest hurdle is how to close the gap between what reprocessors would charge for reprocessed fuel compared with the market price of fresh fuel. There would be howls from the usual parties who decry subsidy if the government had to make up the difference. There are some would-be reprocessors who claim they can compete. If so, they should seek investment backing and propose a plan to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Reindeargirl
44
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Reindeargirl 04/16/09 - 11:10 am
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Thank God somebody has come

Thank God somebody has come to their senses! Exporting nuclear technology to third world countries and then promising to take back their spent fuel is a nightmare waiting to happen. Will we start a war if they re-nig and sell their spent fuel to say, a North Korea? The nuclear genie should never have been let out of the bottle, and now all we can do is try and lure him back in by canceling idiotic programs like this. take the stimulus money and CLEAN UP SRS so our grandchildren don't have to worry about the nightmare we created over half a century ago. If communities want new reactors, they should be willing to store the spent fuel on site, as hardened onsite storage. You make it - you benefit from it - you keep it. Simple philosophy that finally brings to light the irrevocable dilemma of nuclear waste. REPROCESSING DOES NOT RID US OF NUCLEAR WASTE. just ask the French. They still have to have a geologic repository, which they can't locate, and they have been dumping liquid radioactive waste into the ocean for years. BOOOOO.

jhvenier
0
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jhvenier 04/16/09 - 11:16 am
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Reprocessing only makes

Reprocessing only makes sense, I dont know how it is assumed that reprocessing leaves behind more waste than original, that is a typical Anti-anything nuclear movement lie. This falls in the same anti lie as reprocessing dont work...it does and is being performed in other countries (that have become more advanced nuclear wise than ours..due to the anti minority crowd over the last 20 years). If reprocessing was a costly mistake, why then is it currently being performed with success? Actually reprocessing works for countries using the technology because they reprocess and use it in their reactors at a decreased cost of refining more plutonium. A current exaggeration by the current anti crowd to use since all else they have used is dwindling. We should use reprocessing as another means beyond future technology to exhaust the waste, it makes sense. To not use technologies such as these, is not being responsible.

jhvenier
0
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jhvenier 04/16/09 - 11:24 am
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Too late, third world

Too late, third world countries use nuclear technology...including North Korea...proliferation is of concern only if an indication of another country sets up technology to further process radioactive sources of that are fusion capable. It would be nice if study was performed before taking a one sided view. Nuclear technology for energy is a wise decision and for third world countries very beneficial due to costs of using gas fired turbines. There is a large difference when a country uses nuclear for energy or one that uses it and then decided to build centrifuge facilities for further processing for bombs.

Little Lamb
44027
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Little Lamb 04/16/09 - 12:02 pm
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"Aiken Conservative" is

"Aiken Conservative" is absolutely incorrect when she says that nuclear fuel reprocessing (i.e., recycling) "leaves behind" more waste than it starts with. Nuclear fuel recycling separates radioactive fission products from reusable uranium and plutonium. Then the uranium and plutonium are reforumulated into new fuel rods while the radioactive fission products are prepared for burial. The total volume to be buried as high-level radioactive waste is lower than the original volume of spent fuel.

SCEagle Eye
875
Points
SCEagle Eye 04/16/09 - 01:05 pm
0
0
Reprocessing takes spent fuel

Reprocessing takes spent fuel and dissolves it in acid, creating a volume of waste up to 10x larger. Plus, very little of the contaminated uranium is reused, thus another big waste stream. The UK and Russia don't even reuse the plutonium, so just keep accumulating weapons-usable materials. Reprocessing and MOX production have collapsed in the United Kingdom and Japan has not been able to start up it's $20 billion reprocessing plant. I am aware that this is the kind of "success" that some special interest wants because it fleeces the tax payers but it's not the type of industry that fiscal conservatives and the public want for our area. The big-government crowd can look elsewhere to dump spent fuel.

Little Lamb
44027
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Little Lamb 04/16/09 - 01:38 pm
0
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You conveniently left out the

You conveniently left out the fact that the radioactive elements are removed from the acid (by precipitation and/or ion exchange) and only the salts have to be disposed of. The acid is then re-used. The volume reduction is substantial. Please realize that the poor practices in reprocessing (recycling) that went on at SRS from the 50s through the 80s have been replaced with modern, environmentally-friendly practices today.

Axil
0
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Axil 04/17/09 - 12:00 am
0
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Molten salt reactors can burn

Molten salt reactors can burn near 100% of nuclear wastes and make electrify from them. This is a far better solution then reprocessing this waste.

To learn more see one of the following:

Aim High

http://rethinkingnuclearpower.googlepages.com/aimhigh

SCEagle Eye
875
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SCEagle Eye 04/17/09 - 08:45 am
0
0
Reprocessing boosters have to

Reprocessing boosters have to be very brave to tell us that they will make us taxpayers pay $15 billion+ for a reprocessing plant & billions more for all that goes along with it. You big-government folks want to stick yet more debt the the taxpayer and contaminate our state but we will STAND UP and fight back.

jhvenier
0
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jhvenier 04/17/09 - 12:16 pm
0
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Yea and you liberals want to

Yea and you liberals want to bolster lies, misconception and scare tactics to try and get the general public on your side of the issue. I think the general public is sick of being lied to by the anti everything crowd, go nukes, go reprocessing, go industry, go technology, go America!!! Liberal times need to cease!!!

SCEagle Eye
875
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SCEagle Eye 04/17/09 - 01:53 pm
0
0
Agreed, a liberal approach to

Agreed, a liberal approach to shoveling money to Nuclear Welfare Queens must stop. The fiscally conservative approach is against big-government handouts and now the false conservatives are howling. The nuclear welfare mentality in this community has kept down the expansion of business into other areas. The big-government crowd that wants to rip off the tax payers are finally being challenged and the howls are a good cathartic for fiscal conservatives who have been too quiet too long. The tax day tea parties enabled us to speak out and STAND UP to special interests!

SCEagle Eye
875
Points
SCEagle Eye 06/27/09 - 08:25 am
0
0
Good news on the reprocessing

Good news on the reprocessing front & good news for the Aiken/Augusta area. The Environmental Impact Statement on reprocessing (Global Nuclear Energy Partnership) is now being canceled by DOE (on June 29). The over-reach to build a reprocessing plant at SRS has been stopped. The effort by narrow special interests to dump spent fuel at SRS for reprocessing and stiff the tax payers with the huge costs of that has hit the wall. We in South Carolina don't want anymore nuclear waste dumped at SRS!

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