Nuclear power key to energy policy

Savannah River Site would be ideal for a pilot project for recycling used nuclear fuel as recently proposed by former U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici at the National Press Club.

The site has been thoroughly evaluated over the years through extensive environmental and ecological studies. Also, the site has extensive experience in handling large projects and a wealth of experience in processing nuclear materials. Also, the Savannah River National Laboratory has been involved in the development of advanced processes for recycling used nuclear fuel.

In the case of nuclear waste, the technology for disposal of radioactive waste is well-established, and the U.S. government needs to get on with the licensing and opening of a federal repository for disposal of the waste. Through the use of recycling technologies that have been designed to reduce the proliferation risk, it is possible to greatly reduce the quantity of nuclear waste and to reclaim 95 percent of the energy content that remains in the used nuclear fuel.

In addition, it is possible to reduce the proliferation risk of nuclear energy by providing fuel services to developing countries where more than 2 billion people live with little or no electricity.

World markets are highly favorable for nuclear energy growth -- there are more than 400 nuclear plants operating around the globe, producing 16 percent of the world's electricity. The nuclear renaissance emerging in the United States is well under way in other countries, with more than 40 nuclear plants under construction and many more being planned, particularly in Southeast Asia and Japan.

At one time, the United States led in the deployment of nuclear technology through the Atoms for Peace Program that was instituted by President Eisenhower, but now we have no clear energy policy. This must change.

Mel Buckner

North Augusta, S.C.

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