DOE officially announces it won't push SRS reprocessing plan

Monday, June 29, 2009 12:37 PM
Last updated 5:16 PM
  • Follow Latest News

The U.S. Energy Department made official today its plan to scrap a Bush administration initiative that could have brought a major nuclear fuel reprocessing facility to South Carolina.

Economic developers, however, say the cancellation of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership—published in today’s Federal Register— doesn’t mean Barnwell County and Savannah River Site won’t win a similar venture in the future.

“At this point, GNEP, as a concept, is dead, but the issue of what do do with this material isn’t,” said Danny Black, president of the Barnwell-based SouthernCarolina Alliance, a regional economic development consortium.

The GNEP program, unveiled in 2006, was a broad 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 were in South Carolina, and both of those sites remain strong contenders for future projects, Mr. Black said.

“Now you have 11 sites around the country that have all been vetted and analyzed to the n’th degree for reprocessing, storage, all those kinds of things,” he said. “Those sites are still very valuable for that purpose.”

South Carolina’s sites include the $300 million Allied General Nuclear Services facility in Barnwell, built in the 1970s but mothballed by the Carter administration. Savannah River National Laboratory also received a federal grant to develop siting proposals.

Mr. Black noted that DOE also plans to abandon a 27-year, $13.5 billion effort to establish a permanent nuclear waste repository in Nevada’s Yucca Mountain—a move that elevates the need for an alternative type of facility.

“So as far as we’re concerned, GNEP may have gone away but the need to recycle spent fuel in this country is more important than ever because of the govenment’s stupid decision to close Yucca Mountain,” he said.

The expected surge in the demand for commercial nuclear power will create a comparable increase in the volume of spent fuel that will require some sort of disposition, he said. Currently, much of that spent commercial fuel is stored on-site are commercial nuclear power plants.

“I think we are, as much as we can be, still optimistic,” he said. “We are even more optimistic because, at this point, there is no alternative. Without Yucca Mountain, the pressure is on the industry to do more with recycling. And of course, we can do it here.”

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

-------------------

Today’s Federal Register: “Via this notice, DOE announces that it has decided to cancel the Global Nuclear Energy Partnserhip Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement because it is no longer pursuing domestic commercial reprocessing, which was the primary focus of the prior Administration’s domestic GNEP program. The Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009, provides $145 million for the continuation of research and development (R&D) on proliferation-resistant fuel cycles and waste management strategies. As described in the President’s Fiscal Year 2010 budget request, the Department’s fuel cycle R&D’s focus is on ``long-term, science-based R&D of technologies with the potential to produce beneficial changes to the manner in which the nuclear fuel cycle and nuclear waste is managed.’’

Comments (11) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
Grasshopper
7
Points
Grasshopper 06/29/09 - 11:48 am
0
0
Another waist of tax payers

Another waist of tax payers money! Do you know we paid on our electricity bills, for Yucca Mountain. Once again the Government has allowed the environmental wacko's to waist our money! Now you environmental wacko's, where are we going to store the radio active waste sitting at SRS and other sites?

Dixieman
17584
Points
Dixieman 06/29/09 - 12:08 pm
0
0
Not a good decision

Not a good decision

SCEagle Eye
959
Points
SCEagle Eye 06/29/09 - 12:49 pm
0
0
A tip of the hat to Secretary

A tip of the hat to Secretary Chu. This is a great decision for the people of South Carolina, the environment and the tax payer! But not so good for those who would profit from nuclear dumping at SRS.

Reprocessing yields a huge amount of waste which can't be reused, including deadly liquid highly radioactive waste which would likely stay where its produced. Just like the 35 million gallons of HLW that SRS is now struggling to deal with; but reprocessing will yield even more of that deadly brew.

If anyone is seriously concerned about the current problems with Yucca Mountain and spent fuel, then bringing spent fuel to SRS for dirty & costly reprocessing will only exacerbate the problems at the site while driving up the deficit.

edwardc
1
Points
edwardc 06/29/09 - 01:31 pm
0
0
There's just no safe way to

There's just no safe way to get rid of nuclear waste. The most environmentally friendly energy program is conservation. After that probably comes wind and then solar. We've got to cut down on energy consumption. Most of us use more than we need. Some people will say, "as long as I get mine, to heck with everyone else," but most people are responsible and will try to do the right thing.

mad_max
1
Points
mad_max 06/29/09 - 01:32 pm
0
0
Another greeno whacko heard

Another greeno whacko heard from. We spend millions and billions to come up with a plan for safe processing and storage and then a group of environmental nuts come along and claim that they know more than the experts. The fact is that we need more nuclear power generation, a way to process the spent fuel, and a place to store the waste. There ain't enough wind mills and solar panels in the whole world, or places to put them, to generate the power that we and near term future generations will need. So, a middle finger to Secretary Chu and the greeno whackos in the Obama administration.

Grasshopper
7
Points
Grasshopper 06/29/09 - 02:01 pm
0
0
Good Post MM 2:32

Good Post MM 2:32

SCEagle Eye
959
Points
SCEagle Eye 06/29/09 - 03:26 pm
0
0
Simple-mined name-calling

Simple-mined name-calling aside, it's obvious from some of the post here that some people don't have a clue what reprocessing is, about the sad history of it in the US or the faltering state of this dirty technology internationally. If special interests were to push through a reprocessing program in the US, it could mean a vast amount of liquid radioactive waste dumped at SRS. This would only magnify the waste problem, increase the costs dramatically and increase the environmental threat, as many experts have pointed out.

If anyone deceives themselves into thinking that the public in SC won't oppose this wrong-headed approach then you are drifting unawares under a cloud of self-delusion. Or, maybe it's just the heat, or perhaps the thought of getting rich off the tax payer.

Grasshopper
7
Points
Grasshopper 06/29/09 - 04:03 pm
0
0
SCEagle Eye on Mon Jun 29,

SCEagle Eye on Mon Jun 29, 2009 4:26 PM Have you ever been worked at SRS? You only read what you wan to hear. Only the ignorant put down what they don't understand. List some facts!

zardoz35
1
Points
zardoz35 06/29/09 - 05:47 pm
0
0
Since the Cold War ended, SRS

Since the Cold War ended, SRS began the trek towards irrevalence. It's part of the evoluntary cycle like anything thing else. Nothing's forever, even SRS.
What I don't fathom, is why any sane person would want to expand a radioactive waste dump? Has anyone ever checked the cancer rate in this area? Think about it.

Billy D
1
Points
Billy D 06/29/09 - 08:02 pm
0
0
actually, the cancer rate is

actually, the cancer rate is lower in the CSRA than other cities/communities of it's population size...

BMused
0
Points
BMused 06/30/09 - 10:10 am
0
0
After proclaiming "there is

After proclaiming "there is no safe way to get rid of nuclear waste," edwardc segues into a plea for conservation and wind/solar. My belief is that many proponents of conservation are expressing their beliefs that conservation is what they want "other people" to do.
Back to the "no safe way" declaration: edwardc is entitled to his opinion, but he should know that it is the consensus view of international experts that high-level radioactive waste can be safely disposed of in a geologic repository. This country's designated authority on nuclear safety, the NRC, is reviewing a license application to build such a repository at Yucca Mountain. President Obama made a political decision to stop Yucca, in apparent disregard to his acclaimed vow to let 'science' guide such decisions.
Reminder: a safe disposal plan is needed for radioactive waste from defense weapons production as well as used nuclear fuel from Navy ships and submarines. This not just about commercial nuclear power.

Back to Top
loading...
Top headlines

Stormwater fee to fund Columbia County repairs

Columbia County is set to invest an additional $600,000 in its aging stormwater system next year, with the hope that more money and manpower will result in half as many repair orders and fewer ...
Search Augusta jobs