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Until Carter was president, spent fuel was expected to be reprocessed, not buried
Up until the mid-1970s the commercial nuclear industry was expected to operate
several nuclear fuel reprocessing plants to recover fissile plutonium from virtually all of the
commercial spent fuel from U.S reactors. These plants would use aqeous reprocessing
methods developed by the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC). The recovered plutonium
was to be used as mixed oxide fuel (PuO2 and U02) in water reactors and, later, as fuel in
breeder reactors. Each reprocessing plant had one or two storage pools to receive and store
the fuel temporarily until it was reprocessed. No long-term storage of the spent fuel from
comnmercial reactors was planned. Only two commercial reprocessing sites have received
spent fuel, West Valley, New York, and G.E.-Morris, Illinois.
See more recent reprocessing news
March 21, 2008
March 16, 2008
Fresno Nuclear Energy Group envisions building n-plant in California, with spent fuel reprocessed in France
Former labor union leader John Hutson is head of the fledgling Fresno Nuclear Energy Group that wants to build a 1,600-megawatt power reactor on 80 acres of city land, using ef fluent from a wastewater treatment plant for cooling. "This is not Wall Street businessmen," Hutson said. "These are farmers. They are salt-of-the- earth guys who know how to get things done." Hutson said his idea is to avoid the state moratorium by not producing any waste. Used fuel would be shipped to France for reprocessing
[Source: David Whitney, "Nuclear industry wants a reboot | Even in California, where new plants are barred for now, plans are afoot", The Tribune (San Luis Obispo, California), March 16, 2008, p. 1]
November 1, 2007
October 30, 2007
February 24, 2007
* [2006-04-29] Reprocessing plan pushed in D.C.
* [2006-04-29] Nuclear reprocessing, the latest fool's gold
* [2006-04-27] INL to look at nuke reprocessing plant plans
* [2006-04-26] INL to review plans for new nuclear fuel reprocessing plants
* [2006-04-20] Editorial: Nuclear reprocessing in Nevada? A proposed $5 million contract for UNLV
* [2006-04-15] Nuclear Waste Reprocessing--Scientist says it's unproven, development needs more time
* [2006-04-13] Reprocessing plans tied to Yucca delays, scientist tells panel
* [2006-04-10] BNG plans to return Thorp reprocessing plant to UK's NII
April 2, 2006
* [2006-04-01] Businesses support proposed nuclear fuel reprocessing plant
March 31, 2006
Japan - reprocessing plant starts up
The Rokkasho plant -- Japan's first commercial-basis reprocessing plant -- began the planned 17 months of active tests today, when a crane pulled up clusters of spent nuclear fuel from a storage pool to place them on a transfer truck. The plant operator, Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd., said it will begin cutting the clusters into segments tomorrow. During the test run, about 430 tons of spent nuclear fuel will be melted to extract plutonium and uranium. Full operation is planned to begin in August 2007 -- reprocessing some 800 tons of spent nuclear fuel a year into more than 4 tons of plutonium which will be used as uranium-and-plutonium mixed fuel at the country's nuclear power plants. Japan Nuclear Fuel began to build the reprocessing plant in 1993 with an estimated cost of 760 billion yen. But the construction costs swelled to 2,193 billion yen following a series of troubles such as a water leakage in the fuel pool and a design error in the cooling devices.
The test run got under way after Japan Nuclear Fuel signed a safety agreement with five municipalities surrounding the village of Rokkasho earlier Friday. The conclusion of the agreement with the city of Misawa, the towns of Tohoku, Noheji and Yokohama, and the village of Higashidori -- all in Aomori Prefecture -- follows the signing of a similar agreement with the Aomori prefectural and Rokkasho municipal governments Wednesday. The agreement contains provisions on ensuring safety, information disclosure, and the local governments' right to conduct investigations at the plant.
Besides the reprocessing plant, the Rokkasho nuclear cycle complex includes a uranium enrichment plant, a mixed fuel processing plant, a low-level radioactive waste site and a high-level waste storage center. Japan Nuclear Fuel is headquartered there.
[Ref: Kyodo News Service, "Japan's 1st full-fledged nuclear reprocessing plant begins trial run", Japan Economic Newswire, March 31, 2006 10:25 am GMT]
* [2006-03-15] Ex-lab director supports nuke plan
* [2006-03-13] Former lab head supports Bush's nuke redesign
LIVERMORE Ñ An influential Pentagon adviser on nuclear weapons threw his support last week behind Bush administration plans to redesign the entire US nuclear ...
* [2006-03-12] Former lab director supports nuke plan
* [2006-03-03] Bush Promotes New Nuclear Plan
October 24, 2005
Bush Administration and some key Congressional leaders favor reprocessing spent fuel and using it in fast reactors
Industry newsletter Inside Energy reports that DOE plans to request $400 million in FY-07 for nuclear waste reprocessing -- chemical separation of reusable nuclear materials -- and a modern reactor that can run on reprocessed fuel, part of a shift in the Bush administration's policy. Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, said that he has been reviewing DOE's plan for reprocessing spent nuclear fuel and building a new "fast" reactor to use the reprocessed fuel for several months. In the FY-06 budget, DOE had requested $70 million for reprocessing R&D. DOE submitted its FY-07 budget outline to OMB a month ago and it expects to get a response from the White House before Thanksgiving. The FY-07 budget will not be formally unveiled until February.
[Source: Daniel Whitten (McGraw-Hill), "DOE poised to shift Bush's nuclear waste strategy", Inside Energy, October 24, 2005, p. 1]
October 16, 2005
October 14, 2005
May 24, 2004
May 18, 2004
December 25, 2003
Japan - operating cost estimate lowered for Rokkasho reprocessing plant
The total cost of running the Rokkasho plant -- a spent nuclear fuel reprocessing plant under construction in Aomori Prefecture -- is projected at 18.8 trillion yen, 110 billion yen less than an initial projection. The Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan is the source of the estimate, which was dveloped by a subcommittee of the Advisory Committee for Natural Resources and Energy. The subcommittee will next be asked to recommend how to ensure that the necessary funds are available over the projected 40-year plant life.
[Ref: Kyodo News Service (Japan), "Estimation for cost of running nuclear waste plant lowered", Japan Economic Newswire, December 25, 2003]
August 26, 2003
UK - no more reprocessing contracts, Thorp to close by 2010
BNFL plans to shut down its Thorp reprocessing operation at Sellafield by 2010. The plant, which cost 1.8-billion pounds to build, opened nine years ago. The 75 tons of plutonium and 3,336 tons of uranium extracted by reprocessing so far is "stored and closely guarded but with no obvious use", The Guardian reports. The company plans to continue to use the plant, but as a waste handling facility. The 2010 date was chosen to allow fulfilling existing contracts. An older reprocessing plant, built in the 1950s, will keep reprocessing Magnox plant fuel until 2012. The magnesium cladding on Magnox fuel deteriorates rapidly when the used fuel is cooled in water, so reprocessing it is a must. The only manufacturing activity at Sellafield when reprocessing stops will be the MOX fuel fabrication plant which opened last year.
The decision to shut down the reprocessing was resisted by many in BNFL. Brian Watson, site director, told The Guardian "We have had to get rid of the 'job for life' attitude, the resistance to change, the cost-plus contracts that meant there was no discipline. This site is like a supertanker that takes some turning. I have had to let people who would not make the change go, and go they have. We have changed the reprocessing mission to one of clean up."
The Guardian notes that Mr. Watson's comments were in "sharp contrast" to the company's annual report issued just last month which trumpeted the achievements of Thorp and the vitrification plant which processes Thorp's liquid waste into glass blocks.
Mr. Watson would like to see a plutonium-burning reactor built at the site, using fuel produced by the MOX plant. But any decision to pursue such a path will come from the politicians, not from BNFL.
[Sources: Paul Brown (Guardian environmental correspondent), "Sellafield shutdown ends the nuclear dream", The Guardian, August 26, 2003; and Reuters, "Sellafield to stop reprocessing by 2010", August 26, 2003 03:23]
August 6, 2003
June 23, 2003
May 19, 2003
Russia's RT-1 reprocessing plant at Mayak operates at 20-25% of capacity of 400 metric tons/yr. [Source: Bellona, Bulgaria to ship 20 tons spent nuclear fuel to Mayak plant, May 19, 2003]