What to Do With Spent Nuclear FueL?


"Rather than breaking down the fuel to retrieve plutonium, an M.I.T. study suggests that the fuel should be 'managed' at a centralized repository."


NYT > Environment Download time: Apr 26 2011 9:02 AM ET

Experts on nuclear power predict that Japan's Fukushima crisis will lead to a major rethinking of how spent nuclear fuel is handled in the United States but have cast doubt on a proposed solution: reprocessing the fuel to recover plutonium and other materials for reuse.

The challenge at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan involves not only damage to three reactors but also the loss of cooling water in at least one pool of spent radioactive fuel, which prompted some American experts to recommend an evacuation to a radius of 50 miles. And that pool was not loaded nearly as heavily as pools at similar reactors in the United States.

In a study to be released on Tuesday, engineers and scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology therefore suggest that "the entire spent-fuel management system — on-site storage, consolidated long-term storage, geological disposal — is likely to be re-evaluated in a new light because of the Fukushima storage-pool experience."…

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