Friday, January 27, 2006

Nuclear Waste Disposal

Bush Seeks To Jump-Start Nuclear Power
26 January 2006

WSJ (WASHINGTON)— The Bush administration plans to announce a $250 million initiative to reprocess spent nuclear fuel, a first step toward reversing a 1970s policy that rejected reprocessing as too dangerous to pursue. The administration's decision to put the money into its fiscal 2007 budget to test new technologies is part of an effort to jump-start the nuclear-power industry at a time when energy prices are high and concerns about global warming make nuclear power plants more acceptable. The Bush proposal, tentatively called the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, would also give U.S. vendors, such as General Electric Co., opportunities to sell nuclear-power reactors and nuclear fuel to developing nations. It would promote the export of simpler, smaller and less-costly reactors and nuclear fuel on the condition that the U.S. would take back the spent fuel for reprocessing. While a safe way to reprocess nuclear waste also would remove a licensing hurdle to new nuclear plants in the U.S., building nuclear plants here will remain a costly and lengthy process. Source: http://tinyurl.com/7w2b7 (Reliability: 9)

Analysis: The bill is unlikely to pass and will be highly controversial. Americans will not want spent nuclear fuel imported back into their country. Nuclear power itself only has tenuous support nationwide and likely sites for the reprocessing plant (Savannah River as a research facility and Yucca Mountain as a permanent home) already face stiff citizen opposition. That said, several high ranking republicans led by Pete Domenici (NM) are proponents and the Administration would have the ability to push the bill through congress despite popular opposition among citizens, but this would come at the expense of significant political costs. (Analytic Confidence: 8)

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