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Reprocessing

Reprocessing - the chemical separation of uranium and plutonium from irradiated reactor fuel - is arguably the most dangerous and dirty phase of the nuclear fuel chain. Reprocessing generates huge waste streams with no management solution and isolates plutonium, the fissile component of a nuclear weapon. Countries such as England and France, where reprocessing has been carried out for decades, face a legacy of contamination and an enormous plutonium surplus vulnerable to theft or attack.

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Wednesday
Feb102010

Hanford "clean up" will take at least 37 more years, cost as much as $100 billion, and still leave behind radioactive risks lasting thousands of years

An article in the Oregonian, written as the U.S. Department of Energy holds public hearings on its draft environmental impact statement for "cleaning up" high-level radioactive waste storage tanks and managing additional radioactive wastes and lingering radioactive contamination at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, reports that nearly a half century more ("clean up" has already been underway for decades), and a price tag that could top $100 billion, will be needed before the site's "clean up" is "finished." Even then, hazardous radioactive contamination will persist for many thousands of years, threatening the adjacent Columbia River and points downstream. The high-level radioactive wastes, and much of Hanford's contamination, have resulted from military reprocessing from 1943 to 1988. Commercial reprocessing of irradiated nuclear fuel, proposed as the latest "illusion of a solution" to nuclear power's waste problem, would involve vastly more waste than was ever reprocessed at Hanford, waste that is significantly more radioactive than military irradiated nuclear fuel. Thus, commercial reprocessing would likely cause radioactive ruination of the environment wherever it is carried out, with serious health consequences downwind and downstream for millenia.

Wednesday
Dec022009

West Valley, NY: case study in reprocessing's environmental devastation 

West Valley, New York is the only site in the U.S. to ever carry out commercial radioactive waste reprocessing. In six short years of operation, from 1966-1972, it massively contaminated its surrounding environment. A comprehensive 2008 report, "The Real Costs of Cleaning Up Nuclear Wastes: A Full Cost Accounting of Cleanup Options for the West Valley Nuclear Waste Site," has documented that protecting the Great Lakes downstream will cost a whopping $10-27 BILLION! Additional background information on the history and current status of West Valley can be found at the website of Nuclear Information and Resource Service.

Wednesday
Dec022009

International reports on the status of reprocessing worldwide

The International Panel on Fissile Materials has published a collection of comprehensive reports detailing the status of reprocessing in a number of countries that currently do it (Russia, the U.K., France, and India) are soon to (Japan), or are flirting with the idea of doing so again (the U.S.).

Saturday
Jul112009

The perils of reprocessing

Read a good letter to the editor in the Rutland Herald about the perils of reprocessing.

Saturday
Jul112009

Top ten reasons reprocessing is environmentally devastating

Read the "Top Ten Reasons Reprocessing is Environmentally Devastating," a list of talking points prepared by Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear to oppose the Department of Energy's proposed Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP).