Reprocessing Nuclear Fuel is the Way to Make Yucca Mountain Work tor Everyone, by Tom Randall

BACKGROUND: The Associated Press reported on May 8, 2002 on the alleged inadequacies of Yucca mountain as a repository for spent nuclear fuel. In the report, the notion of reprocessing fuel to reduce storage needs was discussed but it said, “the U.S. remains opposed to reprocessing [of nuclear waste] because of nuclear proliferation concerns” AP added a statement by Energy Undersecretary Robert Card who said, “The administration is on record as being willing to reopen the reprocessing issue.”

TEN SECOND RESPONSE: The administration is right to consider reprocessing nuclear fuel, in addition to opening the Yucca Mountain repository. New technology can reprocess fuel without the danger of proliferation.

THIRTY SECOND RESPONSE: Reprocessing nuclear fuel sent to the Yucca Mountain repository will provide us with affordable, abundant energy and change the storage requirements from vast quantities to be locked away for thousands of years to smaller quantities needing only a few hundred years of storage. New technology such as the Integral Fast Reactor and pyroreprocessing make all this possible with absolutely no danger of nuclear proliferation.

DISCUSSION: When work on the Integral Fast Reactor (IFR) and pyroreprocessing was halted by former Energy Secretary, Hazel O’Leary in 1994, on the groundless fear that it would create a market in bomb-grade plutonium, Argonne National Laboratory was just 2-3 years and $200-300 million dollars from completing the research necessary to build full-scale reactor/reprocessors.

For information on the Integral Fast Reactor, which could change Yucca Mountain from a long term repository to a shorter term, temporary storage facility, read National Policy Analysis #378, “Integral Fast Reactors: Source of Safe, Abundant, Non-Polluting Power” by George S. Stanford, Ph.D. at


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