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Title: The global nuclear energy partnership and the spent fuel take-back provision

Abstract

The Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) was announced by Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman in February 2006 (1). Its purpose is to expand the use of nuclear energy throughout the world under conditions which would help reduce the threat of nuclear weapons proliferation. Its success would be based on agreements among certain nations that are signatories to the Non- Proliferation Treaty and have extensive current fuel cycle capabilities. The agreements would be for such fuel cycle nations to provide other non-fuel cycle nations with power reactors sized to match their energy needs and power distribution characteristics, fresh nuclear reactor fuel (perhaps under a leasing arrangement), and waste management services, provided that the non-fuel cycle countries agree to refrain from obtaining fuel cycle capabilities. The waste management services would include taking back the non-fuel cycle spent nuclear fuel for processing within the fuel cycle country followed by fast spectrum power reactor consumption of the spent fuel's contained transuranic elements (TRU, including neptunium, plutonium, americium and curium). All agreements between fuel cycle countries and non-fuel cycle countries would be under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and may involve three-party contracts involving the fuel-cycle state, the non-fuel cycle statemore » and the IARA (2). To be a full participant in such a world-wide program, the United States will need to add to its current uranium enrichment and reactor construction capabilities two no-longer available capabilities: a facility or facilities for reprocessing of spent power reactor fuel and fast spectrum reactors to fission the spent fuel's transuranic contents. In addition, an Advanced Fuel Cycle Facility at a national laboratory will be needed to provide research and development support for the closed fuel cycles of the future. Ironically, both the processing of irradiated nuclear fuel and the operation of fast spectrum reactors originated in the United States but both activities have been terminated while the same capabilities have been expanded internationally. Spent fuel reprocessing and fast spectrum reactor fissioning of transuranics will also be beneficial if applied to domestic nuclear waste management. This fact when combined with potential international benefits argues in favor of U.S. implementation of GNEP. However, since long-term administration and Congressional support and active participation by industry will also be required, GNEP's future remains uncertain. Public discussion leading to a better understanding of GNEP's advantages and disadvantages, such as the forum provided by Global 2007, will be necessary to obtain the needed commitments to proceed. The taking back of foreign spent fuel by fuel cycle nations is perhaps the most controversial part of GNEP and is seen by many as a disadvantage. Although previous examples of such take-back can be cited, the basic concept is contrary to an underlying assumption generally adopted by nations using nuclear power. That assumption has been that a nation benefiting from nuclear power should dispose of its waste within its borders. Even those countries that have sent their spent fuel to another country for reprocessing have accepted a contractual responsibility to receive back essentially all spent fuel components in the form of separated materials. GNEP would involve an entirely new approach, in that a fuel cycle nation would not only process the spent fuel but use some fraction of it as fuel for its own fast power reactors. Under GNEP, the fuel cycle country would obviously be responsibility for the safe management of the waste from both the reprocessing of the returned spent fuel from the non-fuel cycle country's power reactors and the later recycle of fast spectrum fuel to achieve high TRU burnup. However, the ultimate disposition of that waste has been the subject of considerable discussion and is the focus of this paper. Unless satisfactory answers can be developed for the final disposition of those w astes, GNEP might remain only an interesting concept. This paper describes alternate management and ultimate disposition strategies for the waste from a non-fuel cycle country's power reactors involved in a GNEP waste management program. It then proposes a policy called the Divided Take-back Policy that may offer both technical and political advantages and recommends further detailed analysis. (author)« less

Authors:
 [1]
  1. Advanced Fuel Cycle Research and Development Program, Office of Nuclear Energy, U.S. Department of Energy (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
American Nuclear Society, 555 North Kensington Avenue, La Grange Park, IL 60526 (United States)
OSTI Identifier:
20979698
Resource Type:
Conference
Resource Relation:
Conference: Advanced nuclear fuel cycles and systems (GLOBAL 2007), Boise - Idaho (United States), 9-13 Sep 2007; Other Information: Country of input: France; 5 refs; Related Information: In: Proceedings of GLOBAL 2007 conference on advanced nuclear fuel cycles and systems, 1873 pages.
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
11 NUCLEAR FUEL CYCLE AND FUEL MATERIALS; AMERICIUM; CURIUM; FUEL CYCLE; FUEL CYCLE CENTERS; IAEA; ISOTOPE SEPARATION; NEPTUNIUM; NON-PROLIFERATION TREATY; PLUTONIUM; RADIOACTIVE WASTE MANAGEMENT; REPROCESSING; SPENT FUELS; USA

Citation Formats

Bresee, James C. The global nuclear energy partnership and the spent fuel take-back provision. United States: N. p., 2007. Web.
Bresee, James C. The global nuclear energy partnership and the spent fuel take-back provision. United States.
Bresee, James C. 2007. "The global nuclear energy partnership and the spent fuel take-back provision". United States.
@article{osti_20979698,
title = {The global nuclear energy partnership and the spent fuel take-back provision},
author = {Bresee, James C},
abstractNote = {The Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) was announced by Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman in February 2006 (1). Its purpose is to expand the use of nuclear energy throughout the world under conditions which would help reduce the threat of nuclear weapons proliferation. Its success would be based on agreements among certain nations that are signatories to the Non- Proliferation Treaty and have extensive current fuel cycle capabilities. The agreements would be for such fuel cycle nations to provide other non-fuel cycle nations with power reactors sized to match their energy needs and power distribution characteristics, fresh nuclear reactor fuel (perhaps under a leasing arrangement), and waste management services, provided that the non-fuel cycle countries agree to refrain from obtaining fuel cycle capabilities. The waste management services would include taking back the non-fuel cycle spent nuclear fuel for processing within the fuel cycle country followed by fast spectrum power reactor consumption of the spent fuel's contained transuranic elements (TRU, including neptunium, plutonium, americium and curium). All agreements between fuel cycle countries and non-fuel cycle countries would be under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and may involve three-party contracts involving the fuel-cycle state, the non-fuel cycle state and the IARA (2). To be a full participant in such a world-wide program, the United States will need to add to its current uranium enrichment and reactor construction capabilities two no-longer available capabilities: a facility or facilities for reprocessing of spent power reactor fuel and fast spectrum reactors to fission the spent fuel's transuranic contents. In addition, an Advanced Fuel Cycle Facility at a national laboratory will be needed to provide research and development support for the closed fuel cycles of the future. Ironically, both the processing of irradiated nuclear fuel and the operation of fast spectrum reactors originated in the United States but both activities have been terminated while the same capabilities have been expanded internationally. Spent fuel reprocessing and fast spectrum reactor fissioning of transuranics will also be beneficial if applied to domestic nuclear waste management. This fact when combined with potential international benefits argues in favor of U.S. implementation of GNEP. However, since long-term administration and Congressional support and active participation by industry will also be required, GNEP's future remains uncertain. Public discussion leading to a better understanding of GNEP's advantages and disadvantages, such as the forum provided by Global 2007, will be necessary to obtain the needed commitments to proceed. The taking back of foreign spent fuel by fuel cycle nations is perhaps the most controversial part of GNEP and is seen by many as a disadvantage. Although previous examples of such take-back can be cited, the basic concept is contrary to an underlying assumption generally adopted by nations using nuclear power. That assumption has been that a nation benefiting from nuclear power should dispose of its waste within its borders. Even those countries that have sent their spent fuel to another country for reprocessing have accepted a contractual responsibility to receive back essentially all spent fuel components in the form of separated materials. GNEP would involve an entirely new approach, in that a fuel cycle nation would not only process the spent fuel but use some fraction of it as fuel for its own fast power reactors. Under GNEP, the fuel cycle country would obviously be responsibility for the safe management of the waste from both the reprocessing of the returned spent fuel from the non-fuel cycle country's power reactors and the later recycle of fast spectrum fuel to achieve high TRU burnup. However, the ultimate disposition of that waste has been the subject of considerable discussion and is the focus of this paper. Unless satisfactory answers can be developed for the final disposition of those w astes, GNEP might remain only an interesting concept. This paper describes alternate management and ultimate disposition strategies for the waste from a non-fuel cycle country's power reactors involved in a GNEP waste management program. It then proposes a policy called the Divided Take-back Policy that may offer both technical and political advantages and recommends further detailed analysis. (author)},
doi = {},
url = {https://www.osti.gov/biblio/20979698}, journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {2007},
month = {7}
}

Conference:
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