Nuclear Recycling Could Be Emerging Technology in AmericaPosted: Updated:
Nuclear recycling is done in France, Japan, and now it's starting in Canada, but not in the U.S. When President Carter was in office he signed an order to ban nuclear recycling technology, but later President Reagan over turned it.
Today, there are many interests from American companies and the federal government. Companies like Energy Northwest think it's vital for the nuclear power industry.
At Energy Northwest gray domes hold all of the old nuclear fuel that they have used in the last 25 years.
"It's the only operating nuclear power station in the Pacific Northwest and it produces about enough electricity to run the city of Seattle," said Brad Peck, Energy Northwest Executive Project Manager.
Nuclear power from this plant has no green house gas emissions and the left over waste could all fit in a building the size of a convenience store.
"Nuclear power and the increase of cost of uranium in recent years has meant that the cost of fuel has gone up which makes recycling used fuel that much more attractive," said Peck.
Right now there is no commercial reprocessing of nuclear fuel.
"There's been talk of reprocessing for many years at this point no one has come forward with an application for a reprocessing facility in the U.S," said Michael Layton, Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
There are a lot of issues people have with nuclear energy, but out of the 104 nuclear plants in America that have been running for 30 years, there has not been one related death.
"I think as we take this next step and start recycling and close what we call the fuel cycle we will be much better off and we will see nuclear power take on a true renaissance," said Peck.
If a company wanted to build a nuclear fuel recycling facility they would have to get a license from the NRC. It would be a similar process that is needed to build a nuclear reactor. In the U.S. there are 30 applications to build new nuclear plants.