Congress is now considering whether to approve or zero out the $405 million that President Bush is proposing to spend in fiscal year 2008 on the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP)—a program aimed at rendering plutonium inert in nuclear weapons but still useful in nuclear power plants.
Nuclear experts at the National Academy of Sciences have long questioned the practicability of the technologies GNEP plans to employ. Currently, the Government Accounting Office is now reviewing the program. This, however, leaves legislators with an information gap as they struggle to decide whether to fully fund the plan, eliminate it altogether, or redirect some of its funding to the many successful energy programs whose budgets President Bush is proposing to gut in FY 2008. In particular, major questions have been raised about the magnitude and costs of radioactive wastes stemming from the GNEP program.
To help legislators and the American public bridge this information gap, the Institute for Policy Studies will release a rigorous study of GNEP on April 23rd. Directed by Robert Alvarez, Senior Policy Advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Energy from 1993 to 1999, the report concludes that the program is likely to squander billions in taxpayer dollars on an unproven reprocessing technology that will generate unprecedented and unmanageable amounts of highly radioactive wastes without plausible disposition paths.
The potentially deadly flaws documented in Alvarez’s study include:
- The amount of long-lived radioactivity disposed of into the environment at a reprocessing site could be thousands of times greater than from nuclear weapons production. Much smaller concentrations of similar wastes at the DOE’s Savannah River Site have been characterized by the National Academy of Sciences as representing "a long term safety concern."
- GNEP would allow large quantities of cesium 135—a radionuclide with a half life of 2.3 million years—to be disposed in the near surface and pose serious contamination problems for many thousands of years.
- More than four thousand shipments of spent nuclear reactor fuel will be transported on rails and highways through cities and farmlands to the reprocessing site, posing unprecedented emergency response and security challenges.
- Despite DOE’s claims that recycling of reactor spent fuel will solve the nuclear waste disposal problem, a small fraction is likely to be recycled. Uranium constitutes more than 95 percent of the materials in spent nuclear fuel by weight. But, it will require costly treatment for reuse in reactors – estimated in the billions of dollars. As a result, DOE’s plans include the landfill disposal of tens of thousands of tons of recovered uranium.
Alvarez’s study concludes that the Energy Department "lacks a credible plan for management and disposal of radioactive wastes stemming from the GNEP program, particularly regarding waste volumes, site specific impacts, regulatory requirements and life-cycle costs."
Or as Alvarez has put it more bluntly in conversation, "You can’t just park some of the most highly radioactive wastes in the world at a landfill and assume that by so doing you have kept them safely removed from humans for the next 2.3 million years."
Denise Hughes | EurekAlert!
Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University
New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg
Satellites in near-Earth orbit are at risk due to the steady increase in space debris. But their mission in the areas of telecommunications, navigation or weather forecasts is essential for society. Fraunhofer FHR therefore develops radar-based systems which allow the detection, tracking and cataloging of even the smallest particles of debris. Satellite operators who have access to our data are in a better position to plan evasive maneuvers and prevent destructive collisions. From April, 25-29 2018, Fraunhofer FHR and its partners will exhibit the complementary radar systems TIRA and GESTRA as well as the latest radar techniques for space observation across three stands at the ILA Berlin.
The "traffic situation" in space is very tense: the Earth is currently being orbited not only by countless satellites but also by a large volume of space...
An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.
The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...
In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.
Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...
Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.
They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...
A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...
23.03.2018 | Event News
19.03.2018 | Event News
16.03.2018 | Event News
23.03.2018 | Materials Sciences
23.03.2018 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
23.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy