The National Academy of Sciences released a report this week that dealt a significant blow to the Department of Energy’s current plant for GNEP which Ivan Oelrich of the Federation of American Scientists blogged about here.
In addition, 48 national and local organizations and experts sent a letter this week to Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Pete Domenici (R-NM), who lead the Energy & Water Appropriations Subcommittee, urging them to eliminate funding for the program.
The letter stated that:
The DOE’s plan “undermines U.S. nonproliferation policy, would cost taxpayers $100 billion or more, and, as many in the nuclear industry point out, does not solve the nuclear waste problem."
The letter also noted that:
“Although DOE is promoting GNEP internationally on nonproliferation grounds as a way to slow the spread of technologies used to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons, the program has had the opposite effect. Since GNEP’s inception, eight countries have notified the International Atomic Energy Agency that they reserve the right to pursue enrichment and reprocessing technologies, including South Africa and Argentina, which are considering reviving their enrichment programs.”
We’re not done with bad news for reprocessing.
The reprocessing facility at Mayak in Russia had a radioactive waste leak. Reprocessing accidents are nothing new -- In fact the reprocessing plant at Sellafield in the United Kingdom has been shut down since 2005 due to a radioactive waste leak from a broken pipe; and after decades of operation, 100 metric tons of stockpiled plutonium, and no solution to the nuclear waste problem, the UK is preparing to decommission its reprocessing plant in 2011.
These set-backs for GNEP come at as the Senate and House prepare to decide on a funding level for GNEP and reprocessing in the FY 2008 Energy & Water Appropriations.