SRS plan proposes storage, recycling facilities

  • Posted: Friday, December 14, 2012 12:10 a.m.
    UPDATED: Friday, December 14, 2012 6:20 a.m.

The United States has 65,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel without a permanent or interim home.

At Thursday’s Governor’s Nuclear Advisory Council meeting, Paul Murray, AREVA Federal Services technology director, outlined a plan of interim storage and recycling of spent fuel at the Savannah River Site.

Murray’s presentation was not of a single theory centered around SRS, but rather an overview of several options, including several parts where the DOE-owned facility near Aiken has a history of accomplishment.

“SRS has a long track record of safely looking after special nuclear materials,” Murray said.

When addressing the issue of safety, Murray stated that the recycling – or reprocessing – was very safe. But also that the current wet and dry stored fuel at SRS was also safe.

The recycling facility, based on work that has been ongoing by AREVA in France for decades, “would be just an add-on” to already planned and operated programs currently at SRS, Murray stated.

Recycling of the spent fuel could utilize H-canyon facilities and supply the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility.

Murray was not advocating for all spent fuel to come to SRS, but that several options and several sites should be used. However, the location of the “final geological depository will influence fuel cycle development,” he said.

In the public comments portion of the meeting, Clint Wolfe, executive director of Citizens for Nuclear Technology Awareness, described not using SRS for this project as “folly.”

“It would be folly to reproduce those assets in other places,” Wolfe said of SRS. “I think the Savannah River National Laboratory could benefit from the technology... If we turn them away, some other communities will get that money and that technology. And that would be a waste.”

Rep. Tom Young asked Murray and others who spoke what “interim storage” meant, in years. But, Young never received a specific answer, as it seemed it was not a question with one, at the moment.

“For the fuel we manage at the Savannah River Site, we have been storing it for decades,” said Pat McGuire, assistant manager for Material Stabalization Projects. “We can store it for an additional 50 years – if need be. Hopefully we will not need to.”

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