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Feb-17-2010 03:55printcomments

Nuclear Waste Problem: Study to Show if Fast Reactor Is Solution to Long-Term Waste Storage Headaches

Fast Breeder Reactor/ - Major Implications Seen for Obama Blue-Ribbon Waste Panel, New Interest in “Generation IV” Reactors; U.S., Russia, UK, France, India and Japan Programs are Evaluated in the Study.

Nuclear waste
Courtesy: Discovery/Treehugger.com

(PRINCETON, N.J.) - Do concerns about inadequate options for long-term nuclear reactor waste disposal now mean that it is time to make a new commitment to the development of fast reactors? What of the related concerns about the cost, reliability, safety and proliferation issues associated with fast reactors?

These questions are addressed in a major new report from the International Panel on Fissile Materials (IPFM) to be released during a live phone-based news conference set for 1:30 p.m. EST/1830 GMT on February 17, 2010.

In assessing the potential for fast reactors, the IPFM report looks at the historical experience and current status of fast breeder reactor programs in France, India, Japan, the Soviet Union/Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. The possibility of a plutonium-fueled nuclear reactor that could produce more fuel than it consumed (hence the term “breeder reactor”) was first raised during World War II in the United States by scientists in the atomic bomb program. Programs in the United States and elsewhere around the globe were driven by the hope of solving the long-term energy supply problem using the large-scale deployment of nuclear energy for electric power.

Plutonium-fueled breeder reactors originally appeared to offer a way to avoid a potential shortage of the uranium required to support such an ambitious vision using other kinds of reactors. Today, with increased attention being paid both to “Generation IV” reactors and a new Obama Administration panel focusing on reprocessing and other waste issues, interest has shifted back to fast reactors as a possible means by which to bypass concerns about the long-term storage of nuclear waste.

News event speakers will be:

* Frank von Hippel, Ph.D., co-chair of the International Panel on Fissile Materials, and professor of Public and International Affairs, Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University.

* Mycle Schneider, Paris, international consultant on energy and nuclear policy.

* Thomas B. Cochran, nuclear physicist and senior scientist in the Nuclear Program, Natural Resources Defense Council; and

* M.V. Ramana, Ph.D., visiting research scholar, Woodrow Wilson School and the Program in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy, Princeton University.

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Source: The International Panel on Fissile Materials (IPFM) was founded in January 2006. It is an independent group of arms-control and nonproliferation experts from 17 countries, including both nuclear weapon and non-nuclear weapon states. The mission of the IPFM is to analyze the technical basis for practical and achievable policy initiatives to secure, consolidate, and reduce stockpiles of highly enriched uranium and plutonium. These fissile materials are the key ingredients in nuclear weapons, and their control is critical to nuclear disarmament, halting the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and ensuring that terrorists do not acquire nuclear weapons.

The Panel is co-chaired by Professor R. Rajaraman of Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi and Professor Frank von Hippel of Princeton University. Its members include nuclear experts from Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Russia, South Africa, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security provides administrative and research support for the IPFM. IPFM’s initial support is provided by a five-year grant to Princeton University from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation of Chicago.




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Frankenstuenski February 17, 2010 11:04 am (Pacific time)

fast reactors aren't they better then slow reactors ? Over actors can be a problem also. under actors should not even be used.


jimmy February 17, 2010 10:06 am (Pacific time)

This is Great news! With Czar Barak announcing $54.5 BILLION in government backed loans for the building of new reactors based on old technology, you have to wonder where his promises of bringing the US back to its place as a world leader in technology went. One of the major problems with nuclear power in this country is that it is based on decades old technology that was originally used for atomic bomb production with the designs provided by… the US Navy?!? There are many alternatives to these toxic waste creators that the current crop of technocrats are totally ignoring. Not only are these alternatives able to consume far more of the available fuel (current designs only use , but the waste products decay after a few centuries as opposed to millennia, and have the ability to CONSUME stockpiles of current nuclear waste.

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