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Role of waste disposal for new plants

  1. Feb 28, 2014 #1
    I'm curious as to how much of a factor the lack of a sensible way of dealing with the radioactive waste is in regards whether to build a nuclear plant? I mean, the closest that we recently had for an option was the Yucca disposal site until work was stopped. Granted, it wasn't a perfect plan, but it was at least a little better than the various plants just holding the waste on-site. So I was wondering if there was a better option, would more plants be built? Of course, there would still be the stigma in some people's minds of it being a nuclear plant at all, but at least a critique of the plants would be addressed. Barring knowing how to answer to the question, would you have an idea on who to ask about it?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 28, 2014 #2


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    Waste disposal is certainly a consideration, but if a new plant doesn't gain regulatory approval and receive a license to operate, the question is largely academic. Even if the waste could be made to disappear, there are huge capital costs and long construction periods involved in constructing a plant, and not everyone wants to live near a nuke.
  4. Feb 28, 2014 #3


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    By waste, I believe one is referring to spent fuel. It is waste in the sense that in it's spent fuel form, it would not be productive for continued operation in the reactor.

    US spent fuel policy involved recycling at one point to recover the unused uranium and the plutonium produced during operation. However, the recycling option was suspended.

    At the moment, the policy (once-through fuel cycle) is to deposit the spent fuel in a repository, although there is some consideration for recycling.

    The only new plants under construction are at existing sites. Otherwise, there are proposals by some nuclear utilities to use new sites, e.g., Clinch River site by TVA for an mPower plant.

    Non-nuclear utilities have been reluctant to commit to new nuclear plants. Wind and gas seem preferred options.
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