April 18, 2014

Washington delegation says SRS could benefit from fuel rod recycling

Advocates of nuclear power are hoping to convince the Obama Administration to develop the U.S. nuclear infrastructure. That includes recycling spent nuclear fuel. The South Carolina delegation is hoping that the Savannah River Site will benefit from a new nuclear focus, as a center of research and possibly as an active facility.U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham says recycling fuel rods is the way to go.   ”If we could persuade the new administration to allow us to change the way we build nuclear power plants and allow us to recycle nuclear waste like they do in some other countries,  it would create a lot of jobs, particularly in South Carolina, and clean up the environment and make us less dependent on foreign oil.” 

Graham says originally, the Obama Administration was in favor of the Yucca Mountain nuclear storage facility, but then changed its mind.  “Once a fuel rod is taken out of a reactor you have to do something with that rod.  It was going to go to Yucca Mountain.  Now there’s no place for it to go.  Now we’re in noman’s land.  France and Japan recycle rods and put 95 percent of the material back into reactors.  I think that’s what we ought to be doing.  It’s called recycling.” 

At the same time, the licensing process has begun for Yucca Mountain, the giant nuclear dump inside a Nevada mountain, but due to opposition from the state of Nevada, it will be many years before licensing is completed and the facility is opened, if that happens. Almost all of the 319 concerns raised by Nevada were accepted Monday for consideration by federal regulators.

Graham says it’s good that House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn of South Carolina has endorsed nuclear growth, since he has the ear of President Obama.

Second District Congressman Joe Wilson is hoping that the S.R.S. research center will benefit from the pro-nuclear swing.   “We actually promote a carbon-free technology and this would be part of it.  There would be up to 110 billion dollars to recycle spent nuclear fuel.  Nuclear energy has the advantage of being clean, and it wouldn’t raise taxes, and would create jobs.”