Conference Proceedings Paper
THE TRAVESTY OF DISCARDING USED CANDU FUEL
36th Annual CNS Conference - 2016 June 19-22
P. Ottensmeyer (University of Toronto)
The current plan worldwide for virtually all used nuclear fuels is costly deep burial to attempt to isolate their long-term radiotoxicity permanently. Alternatively Canada’s 50,000 tons spent CANDU fuel, of which only 0.74% of the heavy atoms have been fissioned to extract their energy, could supply 130 times more non-carbon energy using proven economical recycling and fast-neutron technologies. The result in this country alone would currently be $65 trillion of reliable electricity on demand created without greenhouse gas emissions. It would avoid adding 470 billion tons CO2 to the atmosphere compared to the use of coal, to mitigate climate change. Worldwide recycling of stored spent nuclear fuel and replenishing with depleted uranium in fastneutron reactors could avoid emitting over 20 trillion tons CO2, or over six times the current total atmospheric CO2 content. As added bonuses the long-term radiotoxicity of the used CANDU fuel is effectively eliminated, and even the shorter-lived radioisotopes become valuable stable atoms and minerals that would fetch $3.1 million per ton. That alternative is worth pursuing, instead.
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