FROM BURIAL TO RECYCLING: A CHANGE IMPERATIVE FOR NUCLEAR FUEL WASTE MANAGEMENT


37th Annual CNS Conference - 2017 June 04-07

Presented at:
37th Annual CNS Conference
2017 June 04-07
Location:
Niagara Falls
Session Title:
2B1 -Health, Environment & Spent Fuel / Waste Management (III)

Authors:
P. Ottensmeyer (University of Toronto)
  

Abstract

Used CANDU fuel “waste” is over 99% uranium and transuranic elements (TRUs) all of which can be consumed in fast-neutron reactors to provide carbon-free energy amounting to over 130 times more energy than already extracted in CANDU reactors. This material, currently over 50,000 tons in Canada, is slated for burial in a planned deep geological repository (DGR) at a lifecycle cost of $20-40 billion, primarily to sequester the long-lived radioactive TRUs safely in virtual perpetuity. Recent studies have confirmed that all of the TRUs in the stored “waste” can be recycled and consumed preferentially within a few decades, negating the reason for a long-term DGR. Consequently, modern nuclear fuel waste management must discard the idea of a now-unnecessary fuel “waste” burial, and take up recycling of the “waste” heavy atoms, the TRUs and uranium, and concentrate as well on the recoverable value of the stable and short-lived fission product residues.

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