Friday, May 30, 2008

Siberia repository for nuclear waste called 'impractical' - News - Siberia repository for nuclear waste called 'impractical'
May. 30, 2008
Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal

Siberia repository for nuclear waste called 'impractical'

Expert says geopolitical issues would surface


Shipping thousands of tons of highly radioactive spent fuel from U.S. nuclear power reactors across the ocean to an international repository in Siberia, if one is built, would be "impractical," a nuclear industry official said Thursday.

The comments of Steve Kraft, a senior director at the Nuclear Energy Institute, were made in reference to Arizona senator and Republican presidential candidate John McCain's statement this week that an out-of-country, international repository for nuclear waste could eliminate the need for a U.S. repository at Yucca Mountain.

Kraft was speaking in a call to reporters in anticipation that the Department of Energy will submit its long-awaited license application to U.S. regulators for the Yucca Mountain site, 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

Not only would shipping such large amounts of highly radioactive waste overseas be impractical, but "it is also geopolitically very complex," Kraft said.

"My guess ... what he (McCain) meant was the right role for an international repository was for smaller countries' (used fuel) that could be brought together in one location," he said.

Kraft cited a 1993 case involving a very small amount of used fuel from New York's Shoreham nuclear plant's operators who considered shipping it to France for reprocessing after the plant was shut down.

The company had filed an application with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for an export permit.

While all the requirements could be met, and the NRC staff recommended to proceed with the plan, the Department of Defense intervened with a letter saying that such an action was inconsistent with U.S. nonproliferation policy.

The NRC, as a result, never approved the request.

Contact reporter Keith Rogers at or 702-383-0308.

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