Non-proliferation experts urge US to not support nuclear fuel project By Reuters


By Timothy Gardner

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Nuclear weapons experts who have worked under four U.S. presidents told President Joe Biden and his administration on Thursday that an effort to reprocess spent nuclear fuel would violate U.S. nuclear safety standards.

SHINE Technologies and Orano signed a memorandum of understanding in February to build a US plant to recycle, or recycle, nuclear waste. It could have a capacity of 100 tons per year from the early 2030s.

The project would violate a policy signed by Biden in March, 2023 that says nuclear research and development should focus on methods that “avoid the production and assembly of nuclear weapons that could be used as weapons,” the experts said in a letter to the president.

They said: “If such a facility were to be built in the United States, it would allow the construction of reprocessing facilities in other countries to become legal, and this would lead to the dangers of proliferation and nuclear terrorism.”

Many non-proliferation supporters oppose the reform, saying its supply chain could become a target for terrorists seeking to seize weapons to use a nuclear bomb.

France and other countries have reprocessed nuclear waste by breaking it down into uranium and plutonium and reusing it to make new fuel for electricity. U.S. sales may be longer than those in those countries, inflation experts say.

Former President Gerald Ford (NYSE: ) stopped the reform in 1976, citing overcrowding. Former President Ronald Reagan lifted the ban in 1981, but rising costs have prevented plants from opening.

The White House Security Council and the National Nuclear Security Administration did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

A SHINE spokesperson said that its technology contributes to global security and that “proper recycling of spent fuel is the only known method of removing plutonium that has already been produced in fission reactors.”

A spokesperson for Orano USA said: “It’s combining our expertise to create a solution that’s challenging and addressing concerns that aren’t growing, and bringing together commercial products that can help.”

The letter was signed by 11 former US officials including Thomas Countryman, who served under President Barack Obama, Robert Einhorn, who served under President Bill Clinton, Robert Galluci, who served under President George HW Bush, and Jessica Matthews , who worked under the former President. Jimmy Carter.

The Biden administration believes that nuclear energy is a key component in the fight against climate change. But the waste is stored in ponds and then in bulk tanks at nuclear plants across the country as there is no permanent place to store it. The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, or ARPA-E, said in 2022, it is funding twelve projects to destroy the waste, with $38 million.

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