Blue Ribbon Commission (BRC) on America’s Nuclear Future concludes its report on how to deal with the growing nuclear waste problem. This is an immediate problem created over a very long time period. However, the long term solution for nuclear energy has to be divided into two; the most important being to create safe, clean, affordable and scalable energy and the second being a way to deal with the waist situation.
The report was chartered to come up with recommendations for management of the back-end of the nuclear fuel cycle. Following the Obama administration’s cancellation of the Yucca Mountain geological nuclear waste depository, spent nuclear fuel and associated waste is continuing to pile up at individual operating sites across the USA. The Commission’s report is now urging the government to address the issue in order not to leave a massive problem for future generations to solve.
Although the Commission’s report is careful to avoid specific recommendations on future directions for nuclear power, it does consider the pros and cons of one particular category: the “once-through fuel cycle with high-temperature reactor”. This category was selected by the Commission because it was deemed to have “the potential to displace the use of fossil fuel across all energy sectors, not just electricity production”. The high-temperature molten-salt reactor using thorium is featured as a possible alternative (BRC Report page 103).
Such a solution would produce safe, clean, affordable energy on a large scale with minimum amounts of waste, on an entirely different scale than today’s.
One can't help but wonder if there will be a BRC on the “front of the fuel cycle” and what its concluding remarks would be.
Blue Ribbon Commission, BRC.gov
BRC: Report to the Secretary of Energy, BRC
Blue Ribbon Commission for US Nuclear 'back end', IThEO