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Managing Spent Nuclear Fuel

Managing Spent Nuclear Fuel: Strategy Alternatives and Policy Implications

Tom LaTourrette
Thomas Light
Debra Knopman
James T. Bartis
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 96
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  • Book Info
    Managing Spent Nuclear Fuel
    Book Description:

    Nuclear power is receiving renewed interest because of its low greenhouse gas emissions. However, if nuclear power is to be sustainable option for the United States, methods for managing spent fuel that meet stringent safety and environmental standards must be implemented. This report examines technical and institutional approaches to spent fuel management and highlights policy implications of pursuing alternative strategies.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-5115-8
    Subjects: Physics, Environmental Science, Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  4. Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  6. Summary
    (pp. xi-xx)
  7. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxi-xxii)
  8. Abbreviations
    (pp. xxiii-xxiv)
  9. CHAPTER ONE Where We Are Now, How We Got Here, and the Decisions We Face
    (pp. 1-8)

    Nuclear power is a readily available method for generating electricity that emits far fewer greenhouse gases than power generated using coal or natural gas. As such, increasing the fraction of nuclear power in the mix of energy-generation technologies is one approach to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. Motivated by this benefit, some analysts have examined the policy and technical implications of greatly increasing worldwide nuclear generating capacity (MIT, 2003, 2010).

    Although nuclear power provides about 20 percent of electricity generated in the United States (NEA, 2009b), no new nuclear generating capacity has been ordered in the United States since the...

  10. CHAPTER TWO Technical Approaches to Spent–Nuclear Fuel Management
    (pp. 9-34)

    We examine four different approaches for managing spent nuclear fuel: on-site storage, centralized interim storage, advanced fuel cycles, and permanent geological disposal. We evaluate each approach according to five criteria: safety, security, technical obstacles, public acceptance, and cost. Our evaluation focuses primarily on the near-term implications of each approach in isolation, but it is important to note that different combinations of approaches have the potential to generate different sets of costs and benefits for the current and future generations. We assess the relative implications for the current and future generations in the final chapter.

    Much has been written about nuclear...

  11. CHAPTER THREE Review of Institutional, Statutory, and Regulatory Arrangements
    (pp. 35-48)

    In this chapter, we examine the hypothesis that the current institutional arrangements for decisionmaking on the disposition of spent nuclear fuel are a primary reason that the U.S. government has been unable to implement a policy that mandated developing a permanent repository at Yucca Mountain by 1998. We focus on the academic literature and other published sources for arguments as to whether public acceptance and other factors relevant to the decisionmaking process would be likely to change if political discourse and decisions were to take place within a different institutional framework.

    This chapter begins with a brief overview of the...

  12. CHAPTER FOUR Policy Implications of Alternative Strategies
    (pp. 49-62)

    Following the recent termination of funding and the withdrawal of the NRC license application for Yucca Mountain, a new national spent–nuclear fuel management strategy must be crafted. While many of the basic technical and institutional elements from which a new strategy will be developed are well understood, these elements can be combined in different ways, and the policy implications of different combinations differ in important ways. To help inform policy deliberations, we have constructed four basic spent-fuel management strategy proposals the United States could choose to pursue. The proposed strategies are not intended to represent a comprehensive menu of...

  13. References
    (pp. 63-72)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 73-73)