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for example, since it has been difficult in the United States to keep the transmutation program alive, work on such topics as minor actinide fuel forms has been hampered. At the same time Russia is independently pursuing similar investigations with limited funding.10 There is no better time than now to call for an international summit on separations and transmutation to share the research and development progress in countries actively pursuing this technology, gain a consensus on the important questions to be answered, and establish GIFTS to decide which international collaborations would be most meaningful.

FEASIBILITY OF TRANSMUTATION TECHNOLOGY

Saying that the transmutation of radioactive waste elements is feasible may be too strong a statement at the present time. A better statement would be that it seems plausible, and significantly more work is needed to further down-select competing technologies. The only way to move from plausibility to feasibility is to proceed along the lines of the U.S. AFCI Program through to the completion of Series Two/Phase II. Getting there will not be easy. There are many difficult problems that must be solved, and there is a need for a pooling of world resources through international collaborations. In the meantime there is the need for a close coordination between GIF and a GIFTS-type organization to ensure that GEN-IV and transmutation technologies are compatible by, for example, including a suitable fast reactor for burning the actinides in the fleet of future reactors. More work is needed on separations technologies, such as UREX/UREX+ and the complementary (or possibly superior) pyroprocessing techniques. On the physics front there is a critical need for such data as fast neutron cross-sections for plutonium and the minor actinides for input and checks on reactor simulation codes.

It is clear that if transmutation is to be realized, the effort will take over a decade of hard work. In the United States there is already a shortage of students pursuing nuclear engineering and radiochemistry. Although other countries may not be experiencing the same problem, as the United States produces a large fraction of the world’s researchers in these fields, it becomes a world problem. It is critical that appropriate attention and resources be focused to confront this problem head-on. There are many problems to be solved, but the future still seems bright for the possibility of a full commercial-scale demonstration of nuclear transmutation.

NOTES

1.  

U.S. Department of Energy. A Report to Congress: A Roadmap for Developing Accelerator Transmutation of Waste (ATW) Technology, DOE/RW-0519. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, October 1999.

2.  

There is a dose and groundwater concentration limit for the first 10,000 years.

3.  

B. Richter, D. Hoffman, S. Mtingwa, R. Omberg, and J. Rempe. Report of the Advanced



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