the committee believes that a research program similar to the original AFCI is worth pursuing,4 for three reasons: to extend uranium resources (when and if this need arises), to greatly reduce the long-lived, high-level actinides in nuclear waste, and to improve the waste forms for disposal of high-level nuclear waste. It may be that the international aspects of GNEP will provide technical benefits to all the participants, and there may even be some benefit in regard to inhibiting proliferation and improving physical protection as well. Such a program should be paced by national needs, taking into account economics, technological readiness, national security, energy security, and other considerations. The committee envisions such a program in the following way:


Recommendation 4-1. DOE should develop and publish detailed technical and economic analyses to explain and describe UREX+1a and fast reactor recycle as well as a range of alternatives. An independent peer review group, as recommended in Chapter 6, should review these analyses. DOE should pursue the development of other separation processes until a fully fact-based comparison can be made and a decision taken on which process or processes could be carried to engineering scale.


Recommendation 4-2. DOE should devote more effort to the qualification of recycled fuel, as it poses a major technical challenge. A fast neutron test facility is needed for fast-spectrum fuel qualification; the committee recommends carrying this out using existing facilities in collaboration with international partners. Parallel development of nonfertile LWR fuel and deep-burn TRISO fuel should be pursued to reduce program risk.


Recommendation 4-3. DOE should compare the technical and financial risks with the potential benefits. Such an analysis should undergo an independent, intensive peer review, as recommended in Chapter 6. Moreover, DOE should identify program benchmarks and report regularly on its attempts to meet them.


Recommendation 4-4. DOE should bring together other appropriate divisions of DOE and other appropriate federal agencies, representatives from industry, and representatives from other nations well before any decisions are made on the technology, in order to create and exploit shared perceptions of the roles of the participants, of the states of the various technologies, and of the commitments and schedules of each of those participants. A research, development, and deployment program can succeed only if all of those participants see themselves as its co-owners and creators.


Recommendation 4-5. DOE should defer the Secretarial decision, now scheduled for 2008, which the committee believes is not credible. Moreover, if it makes this decision in the future, DOE should target construction of new technologies at most at an engineering scale. DOE should commission an independent peer review of the state of knowledge as a prerequisite to any Secretarial decision on future research programs.


In summary, the committee concludes that without first demonstrating relevant technologies at an engineering scale, there are unacceptably high financial and technical risks to commercial-scale construction of a separations facility and a fast burner reactor.

REFERENCES

Bunn, M., S. Fetter, J.P. Holdren, and B. van der Zwaan. 2003. The Economics of Reprocessing vs. Direct Disposal of Spent Nuclear Fuel. Harvard University. December.

Crozat, M.P. 2007. Evaluating the Economics of GNEP Deployment. January 8. Distributed to the committee by DOE.

Civilian Radioactive Waste Management System (CRWMS). 1999. Engineering File—Subsurface Repository. BCA000000-01717-5705-00005 REV 02 DCN 01. Las Vegas, Nev.: CRWMS Management and Operating Contractor (M&O). ACC: MOL.19990621.0157; MOL.19990615.0230.

Department of Energy (DOE). 2005. AFCI, Comparison Report, FY 2005. May.

DOE. 2006a. Report to Congress, Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative: Status Report for FY 2005. February.

DOE. 2006b. Mission Need Statement for GNEP Technology Demonstration Projects. March.

DOE. 2006c. AFCI, Comparison Report, FY 2006 Update. July.

DOE. 2006d. GNEP Implementation Strategy. November.

DOE. 2007. Global Nuclear Energy Partnership Strategic Plan. GNEP-167312. January.

Hannum, W.H., ed. 1997. Special Issue of Progress in Nuclear Energy 31 (1).

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). 1980. International Nuclear Fuel Cycle Evaluation.

Kessler, J. 2006. Program on Technology Innovation: Room at the Mountain, Analysis of the Maximum Disposal Capacity for Commercial Spent Nuclear Fuel in a Yucca Mountain Repository. Electric Power Research Institute Report 1013523. May.

National Research Council (NRC). 1957. The Disposal of Radioactive Waste on Land, Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Nuclear Energy Agency. 2002. Accelerator-Driven Systems (ADS) and Fast Reactors (FR) in Advanced Nuclear Fuel Cycle.

OECD, Nuclear Energy Agency. 2006. Advanced Nuclear Fuel Cycles and Radioactive Waste Management, NEA 5990.

Wigeland, R.A., T.H. Bauer, T.H. Fanning, and E.E. Morris. 2006. Separations and transmutation criteria to improve utilization of a geological repository, Nuclear Technology 154 (April): 95-106.

World Nuclear News (WNN). July 3, 2007.

4

The dissenting view of two members of the committee is presented in Appendix A.



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