jagdish wrote:Experience of Yucca should convince everyone of the high cost, including the political cost of direct disposal.
Who said anything about proceeding to a collosal Yucca Mountain style deep geological repository?
All I am proposing is that reprocessing be delayed to be outside at least the century window.
Cheap surface storage is superior in the short to medium term.
Continued running of fast reactor in Russia, and their progress in new construction should be convincing proof of feasibility of a closed cycle.
I never questioned whether a closed cycle is technically feasible - I just question whether its economically worth it given the conditions we now know to exist - that of essentially unlimited cheap(ish) uranium.
Russia, India and China, who together build half of new nuclear construction are proceeding with closed cycle not bothered by any views expressed to the contrary.
Reprocessing and closed cycle is the future of energy. If you are bothered by near term costs, you could continue to close up nuclear plants and go for cheaper gas. It has started in any case.
Gas is never going to be cheaper in Europe - Shale Gas appears to be a dead duck here - and in any case perhaps I would like to harness the air quality benefits associated with nuclear power and prevent being dependant on Continental Europeans who will cut us off if things ever get serious with the Russians or Algerians?
Saying that near-term reprocessing is not worth the cost is not goign to change the business case of nuclear power.
According to that handy 'Spent Fuel explorer' the radioactivity of spent fuel after 5 years of cooling off is ~685kCi/MT and a gamma power of 780W/MT.
After one dry cask lifetime (100yrs assumed) the fuel will have an activity of 46kCi/MT and a gamma power of just 41.36W/MT.
Those reductions will likely measurably reduce the cost of reprocessing [less money for radiation hardening, increased use of glove boxes etc], but there is little reason to stop there - after two cask lifetimes (so roughly $160/kg for storage) the activity drops again to a mere 9.6kCi/MT and a gamma power of 5W/MT.
After two cask lifetimes more than half the total activity of the spent fuel is derived from 241Am and the various Plutonium isotopes, which seems to indicate that handling the fuel will be considerably less hazardous than the MOX fabrication stage of fuel recycling.
While two cask lifetimes would appear to be a little long for many cases, one cask lifetime seems to have major benefits in terms of removing the very high active short lived fission products from the fuel at almost no cost.
With uranium being cheap at this point and at every concievable point in the future - it seems unlikely that the economics will ever make sense when the price of near-term reprocessing seems to generates a value of $100k+/kg for Plutonium - higher than weapons grade uranium in many cases (with the WGU having a higher fissile content).