Explain why the United States should build spent nuclear fuel reprocessing plants. Do you agree or disagree with their position? Why, or why not?
Reprocessing of nuclear plant is the process in which the spent plutonium and uranium obtained from the waste of nuclear power plant fuel is converted into mixed oxide which can be further used in power plant to produce more electricity and can also be used to make nuclear weapons. Since 1977, US government under Jimmy Carter has banned on the reprocessing of nuclear fuel as it was not cost effective and can lead to proliferation of nuclear weapons (Shughart II,2014). The US government could think of reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel as it is very much effective in producing electricity and it will also solve the problem of nuclear waste storage and its proper disposal. In comparison to electricity generated by coal and other fossil fuels, nuclear power plant has very less carbon emission and would reduce the issue of greenhouse gas effects.
However, I agree with the current position of US of not supporting the reprocessing of nuclear fuel though it may be efficient and solve the problem of nuclear waste storage but it has several other implications which are listed below:
- Nuclear reprocessing is a complex and expensive process.
- It also increases the risk of nuclear terrorism and nuclear proliferation
- The commercial reprocessing facilities also have access of these materials so it becomes difficult to keep track of its usage accurately on timely basis and this can also lead to the theft of plutonium for making nuclear bombs which can go undetected for years.
Nuclear Reprocessing: Dangerous, Dirty and Expensive. (n.d). Union of Concerned Scientist. Retrieved from https://www.ucsusa.org/nuclear-power/nuclear-plant-security/nuclear-reprocessing#.WfVhKmiCzMU
Shughart II, W. (2014). Why Doesn’t U.S. Recycle Nuclear Fuel. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2014/10/01/why-doesnt-u-s-recycle-nuclear-fuel/#5685874f390f