- American Physical Society Sites
- Meetings & Events
- Policy & Advocacy
- Careers In Physics
- About APS
- Become a Member
Next-generation safeguards technologies
On the Web
The consensus that emerged focused on four main points:
These four steps won’t solve the proliferation problem. “No single diplomatic, military, economic, or technical initiative alone will be able to fully deal with the proliferation challenge, ” said Hagengruber. “ The best prospect for achieving non-proliferation goals while expanding nuclear power is to engage all appropriate means and to maximize their respective contributions.”
In February of this year, President Bush announced a new Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP). Like the POPA report, it identifies a pathway to globally expand nuclear power while limiting proliferation risks. A key element of GNEP is the creation of a fuel services program that would provide nuclear fuel to nations in exchange for their commitment not to develop enrichment or reprocessing technology. In addition, GNEP contained the first three POPA recommendations, but differed on the fourth point, laying out a more aggressive plan for reprocessing.
Hagengruber was invited to testify before Congress on the issue of reprocessing. “Let me be clear,” he explained to Members, “we do not oppose eventual reprocessing, but we believe that a premature decision could diminish the growing momentum for nuclear power among the general public.”
When GNEP was first announced, Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman declared that the program “brings the promise of virtually limitless energy to emerging economies around the globe, in an environmentally friendly manner while reducing the threat of nuclear proliferation. If we can make GNEP a reality, we can make the world a better, cleaner, safer place to live.”
GNEP’s progress through Congress thus far has been less than smooth. Many members support nuclear energy, but there are concerns that GNEP might not be ideally formulated. Representative David Hobson (R-OH), chair of the House Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee publicly expressed “serious policy, technical and financial reservations” about the reprocessing plan in GNEP.
The House Energy and Water report for FY2007 “strongly endorses the concept of recycling spent nuclear fuel,” but finds GNEP lacking in its strategic plan for achieving this. For instance, GNEP favors an alternate recycling process using fast burner reactors, which might be technologically desirable, but which the Committee feels “adds significant cost, time and risk to the recycling effort.”
Nonproliferation and national security issues are also a concern, particularly with regard to the need to integrate spent fuel recycling, “keeping sensitive materials and facilities within a secure perimeter and minimizing offsite transportation of special nuclear materials.”
A final Committee concern centers on the lack of a requirement for interim storage of spent nuclear fuel, particularly in light of delays and mounting costs of the planned high-level nuclear waste facility at Yucca Mountain.
Hagengruber’s panel is now doing a study of interim storage of spent nuclear fuel. He anticipates that the report will be completed by the end of the year.
Hagengruber is practical about the limitations of technical solutions. “In the end, technology alone can’t stop proliferation, and some sort of long-term institutional changes will be needed,” he observed. “That was part of the rationale for GNEP. Nuclear energy will go forward whether the US pursues it or not. Perhaps if the US takes a leadership role, it can shape that agenda.”
©1995 - 2017, AMERICAN PHYSICAL SOCIETY
APS encourages the redistribution of the materials included in this newspaper provided that attribution to the source is noted and the materials are not truncated or changed.
APS Washington, D.C. Office
529 14th St. NW,
Washington, DC 20045
Director of Public Affairs: Michael Lubell
Associate Director of Public Affairs: Francis Slakey
Head of Government Relations: Steve Pierson
Senior Science Policy Fellow: Kimberly Duncan
Office Administrator and Researcher: Delia Victoria
Legislative Correspondent: Brian Mosley
College Park, MD
One Physics Ellipse,
College Park, MD 20740
Executive Editor: Alan Chodos
Editor: Jennifer Ouellette
Staff Writer: Ernie Tretkoff
Art Director / Special Publications Manager: Kerry G. Johnson
Design and Production: Amera Jone