A Single Global Small-User Nuclear Repository

Publication Information:

Conca, James, J. Wright, A Single Global Small-User Nuclear Repository, Waste Management 2009, March 1-5, 2009, Phoenix, AZ, p. 1 – 9

Year: 2009

Topics: EH&S, Energy & Utilities

Global energy partnerships in nuclear power, proposed by France, Russia, U.S. and England, seek to address the proliferation issue by controlling fuel production and nuclear materials, removing the need for each country to develop enrichment, fabrication, recycling or disposal capabilities. Several of the large generator countries such as France, the U.S., Japan, S. Korea, Russia, the U.K., China and India, all have plans for deep geologic repositories because they anticipate sufficient waste over the next century to justify the expense of a repository. However, countries having, or planning, less than five reactors, such as Egypt, Iran, Indonesia, Brazil and about 30 other countries, will not have sufficient waste generation, or a favorable geologic site, to justify the economic and environmental issues of developing their own repository. The Salado salt formation in New Mexico, set aside for nuclear waste disposal within the 16 square-mile area by the Land Withdrawal Act of 1992, is the most optimal geologic formation for the permanent disposal of any nuclear waste and is easily able to host all of the commercial nuclear waste that will be generated in the next thousand years. The U.S. commercial nuclear waste needs presently surpass all others, and will for the foreseeable future. Hosting the relatively small amount of waste from these small-user nations will add little to U.S. waste stream while the cost/benefit analysis from the standpoint of operations, safety, geology, cost and proliferation is overwhelmingly positive for developing such a global repository. Oceanic and overland transportation, high-level disposal logistics and costs from several programs, including WIPP, have demonstrated that the operation would pay for itself from international user fees with no U.S. taxpayer dollars required and still save the world about $400 billion over 100 years. The ethical considerations alone are compelling.