Thursday, March 29, 2007

Oak Ridge: Comments Due April 4th

The Global Nuclear Energy Partnership is the Bush administration and the U.S. Department of Energy's deeply flawed plan to address global warming by resuscitating nuclear power plants world-wide. They make it sound so easy. All it will take is billions of your (taxpayers') money.

The proposal calls for the development of three new nuclear facilities to be sited at 11 possible locations in the U. S. Two potential sites, Oak Ridge and Paducah, are of local concern. The first new technology to be developed is a nuclear waste reprocessing plant. The second is a fast neutron reactor. The third is a nuclear fuels research facility. The total cost to reprocess the estimated lifetime discharges of current U.S. light water reactors by this process and to build the estimated 50 fast reactors to use the reprocessed fuel is estimated to be $250 Billion.

GNEP is big on vision but short on specifics, according to an August 7, 2006 article in Nuclear Engineering International. It is being touted as "a bold new approach toward the global nuclear economy, aimed at attacking the dangers of proliferation and significantly reducing the nuclear waste problem." Clay Sell, Deputy Secretary of Energy, claims that GNEP will "enhance the expansion of nuclear power worldwide."

This project was originally conceived as a smaller sized demonstration plant, however the DOE has decided to skip that step and "fast track" the first two components of the experiment, moving directly to "commercial sized" before fully testing the process. Many unresolved questions remain concerning GNEP and nuclear power. Plans call for large quantities of nuclear waste to be transported to the facility from around the world. The waste would be ground up, liquefied, and separated into its components, including plutonium. Reprocessing is inherently expensive, dirty, and dangerous. Just ask the citizens around West Valley, New York where a plant that closed in 1972 has a mounting clean-up bill of over five billion of your tax dollars. The recovered plutonium, which is easily used to create nuclear weapons, would be burned in the fast reactor to generate electricity. This technology dramatically increases plutonium's quantity and utility as bomb material. Plus, we still have no long term nuclear waste storage facility. DOE's proposed geologic repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada will receive no waste for many years to come, if ever. Projected cost estimates range from 44 to 58 billion dollars, still more of our tax dollars.

GNEP is a desperate, ill-conceived and deliberately misleading government funded attempt to revive the fading nuclear power industry under the guise of addressing the climate change crisis, nuclear weapons proliferation, and solve the nuclear waste crisis. Nuclear power's high cost and risk make it untenable on the private capital market.

Huge federal subsidies for nuclear power limit private and public investment in more cost-effective alternatives like cogeneration, renewables, efficiency, and hydrogen fuel cells. We need to focus on developing a safe, clean, sustainable energy future, not condemning future generations to live with increasing stockpiles of nuclear waste which will remain deadly for centuries.

DOE is seeking public comment on this proposal. Voice your concerns at the public meeting at the Executive Inn Riverfront in Paducah, KY on March 6 from 6 to 9:30 pm. Or you can email comments to; fax comments to 866-645-7807 by April 4, 2007. Comments can also be mailed to:

Mr. Timothy A. Frazier

GNEP Draft PEIS Document Manager

Office of Nuclear Energy

U.S. Department of Energy

1000 Independence Avenue, SW

Washington, DC 20585-0119

Be sure to copy your Representative, Senators, and the President.

More government information can be found at: www.GNEP.+.GOV.

To find out more of the rest of the story check out these web-sites and articles:

Don Safer

Tennessee Environmental Council

615 248 6500


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