Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Response From Zach Wamp

This morning I received the following email in response to the message I sent to my Congressman using the link on Harvey Wasserman's website:

Dear *****:

As our country looks for ways to reduce carbon emissions, nuclear energy must be part of the equation to help meet our country's future energy demands. As chairman of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus for seven years, I am among the most outspoken Members of Congress on alternative sources of energy. Nuclear energy is essential to providing low cost energy in the Tennessee Valley and we need to expand its use to other parts of the country.

Yucca Mountain has been authorized as a nuclear waste repository, but I am also a strong supporter of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership initiative (GNEP), which supports nuclear power and the reprocessing of nuclear waste.

The research and testing should and can be done in Oak Ridge but the reprocessing of this waste will likely be handled in a more remote location in Idaho. There are many questions the Department of Energy and Congress must consider before a final decision is made.

We must determine if a large scale reprocessing plant or smaller scale pilot plant will work best and how many regional facilities are needed. We have several missions going strong at the lab and at Y-12 and I am looking forward to what the future holds for Oak Ridge. I am sending you an article from The Oak Ridger about this very issue.

Thanks for being an active citizen and supporter of nuclear energy. Keep up the good work!

Wamp touts TVA role in nuclear waste project

SPRING CITY (AP) - The Tennessee Valley Authority is vying to host a national demonstration project for recycling spent nuclear fuel, U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp said Thursday.

"I believe TVA is going to ... prove to our country that you can deal with the No. 1 liability associated with the nuclear industry and that is the waste," the Chattanooga Republican said after touring an unfinished Watts Bar Nuclear Plant reactor that TVA intends to complete in five years.

America needs nuclear power to meet growing demand for energy and power sources that don't foul the air like coal-fired plants, he said.

But the country will never be able to find enough places to bury the radioactive waste already piling up at nuclear plants, including TVA's, he said.

"You can't build Yucca Mountain after Yucca Mountain after Yucca Mountain," Wamp said of the long-stalled Nevada site for nuclear waste. "As a matter of fact, we are proving it is kind of hard to build the first one."

But if an anticipated nuclear revival develops as predicted, the United States will need six more Yucca Mountains over the next 50 years, said Wamp, a member of the House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee.

"So let's look at what the British and French do and prove to our country that you can close the fuel cycle. Reprocess the waste back into energy - safely and efficiently," he said.

Wamp is confident that reprocessing works. He said he's seen it work on a small scale at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Reprocessing the waste to extract still-usable uranium could help recycle about 80 percent into new fuel. Officials estimate the remainder would still have to be buried at a facility like Yucca Mountain.

Toward that end, the Department of Energy is reviewing proposals from four industry groups for a nuclear fuel reprocessing pilot project under the Bush administration's Global Nuclear Energy Partnership initiative.

Cooperative agreements with the groups are expected to be announced next month. They will then have until 2008 to come up with more detailed business plans.

TVA, the nation's largest public utility, has incorporated its processes into proposals from three of the four groups - AREVA Federal Services LLC, EnergySolutions LLC and General Electric-Hitachi Nuclear Americas LLC. The fourth group is General Atomics.

Warmest Regards,

Zach Wamp
Member of Congress


Ashutosh said...

That's nice. If you haven't seen it, here is an article, Managing Spent Fuel in the United States: The Illogic of Reprocessing where it is argued that necessarily including spent fuel reprocessing could make proliferation and other problems severe.


Sovietologist said...

Ah yes, the Von Hippel piece. I saw this awhile ago and found it quite thought-provoking. I think that Von Hippel is right that reprocessing is unnecessary, and as such is a waste of money. At the same time, I think that Von Hippel's analysis of proliferation risk is dubious for a variety of technical and historical reasons. I'm planning an elaborate blog post where I'll examine Von Hippel's and Lovins' writings on the subject.

Technically, the only justification for reprocessing is to produce plutonium to fuel breeder reactors that are many decades away. And because of the Am-241 contamination problem, stockpiling reactor-grade Pu makes little sense anyway- especially since weapons-grade Pu will probably be available to fuel the first FBRs. But politically, I think advanced fuel cycle research is needed to end the waste controversy.

Anyway, the main point of my original email to Wamp was to counter the antinuclear argument "would you want nuclear waste near your home?" by telling my congressman to send as much waste as possible to my hometown. I just wanted to stick it to Harvey Wasserman.