Issue Date: July 30, 2007
Spent Nuclear Fuel
Jeff Johnson's article on reprocessing spent nuclear fuel was balanced and well-written (C&EN, June 18, page 48). I did note one error and one omission that I think might be of interest. Nuclear power is not free of greenhouse gas, because it is roughly equal to natural gas. Coal plants power the processing of the fuel. So for an accurate inventory of greenhouse gas emissions for any fuel, the entire cycle must be taken into consideration.
Also, the Department of Defense has reserved a considerable portion of the storage at Yucca Mountain for its own nuclear waste, that from the nuclear Navy, for example. This means there is not enough room at Yucca as it is now planned to store all of the waste from civilian reactors that is currently being stored on-site. I visited Yucca Mountain in February and was surprised when this was explained as part of the tour.
Cortlandt Manor, N.Y.
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