- Nuclear Energy
- Expert Workshop Series
Working with the Embassy of France and the US Nuclear Infrastructure Council (USNIC), GABI organized a high-level workshop on national and local perspectives on the back-end nuclear fuel cycle. The event took place at the Embassy of France in Washington, DC, and included leaders from both the national-level and community-level seeking solutions to issues such as spent fuel management, interim and repository siting, and the development of advanced fuel cycle technologies.
Back-end management has been problematic for nearly all nuclear power countries, and national-level initiatives to secure interim storage and repository sites have often been met with local opposition. In France, steady progress is presently being achieved with the development of a repository at Bure, but siting efforts dating back to the 1980s have frequently been subject to riots and demonstrations. Siting initiatives in the Republic of Korea, likewise, have encountered fierce resistance from local and community groups, exacerbating the country’s inherent challenges with regards to locating disposal sites—high population density, limited geography, etc. In the US, the closure of the Yucca Mountain site was largely triggered by political forces, and casts a large shadow of uncertainty over the future of the US back-end program.
While siting efforts must necessarily consider geological and technical factors, the barriers to success are largely political. Careful confidence building and clear communication with potential local hosts must be steady and occur over a prolonged period. The co-location of research, recycling, and advanced fuel cycle R&D facilities may not only entice host communities through the promise of jobs and benefits, but would potentially contribute to repository safety and efficiency through reductions in the heat, radioactivity, and longevity of the final product to be disposed.