WASHINGTON - A panel of the National Academy of Sciences urged President Bush on Monday to abandon an ambitious plan to resume nuclear waste reprocessing that is the heart of the administration's push to expand the civilian use of nuclear power. A 17-member panel of the Academy's National Research Council said the proposed Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, or GNEP, has not been adequately peer reviewed and is banking on reprocessing technology that hasn't been proven, or isn't expected to be ready in the time the administration envisions.
The report, released Monday, said GNEP research is taking money and focus away from other nuclear research programs and efforts to speed the construction of new nuclear power plants.
"All committee members agree that the GNEP program should not go forward and that it should be replaced by a less aggressive research program," said the panel. It said if the administration proceeds as planned there will be "significant technical and financial risks."
Bush announced the global nuclear initiative in early 2006 and has repeatedly touted it as key to U.S. efforts to deal with a growing amount of highly radioactive reactor waste and still allow a large expansion of commercial nuclear power. Internationally, the plan envisions a small number of countries including the United States and Russia supplying other nations with reactor fuel and reprocessing their used fuel.
Only last week, Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman cited the importance of the GNEP program. He said in a speech it "represents the future of global nuclear power cooperation" and will "allow for a greater global reliance on civilian nuclear power to produce the electricity needed" while safeguarding against proliferation.
The Academy panel said it did not address the pros and cons of the international aspects of the GNEP program, but expressed deep reservations about its ability to address the U.S. waste disposal issue.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Since the missile defense system has worked out so well
Except for actually intercepting incoming missiles and really pissing off Russia, Bush obviously will listen to scientists and diplomats about his wonderful GNEP plan: