This research considers the issue of nuclear waste disposal in the United States. The nuclear waste present in the United States is a combination of spent fuel rods from commercial nuclear power generators, high-level liquid radioactive waste from government-owned nuclear reactors uses in the production of nuclear weapons, and miscellaneous low-level nuclear wastes.
While the way in which nuclear waste should be disposed is a volatile issue, one issue that has not been adequately considered is the separation of the spent fuel rods from the commercial reactors from the high-level weapons production-related nuclear waste with respect to disposal of the materials. Currently, policy calls for all nuclear waste to be placed in long-term storage at a geologic storage site.
This research is directed at policy makers in the United States Congress. The thesis of this research is that much of the high-level nuclear waste should converted into plutonium oxide and then fabricated into mixed oxide fuel that can be used in the operation of commercial nuclear reactors. This approach would provide an economic use for the high-level nuclear waste, which would eventually be placed in long-term storage in the form of the less troublesome spent nuclear fuel rods.
In this research, nuclear waste issues related to the operation of both the Hanford Nuclear Reservation and the Savannah River Nuclear Site provide a focus for the investigation. These sites were selected because the nuclear waste problems at these sites are representative of the problem addressed by this research.
The findings of the research are presented in two major discussions. The first discussion provides background information on the problem, while the issues associated with the problem are addressed in the second discussion. A glossary of important terms is included at the end of the report.
Background on the problem is addressed in two contexts. First, the probl...