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Deep repositories not necessary


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I can remember back in 2007, there was a city-wide town hall meeting at the Roswell convention center to discuss the possibility of having a nuclear waste recycling facility located about 40 miles east of Roswell.

The Department of Energy was looking for regional sites for radioactive storage with a friendly community toward nuclear energy. A local businessman applied and Roswell was selected, along with Carlsbad as possible sites in New Mexico. The Roswell community that showed up was dead set against having anything nuclear in their backyard. Carlsbad did not have that attitude.

The community leaders of Carlsbad and Hobbs formed an alliance in order to jointly submit an application for the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership program. The GNEP nuclear fuel recycling proposal proved very controversial in the United States and internationally, so President G.W. Bush slowly defunded it. However, the Hobbs and Carlsbad alliance had already chartered as the Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance and even bought a 1,000-acre parcel on the county line as a potential storage site 15 miles east of WIPP.

By 2009, GNEP was dead in the water between the U.S. and Europe. The U.S. Congress had to come up with another solution to store unused spent nuclear fuel rods from commercial nuclear power plants. Under law, the federal government was responsible for all nuclear waste.

Yucca Mountain already has a 5-mile test tunnel, and will eventually cost about $100 billion. It was supposed to be that answer, but has an on-again/off-again budget schedule.

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There is no need to have deep geological repositories to store nuclear radioactive material. Three technological advancements have happened over the last 60 years.

Radiation standards set back in the 1950s are no longer applicable and new higher standards have been identified based on knowledge learned after three nuclear accidents.

Waste storage canister technology has improved to withstand destruction and last as much as 300 years, maybe more, of sealed containment.

The spent nuclear fuel can now be used as fuel for the next generation nuclear reactors that have been designed to consume this fuel with little or no waste.

Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance has applied for a license to store spent nuclear fuel using these high-tech canisters.

Martin Kral

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