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[cdn-nucl-l] accelerator transmutation of waste
Report says that advances don't end need for radioactive waste site
Copyright © 1999 Nando Media
Copyright © 1999 Associated Press
WASHINGTON (November 2, 1999 8:35 p.m. EST http://www.nandotimes.com) -
According to an Energy Department report to Congress, developing and using a
new high-tech process to make some of the nation's radioactive waste less
dangerous would not eliminate the need for a national waste storage
Furthermore, it would take 117 years and $280 billion to complete the waste
processing, the agency estimated.
Known as accelerator transmutation of waste, or ATW, the high-tech process
"could reduce the potential long-term radiation doses from repository wastes
by a factor of about 10; however, a repository is still required," the
report issued on Monday said.
There has been some hope that ATW could provide an alternative to storing
large quantities of radioactive waste from nuclear weapons and power plants
in a controversial underground storage facility. One is planned for a site
deep inside Nevada's Yucca Mountain.
ATW would use molecular particle accelerators to change radioactive
materials - that normally would take thousands of years to stabilize under
normal circumstances - into substances that stabilize more quickly.
The report said it would take eight years and $2 billion for research and
development to perfect the technique. After that, it would cost $9 billion
and take 27 years for a demonstration project and another 90 years and $270
billion to use it on an anticipated 87,000 tons of spent commercial nuclear
fuel, the report said.
The process could probably not be used on radioactive waste from making
nuclear weapons, the report said, and also would generate its own highly
unstable waste byproducts.