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Miss. Think Tank Presents Nuclear Fuel Storage Plan to Legislators

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 27 Aug 2013 07:44am | comments
Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Hess/MPB News

A Mississippi policy think-tank says the state should consider being a main center for reprocessing some of America's used nuclear fuel. Some worry the plan could turn Mississippi into America's nuclear waste dump.

The Mississippi Energy Institute went before a state senate committee yesterday to pitch the idea of opening a reprocessing plant to turn some of the country's 70 million metric tons of used nuclear fuel into something useful.

Patrick Sullivan with MEI says reprocessing the fuel could take what is currently waste and make it an economic opportunity for the state.

Sullivan says France has been safely re-purposing nuclear fuel for decades.

"When we use Fuel in nuclear power reactors, we use about 4% of the energy within that fuel assembly. So what this does is it takes it through a process and puts it back together so it can be sent back to power plants and be re-used," Sullivan said.

Sullivan insists that his agency is not recommending that Mississippi become a long term storage site for nuclear waste, similar proposals in the 1980's met massive negative public backlash.

However critics, like Louie Miller with the Sierra Club, say this plan is full of holes.

This included the danger associated with moving the spent fuel to Mississippi, preventing radioactive leaks, and a federal ban that currently prohibits reprocessing nuclear fuel.

"These are issues that have not been address and are really putting the cart before the horse in the sense that reprocessing nuclear waste is illegal in the United States. So why are we having this discussion right now?" Miller said.

 Governor Phil Bryant says he does not know the specifics of this proposal but welcomes the nuclear industry to the state.

 Grid lock on the federal level has left the US without a long term storage site for its nuclear waste leaving most power plants, including Mississippi's Grand Gulf Plant, with waste stored in casks on site.

 Still, Committee Chair Sen. John Horhn of Jackson worries about the public perception of bringing that waste to Mississippi.

 "That we would become a waste dumping ground is something that we need to be concerned about. but the fact that France has been doing it for 30 years and doing it safely is something that we need to consider," Horhn said.

The Energy institute is not recommending any specific sites in the state for a potential reprocessing plant.







Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Hess/MPB News



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