I watched McCain give a speech in Florida where he pushed his regular piece about the safety of nuclear power… and his complaint that Obama will consider it,but has a problem with spent fuel. And then he said that the French recycles their waste and “we always want to be like the French” and he laughed.
I felt the need to do a web search on France and spent nuclear rods. This is an example of what I found:
France recycles spent rods, but they still have a portion that cannot be recycled into fissile material. This stuff gets vitrified by mixing into molten glass, and gets stored. Now, in case you didn’t know, France still has overseas colonies. I don’t remember the details, but last I remember, they shipped their waste away to be stored at one of their colonies, which is a disgrace.
That was from a Digg poster named Berkana.
And this from a 2005 article in IPS News:
Most of that waste is of no further use, and is simply stored at the nuclear plant. Today there are an estimated 200,000 tonnes of this nuclear material being warehoused there.
But 30 to 40 percent of Eurodif’s depleted uranium — 4,500 to 6,000 tonnes annually — is sent to Russia, where it undergoes “enrichment” to turn it back into fuel for nuclear power plants. Just one-tenth of that uranium returns to France, and the rest remains in Russia, stored in inadequate conditions, say the environmental activists.
Our nuclear waste would likely be more… and where would we store it? Yucca Valley?
And this article in Scientific American brings up the problem with sending spent fuel to Russia and what is developing in Europe:
Those agreements specified, however, that the separated plutonium and any highly radioactive waste would later go back to the country of origin. Russia has recently adopted a similar policy. Hence, governments that send spent fuel abroad need eventually to arrange storage sites for the returning radioactive waste. That reality took a while to sink in, but it has now convinced almost all nations that bought foreign reprocessing services that they might as well store their spent fuel and save the reprocessing fee of about $1 million per ton (10 times the cost of dry storage casks).
So France, Russia and the U.K. have lost virtually all their foreign customers. One result is that the U.K. plans to shut down its reprocessing plants within the next few years, a move that comes with a $92-billion price tag for cleaning up the site of these facilities. In 2000 France considered the option of ending reprocessing in 2010 and concluded that doing so would reduce the cost of nuclear electricity. Making such a change, though, might also engender acrimonious debates about nuclear waste—the last thing the French nuclear establishment wants in a country that has seen relatively little antinuclear activism.
So there are still questions which, as Obama has aid, need to be answered.
McCain is ready to jump into a new and extreme danger to Americans for the sake of getting votes. I would feel better if he read the information that’s out there and then actually put his country first.