The Secretary of Energy's Blue Ribbon Commission is moving toward its report. Yesterday, the entire Commission meet in open session to hear the reports of its subcommittees. The Commission, unfortunately, lived down to my expectations.
During Yesterday's meeting, Reactor & Fuel Cycle Technology Subcommittee punted on first down. The Subcommittee's goals had been toThe Subcommittee clearly failed to do this. Instead it recommended,
“to evaluate existing fuel cycle technologies and R&D programs in terms of multiple criteria. Criteria for evaluation should include cost, safety, resource utilization and sustainability, and the promotion of nuclear nonproliferation and counter- terrorism goals.”
Advances in nuclear reactor and fuel cycle technologies may hold promise for achieving substantial benefits in terms of broadly held safety, economic, environmental, and energy security challenges. To capture these benefits, the United States should continue to pursue a program of nuclear energy RD&D both to improve the safety and performance of existing technologies and to develop new technologies that could offer significant advantages in terms of the multiple evaluation criteria listed in our charter.Clearly, the Subcommittee was not motivated by
No currently available or reasonably foreseeable reactor and fuel cycle technologies including current or potential reprocess or recycle technologies have the potential to fundamentally alter the waste management challenge this nation confronts over at least the next several decade
Put another way – we do not believe that new technology developments in the next three to four decades will change the underlying need for an integrated strategy that combines safe, interim storage of spent nuclear fuel with expeditious progress toward siting and licensing a permanent disposal facility.
the compelling urge of man to explore and to discover, the thrust of curiosity that leads men to try to go where no one has gone before.But then I did not expect the Blue Ribbon Commission to offer us a vision of the future.
In order to have a vision, we must be willing to take bod action, to undergo risk, and indeed to risk failure. Unfortunately a fear of failure will most assuredly lead us to the very failure that we fear the most. The Subcommittee recommends a business as usual approach to a society that faces a crisis,Fortunately we have not yet heard the last word on the nuclear future with the Subcommittee's report. We will have other chances.
The U.S. government should provide stable, long- term RD&D (research, development, and demonstration) support for advanced reactor and fuel cycle technologies that have the potential to offer substantial benefits relative to currently available technologies in terms of safety, cost, resource utilization and sustainability, the promotion of nuclear nonproliferation and counter-terrorism goals, and waste storage and disposal needs.