Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Nuclear Fuel Cycle Options: DOE Needs to Enhance Planning for Technology Assessment and Collaboration with Industry and Other Countries -- GAO

This Government Accountability Office Report (GAO-12-70 October 17, 2011)  finds that the (DOE) issued a research and development (R&D) plan to select nuclear fuel cycles and technologies, some of which reprocess spent fuel and recycle some nuclear material, such as plutonium. These fuel cycles may help reduce the generation of spent fuel and risks of nuclear proliferation and terrorism. GAO was asked to review (1) DOE's approach to selecting nuclear fuel cycles and technologies, (2) DOE's efforts to reduce proliferation and terrorism risks, and (3) selected countries' experiences in reprocessing and recycling spent fuel. GAO reviewed DOE's plan and met with officials from DOE, the nuclear industry, and France and the United Kingdom.

DOE's R&D plan relies on a systematic approach--that is, the use of scientific methods and engineering principles--to select and demonstrate nuclear fuel cycles and associated technologies. However, it does not explain the current readiness levels of the technologies associated with the fuel cycles and the estimated time and cost of further development; it also does not explain how DOE will collaborate with the nuclear industry and other countries experienced in nuclear R&D in achieving its goals."


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