The Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) is a proposal put forward by the Bush Administration to resurrect dangerous reprocessing and transmutation technologies for spent nuclear fuel. Under the plan, nations with nuclear power would supply and fuel nuclear reactors for nations that agree to forego the pursuit of nuclear technology. Once the fuel is used, supplying nations would remove it for eventual reprocessing. Portions would be used again as nuclear fuel.
During reprocessing, irradiated, or "spent," fuel is dissolved in acid so targeted ingredients can be chemically separated. It is inherently dangerous and results in intensely radioactive, toxic, thermally hot, and difficult to contain waste. In addition, reprocessing is the fundamental link between a nuclear reactor and a plutonium bomb, because it separates plutonium out from the spent fuel rod.
The United States Department of Energy (DOE) has proposed a pilot GNEP program to revive reprocessing domestically and demonstrate the feasibility of the international program. Domestic reprocessing was outlawed in 1977 by President Carter after India developed and tested a nuclear bomb from technology they received from the United States. Although the ban has since been lifted, the United States power industry has not resumed the practice, in large part because of the prohibitive costs. DOE requested $405 million for fiscal year 2008 to begin their pilot program.
For more information, see the documents and links in the sidebar. Past CCNS News Updates which discuss GNEP are listed below.
State of the Proposal
DOE is in the process of preparing a draft Programatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) that will analyze the potential risks of the GNEP proposal, as compared to alternatives. Once this document is released the public will have a second opportunity to comment, this time on the full proposal which has been laid out in the draft.
CCNS and the Embudo Valley Environmental Monitoring Group (EVEMG) submitted scoping comments for the GNEP proposal, click here to download a pdf of our comments, dated June 4, 2007.
In addition to traditional written comments, CCNS and EVEMG submitted a Mix CD with liner notes, click here to listen to our mix.