E&E Publishing
Mary O’Driscoll, Greenwire senior reporter
Jan 9, 2007

The Bush administration’s ambitious Global Nuclear Energy Partnership is “a goofy idea” as a development program, a prominent nuclear expert said today.

John Deutsch of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a former Energy Department official and co-author of a recent paper laying out the case for more nuclear power, told a National Academies of Science panel today that the multibillion-dollar fuel recycling-reprocessing program has benefits from the standpoint of an international program for nuclear suppliers but falls far short of being able to meet the nation’s and the world’s nuclear research-and-development needs.

The key to GNEP, Deutsch said, is large-scale deployment of nuclear power here and around the world by 2050. But the numbers of planned nuclear rectors necessary to meet the demand and the anticipated rising costs of uranium are not there, he added.

The more accurate timeline would be 2150, he said. “That’s a very, very, very, very, very long time in the future,” he added.

DOE instead should focus its nuclear R&D on making nuclear power plants safer, securing federal interim storage of nuclear waste, and making the proposed nuclear waste repository at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain “healthy” because it is now “very, very, very, very sick,” Deutsch said.

It is essential today to make nuclear power as affordable as possible, he said. But “all these fancy closed-cycle systems will add to the cost of nuclear power. It’s not a cost-saver.”

GNEP, Deutsch added, “is hugely expensive, hugely misdirected and hugely out of sync” with the needs of the industry and the nation.