Tennessee Voices


The Global Nuclear Energy Partnership is the Bush administration and the U.S. Department of Energy’s deeply flawed plan to resuscitate nuclear power plants worldwide. They make it sound so easy. All it will take is billions of your (taxpayers’) money.

The proposal calls for the development of three new nuclear facilities to be sited at 11 possible locations in the U. S. Two potential sites, Oak Ridge and Paducah, are of local concern. The first new technology to be developed is a nuclear waste reprocessing plant. The second is a fast neutron reactor. The third is a nuclear fuels research facility. The total cost to reprocess the estimated lifetime discharges of current U.S. reactors by this process and to build enough fast reactors to use the reprocessed fuel is estimated to be $250 billion.

GNEP is big on vision but short on specifics, according to an Aug. 7, 2006, article in Nuclear Engineering International. It is being touted as “a bold new approach toward the global nuclear economy, aimed at attacking the dangers of proliferation and significantly reducing the nuclear waste
problem.” Clay Sell, deputy secretary of energy, claims that GNEP will “enhance the expansion of nuclear power worldwide.”

This project was originally conceived as a smaller-sized demonstration plant; however, the DOE has decided to skip that step and “fast track” the first two components of the experiment, moving directly to “commercial sized” before fully testing the process. Many unresolved questions remain concerning GNEP and nuclear power. Plans call for large quantities of nuclear waste to be transported to the facility from around the world. The waste would be ground up, liquefied, and separated into its components, including plutonium. Reprocessing is inherently expensive, dirty and dangerous. Just ask the citizens around West Valley, N.Y., where a plant that closed in 1972 has a mounting clean-up bill of more than $5 billion of your tax dollars. Plutonium, which is easily used to create nuclear weapons,
would be fuel for the fast reactor. This technology dramatically increases its quantity and utility as bomb material. Plus, we still have no long-term waste storage facility.

GNEP is a desperate, ill-conceived and deliberately misleading government-funded attempt to revive the fading nuclear power industry under the guise of addressing global warming, nuclear weapons proliferation and nuclear waste. Nuclear power’s high cost and risk make it untenable on the private capital market. Huge federal subsidies for nuclear power limit private and public investment in more cost-effective alternatives like cogeneration, renewables and efficiency.

DOE is seeking public comment on this proposal. Voice your concerns. You can e-mail comments to [email protected] or fax comments to 866-645-7807 by April 4, 2007. Be sure to copy your representative, senators and the president.