U.S. to offer 'black box' nuclear waste tech to other nations

U.S. to offer 'black box' nuclear waste tech to other nations

The U.S. Department of Energy’s nuclear security office is developing a project to help other countries handle nuclear waste, an effort to keep the United States competitive against global rivals in disposal technology, according to two sources familiar with the matter, Trend reports referring to Reuters.

The push comes as the United States struggles to find a solution for its own mounting nuclear waste inventories amid political opposition to a permanent dump site in Nevada, proposed decades ago, and concerns about the cost and security of recycling the waste back into fuel.

The National Nuclear Security Administration is considering helping other countries by using technologies that could involve techniques such as crushing, heating and sending a current through the waste to reduce its volume, the sources said.

The machinery would be encased in a “black box” the size of a shipping container and sent to other countries with nuclear energy programs, but be owned and operated by the United States, according to the sources, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.

“That way you could address a country’s concerns about spent fuel without transferring ownership of the technology to them,” said one of the sources.

The NNSA confirmed a project to help other countries with nuclear waste is underway but declined to provide details.

“We are in the conceptual phase of identifying approaches that could reduce the quantity of spent nuclear fuel without creating proliferation risks - a goal with significant economic and security benefits,” NNSA spokesman Dov Schwartz said.

The effort is being led by NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Brent Park, a nuclear physicist and former associate lab director at the Energy Department’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, appointed by President Donald Trump in April.

The NNSA declined a Reuters request for an interview with Park.

The sources did not name countries to which the service would be marketed, or where the waste would be stored after it is run through the equipment. But they said they were concerned the processes under consideration could increase the risk of dangerous materials reaching militant groups or nations unfriendly to the United States.

Former President Jimmy Carter banned nuclear waste reprocessing in 1977 because it chemically unlocks purer streams of uranium and plutonium, both of which could be used to make nuclear bombs.

The NNSA’s Schwartz said the plans under consideration do not involve reprocessing, but declined to say what technologies could be used.

The sources familiar with the NNSA’s deliberations said there are three basic ways that the physical volume of nuclear waste can be reduced, all of which are costly. At least one of the techniques poses a security threat, they said.

The first, called consolidation, reduces the volume of nuclear waste by taking apart spent fuel assemblies and crunching the waste down to two times smaller than the original volume – an approach that is considered costly but which doesn’t add much security risk.

A second technique involves heating radioactive pellets in spent fuel assemblies. The process, which gives off gases that must be contained, results in a waste product that has more environmental and health risks.

A third approach called pyroprocessing - developed at the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory - puts spent fuel in liquid metal and runs an electric current through it. That reduces volume, but concentrates plutonium and uranium – making it a potential proliferation risk.

The nuclear community is divided on whether pyroprocessing fits the definition of reprocessing.

The Trump administration has made promoting nuclear technology abroad a high priority, as the United States seeks to retain its edge as a leader in the industry, amid advancements by other nations like Russia, and France – both of which already offer customers services to take care of waste.

U.S. reactor builder Westinghouse, which emerged from bankruptcy in August and is owned by Brookfield Asset Management, hopes to sell nuclear power technology to countries from Saudi Arabia to India, but faces stiff competition from Russia’s state-owned Rosatom.

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry visited Saudi Arabia this month for talks on a nuclear energy deal with the kingdom, despite pushback from lawmakers concerned about the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

The United States is also struggling to support its own nuclear industry at home, with aging reactors shuttering, new projects elusive due to soaring costs, and an ongoing political stalemate over a permanent solution for mounting nuclear waste stockpiles.

The United States produces some 2,000 metric tons of nuclear waste each year, which is currently stored in pools or in steel casks at the nation’s roughly 60 commercial nuclear power plants across 30 states.

The federal government designated Nevada’s Yucca Mountain as the sole permanent U.S. nuclear waste repository decades ago to solve the problem, spending about $13 billion on the project, but it has never opened due to local opposition.

Thomas Countryman, the State Department’s top arms control officer during the Obama administration, said the government should make headway on the domestic problem before helping other countries.

“The primary issue on this front … is not that the U.S. can’t offer a low-volume option to potential buyers; rather it’s that the U.S. still has no option for disposing of its own spent fuel,” he said.

Edwin Lyman, a nuclear expert at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said NNSA should be less concerned about volume of waste and more concerned about the dangers that make it hard to store.

“It’s not the volume of the nuclear waste that’s the issue, but the radioactivity and heat it gives off as well as the fact that it remains dangerous for hundreds of thousands of years,” he said.

Personnel changes at AccessBank
Personnel changes at AccessBank
EY Azerbaijan invites small and medium sized companies to take part in ‘EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™’ 2020-2021 competition
EY Azerbaijan invites small and medium sized companies to take part in ‘EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™’ 2020-2021 competition
"Together we are POWER": ENGINET supports injured children in Ganja city (FOTO)
"Together we are POWER": ENGINET supports injured children in Ganja city (FOTO)
Loading Bars
Latest
More migrants relocated from Malta to EU countries
U.S. grants ByteDance new seven-day extension of TikTok sale order
82 bandits killed in Nigerian airstrikes
China, Kyrgyzstan to boost pragmatic cooperation
AzerGold CJSC talks plans for extraction of precious metals
Kazakhstan’s Almaty Power Stations JSC opens tender to buy compressors
Volume of funds allocated to fixed capital increases in Azerbaijan’s Nakhchivan
Retail trade turnover of Azerbaijan’s Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic drops
Azerbaijani MoD unveils footage depicting advancement of Azerbaijani armyuits to liberated Kalbajar region (VIDEO/PHOTO)
Resolution of France's Senate nothing more than piece of paper for Azerbaijan - top official
Resolution adopted by France's Senate has no legal force - MFA
IKEA investment arm in talks to buy city-centre retail property in big European cities
Kazinform and IRNA news agencies hold joint online conference
Iran to compensate for Ukraine plane crash according to int'l norms
Oil tanker hit by blast at Saudi terminal, Saudi Arabia confirms
National Bank of Georgia sells funds at foreign exchange auction to stabilize lari
First Turkish Trade House to open in Azerbaijan
Azerbaijani president signs law renaming Tsakuri village in Khojavend district
Azerbaijani president signs law renaming Gushchubaba village of Khojaly district into Baharli village
Azerbaijan to monitor fields in Kalbajar - Head of National Geological Exploration Service (Exclusive)
EU allocates macro-financial assistance to Georgia to tackle COVID-19
Turkmen FM gives speech at 13th Central Asia-Korea Cooperation Forum
Turkmenistan advocates cooperation in resolving regional and global environmental problems
Azerbaijan confirms 1,229 more COVID-19 recoveries
Iranian Energy Exchange announces products to be on sale November 28
Austria provides Uzbekistan with railway equipment
U.S. weekly jobless claims increase again
Produce in Georgia agency selects business ideas for micro and small entrepreneurship grant program
Kazakhstan eyes to fully put up produced LPG on electronic trading platforms in 2021
Uzbekistan’s food production to grow by end of 2020
Fergana region becomes main textile producer in Uzbekistan
More countries allow import of Uzbek-grown products
Volume of lending in Azerbaijan’s Nakhchivan in annual circulation greatly increases
Lari depreciation among possible reasons for fuel price increase in Georgia
Azerbaijan prepares projects to restore road infrastructure in liberated territories
Production of Iran’s Sefid Dasht Steel Company increases
Kazakhstan's Kuryk port boosts cargo handling, launches direct link to Iran
Turkmenistan has sufficient reserves to mitigate effects of pandemic - IMF
Volume of cargo transportation of Azerbaijan’s Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic drops
Kazakhstan to localize production of German agricultural machinery's popular models
Iran’s Bahar Azadi gold coin price continues to fall
Georgian-produced ski equipment to be exported to Europe
Kazakhstan decreases exports to Italy year-on-year
Volume of goods released from Iran’s customs checkpoints announced
Turkmengas opens tender for purchase of instrumentation
Investments in Iran’s Kerman Province increase
Azerbaijani refugees from Kalbajar visit Martyrs Alley (PHOTO)
FM talks on possible Azerbaijan-Armenia peace treaty to French Le Point
Azerbaijan shows new footage of Azerbaijani army units entering Kalbajar (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Armenia must answer for war crimes - Azerbaijani FM
Iran’s South Pars Gas Company opens tender to buy equipment
Uzbekistan eyes to maintain macroeconomic stability in 2021
Volume of loans issued by commercial banks down in Georgia
Cable TV operators ready for full deployment in liberated Azerbaijani territories
Activities of private sector in Iran can put end to economic problems - analyst
Georgia increases export of precious metal ores and concentrates
During Karabakh hostilities, Turkey responded to political pressure exerted on Azerbaijan - ambassador
Oil shrugs off U.S. inventory gain helped by vaccine hopes
Total volume of non-bank deposits in Georgian banking sector down
Return of Kalbajar region to Azerbaijan has not only important political but also economic significance - Georgian expert
Number of bank accounts registered in Nakhchivan over 10M2020 unveiled
Azerbaijan's gold company reveals profits
Two facilities in Iran’s oil sector to be put into operation
Baku residents hold rally celebrating Kalbajar's liberation (PHOTOS)
Georgia reveals data on persimmons and caraway seeds exports
Turkmenistan’s growth model relies on large-scale public investments - IMF
Four dead as migrant boat capsizes off Canary Islands, more missing
Kazakhstan’s joining UPOV could help improve lives, provide for economic dev't
SOCAR reveals volume of transshipment through Kulevi terminal
First VP Mehriban Aliyeva congratulates Azerbaijani people on liberation of Kalbajar (PHOTO)
Cargo handling at Kazakhstan's Aktau seaport decreases over 10M2020
Foreign trade turnover of Azerbaijan’s Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic increases
Iran reveals its COVID-19 data for November 25
Life insurance in Azerbaijan occupies about half of all insurance fees - association
SOCAR and LUKOIL eye expanding co-op
Baku Stock Exchange hosts auction for CBA's short-term notes
Concerns of some OSCE MG co-chairing countries don't matter - Erdogan
Kazakhstan boosts passenger cars manufacturing within 10M2020
Turkmen IT company to create first online platform of Union of Industrialists, Entrepreneurs
Azerbaijan to export medical masks to Russia and Germany
UNESCO to take part in protection of cultural, religious heritage in Karabakh
Iran says ready to return to Jan 20, 2017
Iran talks banking obstacles
Azerbaijan disclose data on investments in local renewable energy projects
Iran prevented release of German home appliances from customs
Kazakhstan’s oil producing company opens tender to buy spare equipment parts
Turkmen company provides domestic market with products made of polyethylene
Production of agricultural products increases in Azerbaijan’s Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic
Azerbaijani soldiers created conditions for Armenian population to leave village in Aghdam - president
Iran reveals data on new enterprises in free trade zones
Pashinyan, where did you sign the act of capitulation? - President Aliyev
When Pashinyan put forward seven conditions to us, I said: I have only one condition: get out of our land - President Aliyev
Azerbaijan's Nakhchivan reveals data on GDP
Amount of loans issued for agricultural machinery in Iran spikes
Those who want to accuse us of something should first of all look in mirror - President Aliyev
When we drove enemy out of Shusha, it destroyed water line feeding city - President Aliyev
Global LNG prices expected to strengthen in 2021
Armenians had made maps of “Nagorno-Karabakh Republic”, where are those maps? - President Aliyev
Kazakhstan's 10M2020 import of Turkish leather products declines
Gold, silver prices in Azerbaijan down
All news