Brydges, Doug

I just reviewed a NWMO background report (pdf) on the Status of Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing, Partitioning and Transmutation (Dec 2003) by David P. Jackson, McMaster University. His last summary paragraph on page 37, points out that "there is no purely technical obstacle to domestic reprocessing" of spent nuclear fuel from CANDU reactors in Canada. I knew that Canadian reactors only used the nuclear fuel once and then stored the bundles at the reactor sites while we all wait for our federal government to make the most appropriate decision on a long-term solution.

But, I was surprised to learn that Canada has not developed its own capacity to reprocess the nuclear fuel waste to get more cycles out of it and reduce its toxicity and volume, while other countries such as the U.K, France and Russia have been doing it for many years.

It is most unlikely that the general public will accept and approve of moving and disposing of the waste to disposal, storage or management facilities in other locations - certainly not moving it north to bury in the great Shield. Not in the next 100 years anyway.

I believe the majority of Canadians would want to see the volume and toxicity of existing waste reduced, and the creation of new waste significantly reduced or stopped altogether.

Perhaps it is time to develop solutions around reprocessing, partitioning and/or transmutation technologies here in Canada, as well as a solution for permanent management of remaining wastes.

I believe Canada has been sitting still for too long on this issue. I understand the need to include the public in the process of finding an acceptable solution, but we're taking far too long to get to the end result.

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