Nuclear Waste: Washington has ignored a cheaper way to dispose of its plutonium – until now | The Center for Public Integrity
After DOE spends $3.7 billion on a troubled fuel plant, an alternative plan to bury the nuclear explosive suddenly gains new advocates
By Douglas Birch & R. Jeffrey Smith
The federal government has long ignored what scientists say is a viable alternative to a nuclear fuel factory in South Carolina that is billions of dollars over its budget.
The alternative – which experts say could eliminate the dangers posed
by excess U.S. plutonium — is now getting a new look by the Obama administration.
A substance made of “classified” materials may allow the plutonium to be encasing and buried at a fraction of the cost of converting it into nuclear fuel. (...)
Instead of burning the plutonium, the cheaper alternative mixes it with glass or ceramics and some other materials, so it can be buried deep underground.
The government – until now— has rejected that option. But after spending $3.7 billion on the still-incomplete fuel factory, the Obama administration is giving the immobilization alternative a closer look. And independent scientists who formerly supported the so-called Mixed-Oxide (MOX) plant are now arguing that the alternative, called “immobilization,” seems the wiser choice.