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September 2006


Nuclear recycling study weighs value of repository
Report demonstrates nuclear recycling should be integrated with long-term repository

Nuclear fuel recycling, as part of a portfolio strategy in which a large-scale integrated recycling plant complements a repository, could be attractive for solving the long-term used nuclear fuel management requirement of the United States nuclear power market, according to a Boston Consulting Group (BCG) study.

Conducted for Bethesda, Md.-based AREVA Inc., a United States nuclear vendor, BCG performed the first extensive study of proprietary operational and financial data from decades of AREVA’s nuclear recycling experience at the La Hague and Melox facilities.

“This study shows that current generation recycling technologies for used nuclear fuel are in an economic range that can be competitive,” said Dennis Spurgeon, assistant secretary for Nuclear Energy. “This economic benchmark is useful as we work on advanced recycling technologies that make better use of our energy resources and reduce the space and time needed to store nuclear waste.”

“As companies and governments decide how to navigate the opportunities presented by nuclear power technologies, BCG’s economic analysis of AREVA’s experience as one of the world’s leading reprocessing and recycling plant operators offers vital insight into the development of a comprehensive nuclear waste management strategy,” said Rick Peters, senior vice president and the head of BCG’s worldwide energy practice.

Using AREVA’s technical experience, BCG evaluated the costs of a large scale fuel treatment plant with enhanced processes integrated with recycled fuel manufacturing.

The study reports that recycling, as part of a portfolio strategy in which an integrated treatment and recycling plant complements a repository such as the planned Yucca Mountain repository, offers benefits including:

  • Increasing the capacity of Yucca Mountain by a factor of four by recycling newly discharged fuel within four years and cooling the vitrified high-level waste for 25 years at the recycling facility.
  • Providing a comparable cost of disposal while eliminating the need for a second repository during the 50 years of recycling plant operation.
  • Creating an effective long-term hedge on rising fuel costs by providing 20-25 percent of the annual nuclear fuel needs in the United States through recycled products.
  • Reducing used fuel inventory by removing the newly discharged, hotter fuel for recycling.
  • Eliminating the need for additional storage at reactor sites while recycling some of the older legacy fuel in dilution with new fuel.

For a copy of the study, visit

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