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Talk Thursday on plutonium reprocessing

By Roger Snodgrass

There are currently several nails in the coffin of a nuclear policy that has strongly favored commercial reprocessing and recycling of plutonium. Ivan Oelrich wants to make sure it doesn’t pop open again.

A recurring idea in the political tug-of-war between proponents and opponents of nuclear energy, nuclear reprocessing is intended to achieving a plutonium fuel cycle, and thereby provide a plentiful supply of nuclear fuel and a more easily-stored waste product.

Oelrich is the Acting President of the Federation of American Scientists (FAS). He will be speaking Thursday at a public meeting of the Los Alamos Committee on Arms Control and International Security.

In a recent telephone interview, Oelrich said that during the Bush administration, the president pushed the reprocessing idea, changing the name to plutonium “recycling,” but Congress gradually withdrew support.

“DOE wasn’t able to convince the Congress that they had a credible story,” said Oelrich

In the Obama administration, on the other hand, some members of Congress have become interested in reprocessing again, while the president is likely to remain opposed.

“I’m not willing to say it’s a bad idea, but it is a bad idea for the next 50 years or so,” Oelrich said.

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