Japan’s Atomic Energy Commission says it will cost twice as much to recycle nuclear fuel as it would to safely store spent fuel. Recycling in this case is the reprocessing into MOX fuel for running in reactors, a process that itself has been called into question. MOX critics have cited that the current fuel percentage and operation at reactors doesn’t effectively reduce the amount of plutonium involved and negatively impacts safety and reactor physics. On top of these higher recycling costs is the large amount of money involved in upgrading an aging reactor in order to run MOX. Millions have been spent replacing shrouds, other equipment and installing complex security systems just to possess the fuel.
MOX has been implicated by some as a contributing factor in the intensity and scope of the failures at unit 3 Fukushima Daiichi.
The UK has conceded their MOX facility is now useless and will be closed as Japan won’t be buying MOX fuel in the near future and the plant itself has been plagued by failures. The US has dumped $10 billion dollars of taxpayer money into a MOX plant boondoggle at Savannah River in South Carolina. The US currently has no power company lined up to buy MOX, Duke Energy experimented with it and pulled out of their involvement in the program. Duke found the fuel ran three times hotter than traditional fuel and ended the program over safety concerns.
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