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Concerns Over New Calls for Nuclear Power

, February 01, 2010

President Obama and his administration are trying to win over Republicans and moderate Democrats on climate and energy legislation by signaling his support for nuclear energy plant production. However, the support for nuclear reactors has angered many liberals and environmentalists, who do not believe nuclear energy, in its current form, is safe.

One concern this raises at GAP is the potential for a resurrection for the Bush administration's proposal and support of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, or GNEP. In 2006, the Bush administration Department of Energy put forth a proposal for a GNEP, and international plan that sought to increase and promote the use of nuclear power in both the U.S. and abroad by offering foreign countries to opportunity to import their nuclear waste into the United States, at which point this “spent fuel” would be reprocessed further for American power uses.

With a long history of monitoring nuclear power and waste sites, and knowing the terrible turmoil that undeniably occurs with safety issues and nuclear waste, GAP teamed up with other groups to take a stand against this badly thought-out plan. In conjunction with other groups, GAP released two pivotal reports on the extensive problems with GNEP. Each report, Risky Appropriations: Gambling US Energy Policy on the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership and Radioactive Wastes and the Global Energy Nuclear Partnership point out the numerous, insurmountable flaws dealing with each program. These included:

  • The lack of any economic analysis of the costs and benefits of the GNEP plan.
  • None of the proposed GNEP technologies and processes existed in commercially viable applications. Few technologies that GNEP required had ever been shown to be viable in any large engineering-scale demonstration projects.
  • The proposed schedule for GNEP was not feasible – the technologies that would be required to implement GNEP successfully would take decades to develop if, in fact, they can be made technically and commercially viable at all.
  • GNEP would be an unreasonably expensive and slow option for addressing global climate change.
  • GNEP would lock the United States into decisions to deploy certain nuclear technologies and processes much before research and development phases are completed, demonstration projects are tested, and technologies are shown to be feasible.
  • GNEP will likely worsen the radioactive waste disposal problem and would make the United States the dumping ground for nuclear waste from the other participating nations.
  • In April 2009, the Department of Energy, amidst much resistance from the public-interest and environmental community, announced the cancellation of any domestic part of the GNEP plan.