Recycling Nuclear Waste

American Physical Society Special Session on Nuclear Reprocessing, Nuclear Proliferation, and Terrorism (15 April 2007)
Coauthors: William H. Hannum and George S. Stanford

In the public mind, the foremost reservation about nuclear power is, “What can we do with the waste?” Fortunately there is an answer: We can use the worrisome, very long-lived components as fuel in the right kind of reactors, and then the rest becomes manageable. Will this lead to proliferation of nuclear weapons or to an increase in the threat of nuclear terrorism? Not necessarily. Prudent recycle of nuclear waste will actually reduce these threats while also reducing the time that nuclear waste must be sequestered to a few hundred years instead of thousands.