Science & Tech

New report highlights safe, secure method for managing spent nuclear fuel

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A joint Harvard University/University of Tokyo team of nuclear energy, nonproliferation, and waste management experts concludes in a new study that technologies are available to store spent nuclear fuel from hundreds of nuclear power plants around the world safely and securely for decades to come. To overcome political obstacles that have limited options for storage of spent nuclear fuel, the report urges a new, more democratic, more flexible, and more transparent approach to managing such material. The new study, Interim Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel: A Safe, Flexible, and Cost-Effective Near-Term Approach to Spent Fuel Management, addresses the technical, economic, safety, security, and political issues surrounding storage of spent nuclear fuel in both the United States and Japan. “If we don’t get storage of spent nuclear fuel right — including a process that puts an informed public in a position to ensure that its legitimate concerns about storage facilities are effectively addressed — we run serious environmental and energy-security risks,” said John P. Holdren, faculty chair of the Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and one of the study’s co-authors.