The Politics of Reprocessing and Enrichment
DOI link for The Politics of Reprocessing and Enrichment
The Politics of Reprocessing and Enrichment book
This chapter analyses how a set of policies in the field of reprocessing and enrichment, proclaimed from 1973 onwards, added to the demand for natural uranium. The military heritage gave the US a technological lead in all phases of uranium processing. Only in the late 1970s has the complete dominance of US public institutions in this field started to break up. Reprocessing of spent fuel elements to extract the remaining uranium and the plutonium formed through the fission process can provide for almost one-third of the fuel needs of light water reactors. Though the technology has been developed, and reprocessing is claimed to be economical, very little spent fuel has been recycled so far. In 1971 and 1972, while the US enrichment plants were heavily under-utilised, increasing concern was expressed about the adequacy of enrichment capacity in the late 1970s and 1980s.