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Statement by DOE Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy Dennis Spurgeon

October 29, 2007 - 4:21pm


Response to the National Research Council's Review of DOE's Nuclear Energy Research and Development Program

"The National Research Council's report released today affirms the majority of the Department of Energy's (DOE) priorities for research and development for nuclear energy. I am especially pleased that the Committee agrees with the tremendous importance DOE places on the Nuclear Power 2010 program and its call for full funding.  I am also pleased with a fundamental conclusion of the report that DOE should pursue a closed fuel cycle, rejecting the minority opinion to the contrary."

"However, the report's findings related to Global Nuclear Energy Partnership or "GNEP" are based on faulty premises that are inconsistent with the fuel cycle research and development (R&D) program actually being implemented by DOE.  The report errantly assumes that DOE has pre-selected the separations technologies to be deployed and the scale of the facilities to be built.  A series of critical findings are based on these incorrect premises."

"Full consideration of all relevant materials including the President's Fiscal Year 2008 Budget Request, the GNEP Strategic Plan, GNEP Technology Development Plan, Funding Opportunities Announcement issued in May 2007, and the GNEP Statement of Principles demonstrates clearly that the Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative R&D program currently being conducted by DOE recognizes the complexity and time required to fully develop actinide recycle in fast reactors and is fully consistent with the Committee's recommendations.  Fast reactor recycle will take many decades to fully implement."

"Any near-term closing of the nuclear fuel cycle with commercial scale facilities will likely use separations technology that is similar to commercially proven processes - but does not separate pure plutonium - with recycle in current generation reactors."

"Furthermore, the Report's use of the term "GNEP" interchangeably with the Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative program is confusing and, as the Committee's Chairman has noted to me, in no way reflects criticism of the burgeoning international partnership."

"Through GNEP, we are taking a leadership role with 16 partner nations that share a common vision for need to expand nuclear energy for peaceful purposes worldwide in a safe and secure manner. This partnership agreed to a Statement of Principles that establishes the goals, amongst other things, of developing mechanisms to support infrastructure development as well as creation of reliable fuel services."

Media contact(s):

Megan Barnett, (202) 586-4940