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The United States: In Search of the Nuclear Oasis

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Abstract

The American approach to radioactive waste management can be explained by four geopolitical and institutional characteristics. The first and most obvious characteristic is the geographical scale of the country: the US is 38 times the size of Britain, and nine American states are larger than the UK in area. Moreover, the UK is far more densely populated than the US. California, the most populous state, has but half the UK’s population and the seven states with the smallest population can barely muster together the population of Greater London. Geography thus confers upon the US much greater opportunity for finding remote sites for radioactive waste disposal. It also imposes greater distances between the various stages in the nuclear fuel cycle, making transportation a significant issue.1 To take an extreme example, the Palo Verde nuclear power plant 50 miles west of Phoenix, Arizona, obtains uranium from New Mexico, which is converted to uranium hexafluoride in Illinois, sent to be enriched in Ohio, Kentucky or Tennessee, and thence to be fabricated into fuel rods in Connecticut before being shipped back to Arizona.2 This uranium would thereby travel over 4000 miles before the fuel rods are loaded in the nuclear reactor. Power from the plant is distributed to four states and spent fuel rods are stored pending transport to a deep repository whose location has yet to be determined.

Keywords

  • Radioactive Waste
  • Nuclear Waste
  • Spend Fuel
  • International Politics
  • Nuclear Regulatory Commission

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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© 1991 Andrew Blowers, David Lowry, Barry D. Solomon

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Blowers, A., Lowry, D., Solomon, B.D. (1991). The United States: In Search of the Nuclear Oasis. In: The International Politics of Nuclear Waste. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-349-21246-0_5

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