The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has officially scrapped the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) program, a Bush administration initiative to promote nuclear technologies while reducing the impacts associated with nuclear fuel disposal and proliferation risks.

In a notice in the Federal Register last week, the DOE said it was canceling its intention to prepare an environmental impact statement for GNEP “because it is no longer pursuing domestic commercial reprocessing,” which was the primary focus of the prior administration’s domestic GNEP program.

“The Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009, provides $145 million for the continuation of research and development (R&D) on proliferation-resistant fuel cycles and waste management strategies,” it said. “As described in the President’s Fiscal Year 2010 budget request, the Department’s fuel cycle R&D’s focus is on ‘long-term, science-based R&D of technologies with the potential to produce beneficial changes to the manner in which the nuclear fuel cycle and nuclear waste is managed.’”

GNEP, which began as a proposal in 2006, had two aspects. Domestically, it was to encourage economic growth and recycle nuclear fuel to reduce waste and minimize proliferation. It also promoted international partnership to close the nuclear fuel cycle and had enlisted 25 member nations. That initiative had been controversial, however, because it was said to divide the world into fuel suppliers and user nations. It is unclear how the DOE plans to deal with the international component of the program.

Source: DOE, Federal Register