After 14 hearings and 15,000 comments, the Department of Energy has decided to pull the plug on any domestic involvement in the three-year-old Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP), which the U.S. initiated to focus on reprocessing spent commercial nuclear fuel.

In its April 15 posting of this news, Nuclear Engineering International quoted DOE Deputy Press Secretary Jen Stutsman as saying, “The Department has already decided not to continue the domestic GNEP program of the last administration. The long-term fuel cycle research and development program will continue but not the near-term deployment of recycling facilities or fast reactors. The international component of GNEP is under interagency review.”

GNEP currently has 25 partner nations. Though the program was started by the U.S., funding it has been a challenge, and opposition to its efforts has come from both pro- and anti-nuclear sides.

Savannah River National Laboratory, on the border of South Carolina and Georgia, hoped to be the site of a waste processing facility to be developed under GNEP. Local and regional news organizations, including the Augusta Chronicle, reported that there were mixed feelings about the decision, which would have meant jobs but also waste shipments for the area.

The Aiken Standard reported that DOE Secretary Stephen Chu will visit the Savannah River Site at an unspecified date.

For background on this issue, see “How to solve the used nuclear fuel storage problem” in the August 2008 issue of POWER.

Sources: Nuclear Engineering International, GNEP, Augusta Chronicle, Aiken Standard, POWER