Aiken, South Carolina is a gentile southern city with amazing golf courses, public gardens, a superior school system and many other fine amenities that make it an excellent place to live and raise a family.
It is also a place where a group of business organizations have gotten together to convince the federal government that the Savannah River Site (SRS), a national laboratory near the town, would make an excellent place for a nuclear fuel recycling plant. In other words, these leaders, people who live and work in a very comfortable American city have shown that they would like the opportunity to take on the challenging task of efficiently recycling used nuclear fuel.
Here is an excerpt from an article supplied by the Knight-Ridder news wire describing the opportunity and the coalition of business groups:
According to plans by the U.S. Department of Energy, communities across the country would compete for a new reprocessing demonstration plant. If that plant works, the government would build a permanent complex somewhere in the United States. That complex would include a reprocessing plant and possibly a nuclear fuel plant to supply new commercial reactors.
Business groups signing off on the notice Friday include the Aiken/Edgefield Economic Development Partnership, the Southern Carolina Alliance, Citizens for Nuclear Technology Awareness and area chambers of commerce. The cities of Aiken and North Augusta also back the effort. The notice was filed by the Washington Savannah River Co., the site’s chief contractor. Mal McKibben, who directs Citizens for Nuclear Technology Awareness, estimated SRS could one day land 2,000 to 4,000 jobs from reprocessing facilities. Other estimates place the jobs total in the hundreds.
The effort is certainly worth while – the 40,000 tons of used nuclear fuel that currently reside in either deep pools of water or in dry storage containers at the same reactor sites where the fuel was first used are an incredible energy resource. Only 3-5% of the initial potential energy of the heavy metals has been produced, the rest remains to be harvested.
SRS is also well suited for the endeavor – it has a well educated and experienced work force, a large, secure site, and a significant quantity of underutilized infrastructure. Good luck, Aiken, I hope you succeed in your efforts.