The International Panel on Fissile Materials has released a new report, Managing Spent Fuel from Nuclear Power Reactors: Experience and Lessons from Around the World (pdf copy). The report provides an overview of the policy and technical challenges faced internationally and learning over the past five decades in efforts at long-term storage and disposal of spent fuel from nuclear power reactors.
The spent fuel from nuclear power reactors, and the high-level wastes produced in the few countries where spent fuel is reprocessed to separate plutonium, must be stored in a manner that will minimize releases of the contained radioactivity into the environment for up to a million years. Safeguards also will be required to ensure that any contained plutonium is not diverted to nuclear-weapon use.
This report analyzes the efforts to manage and dispose of spent fuel by ten countries that account for more than 80 percent of the world's nuclear power capacity: Canada, Finland, France, Germany, South Korea, Japan, Russia, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. It also provides an overview of the technical issues relating to interim storage and transport of spent fuel, geological repositories, and the challenge of the associated international safeguards.