Term paper Recycling of Nuclear Waste in France and other Countries

It is known that most countries of the European Union and the United States have chosen to rely on fossil energy in order to meet their energy needs. However, France stands in contrast to these methods and uses nuclear energy to provide “about 39% of total energy and over 70% of electricity”ť (Davis, 2007, p.1). The changes in energy policy began during the oil crises of the 1970s when high oil prices made the French government to find and develop new strategies. This alternative strategy helped to adopt a sustainable energy policy in which nuclear energy is a primary energy source in the country’s energy sector. In addition, it is known that this policy formed the appropriate safety regulations, effective waste management strategies, Many research organizations have “shaped the complex nuclear fuel cycle in France”ť (Davis, 2007, p.1). Today France can be regarded as an example for other countries around the world that pursue clean energy and sustainability in energy policy. The French Nuclear Safety Authority is focused on providing control over the main nuclear facilities of the country, including nuclear reactors, waste treatment plants, radioactive waste storage facilities, and others. Waste management strategy in France is based on setting up effective waste management systems. Today only France and the U.K. have implemented the policy of reprocessing spent nuclear fuel as “profit making commercial enterprise”ť (Choppin & Khankhasaev, 2009,  p. 36). The reprocessing plants in France and the U.K. use the Purex process and vitrify high-level wastes.

In other countries, reprocessing of nuclear waste is performed indigenously. For example, Russia reprocesses spent nuclear fuel for two purposes: to recover plutonium for weapons production and to use it in power reactor fuel recycle. Russia, China, and other countries implement the Purex process. In India, fuel recycling program is focused on the development of the fuel cycle that is “based on thorium in addition to uranium as the basic feed material”ť (Choppin & Khankhasaev, 2009, p. 37). Japan’s fuel recycling program is aimed to reduce the country’s dependence on energy resources.


            In conclusion, it is necessary to say that nuclear waste has posed a number of difficult issues to solve. The U.S. strategy is based on the premise that today nuclear waste can be disposed of safely. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Department of Energy have developed a number of regulations to protect people and environment from radiation. As France relies on the use of nuclear power in order to satisfy the needs for electricity, it reprocesses its spent nuclear fuel to recycle uranium and plutonium. This policy helps to achieve energy self-sufficiency.

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