As the federal government presses ahead to resume dumping high-level radioactive waste in Idaho, scientists at the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory are debating what to do with the hundreds of tons already there.
Many of the local nuclear scientists want to resume chemical reprocessing of the spent reactor fuel, creating new fuel with the remaining uranium or plutonium.
But critics of the nation’s nuclear program want it all blended into one highly radioactive waste form that would be more difficult to turn into bombs.
They want the government to glassify its plutonium and highly enriched uranium stockpiles or explore other storage or treatment options for spent fuel. Reprocessing leaves the material in a form that can possibly be used in bomb making, which sets a bad example when the U.S. cajoles other countries to stop reprocessing.