[ RadSafe ] Plutonium from Power Reactors

Jaro jaro-10kbq at sympatico.ca
Thu Apr 10 18:32:32 CDT 2008

Brennan, Mike (DOH) wrote:

" the U and PU in the spent fuel isn't decaying enough to make a difference,
but the fission
fragments are, so when eventually we do reprocess the first couple years
will be with easier to work with material."


Not necessarily:
Up to about 12% of the Pu in SNF is Pu241, which beta-decays to Am241 with a
half-life of 14.4y.
Am241 adds a lot of gamma activity to the fuel -- even after all the fission
products have been processed out.

I don't know if European or Japanese MOX users get their fuel from
relatively fresh or old SNF stocks, but its clear that MOX from old SNF
would be pretty tough to handle, requiring considerable shielding during
fuel loading operations.
Some reactor types are only set up to provide shielding for SNF during
unloading, not for fresh fuel loading.


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