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OPINION | EDITORIAL: Big dream or pipe dream?

Big dream or pipe dream? March 9, 2023 at 4:04 a.m.

It is amazing what they can do nowadays. Whether "they" are doctors or "they" are engineers. Did you know you can undergo an entire hip replacement surgery and be up and walking an hour later? Have you seen the pictures from the Webb Space Telescope?

Now they tell us that they can recycle spent nuclear fuel.

Maybe this isn't a new thing. (What do we know?) But it certainly came as a surprise to some of us the other day when Jack Ladyman put his bill up before the Ledge.

Rep. Ladyman (R-Jonesboro) was talking about HB 1142. According to the story in the paper, the bill would "lay the groundwork" for the construction of a recycling facility for spent nuclear fuel. Then get more energy from the spent nuclear fuel. Which brings into question the meaning of "spent."

Don't get excited, either way, Gentle Reader. That is, don't get excited about a recycling plant doing wonders for the environment (that is, for all of us) and don't start worrying about NIMBY concerns. This thing is a long way from happening. The bill, it is said, would start allowing officials to plan for this thing. And you know how government planning goes. If this thing ever happens, our kids might one day see it.

But ya gotta start somewhere.

"If enacted," the story by Will Langhorne said, "the bill would allow state officials to develop plans, analyze potential construction sites, conduct outreach and conduct other work. By completing the planning, Arkansas could generate 6,200 jobs and tap into a $51 billion federal fund, Ladyman said."

Not being nuclear scientists, or any kind of scientists, we don't know what it takes to recycle spent nuclear rods. But it sounds so promising to the unlearned ear that it must be worth investigating.

"This is a problem that nobody is working on except us," Rep. Ladyman told the papers. "If nobody does anything, that spent fuel rod pile is going to continue to grow and that problem is going to get worse."

We are reminded of Harry Reid, once the majority leader of the U.S. Senate, who put the kibosh on the Yucca Mountain repository in Nevada--the state, not the Arkansas county. Of course, Sen. Reid was from the state of Nevada, so his obstruction was good local politics--for him. Unfortunately, it was terrible for national safety. The federal government spent $15 billion getting that place ready to take spent nuclear fuel, only to have Sen. Reid wreck the idea once he gained power in the Senate.

But instead of only storing the waste, why not make it into something usable? That is, recycle it?

Also from the story: "The nuclear recycling plant would be part of a research and development project intended to show the feasibility and commercial viability of reclaiming nuclear fuels. Ladyman said the project also would include the construction of a facility capable of using recycled fuel to generate power."

Amazing what they can do nowadays.

And it keeps getting amazing-er.

Print Headline: Who knew?


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