For the editor:

Subject: Made in Canada Nuclear Waste Technology: Ajax Player

The idea is to extract plutonium from spent nuclear fuel and reuse it as new fuel in a small modular nuclear reactor (SMR).

Here in New Brunswick, we read the research data on the technology, called “pyroprocessing”. This has only been tried at one location before, the Idaho National Laboratory in the United States, where it was a financial fiasco.

At the Idaho lab, the cost of extracting plutonium from spent fuel has risen from an initial forecast of just under $18,000 (US) per kilogram to an average of $50,000 per kilogram in 2020 and $80,000 per kilogram in recent years. Due to the accompanying delays, the costs of mining and interim storage have also continued to rise.

At this rate, it would cost billions of dollars to prepare a single load of fuel for an SMR. SMRs rely heavily on public funding as private investors know of the lack of business case and customers of SMRs. A big question for us in New Brunswick is who is going to fuel the money pit?

I encourage anyone interested in this topic to read peer-reviewed research rather than nuclear industry sales and promotional material.

Susan O’Donnell,

University of New Brunswick