Why GNEP can't jump to the future

April 23, 2007

WASHINGTON D.C.--April 23rd 2007 -- Congress is now considering whether to approve or zero out the $405 million that President Bush is proposing to spend in fiscal year 2008 on the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP)--a program aimed at rendering plutonium inert in nuclear weapons but still useful in nuclear power plants.

Nuclear experts at the National Academy of Sciences have long questioned the practicability of the technologies GNEP plans to employ. Currently, the Government Accounting Office is now reviewing the program. This, however, leaves legislators with an information gap as they struggle to decide whether to fully fund the plan, eliminate it altogether, or redirect some of its funding to the many successful energy programs whose budgets President Bush is proposing to gut in FY 2008. In particular, major questions have been raised about the magnitude and costs of radioactive wastes stemming from the GNEP program.

To help legislators and the American public bridge this information gap, the Institute for Policy Studies will release a rigorous study of GNEP on April 23rd. Directed by Robert Alvarez, Senior Policy Advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Energy from 1993 to 1999, the report concludes that the program is likely to squander billions in taxpayer dollars on an unproven reprocessing technology that will generate unprecedented and unmanageable amounts of highly radioactive wastes without plausible disposition paths.

The potentially deadly flaws documented in Alvarez's study include:

Alvarez's study concludes that the Energy Department "lacks a credible plan for management and disposal of radioactive wastes stemming from the GNEP program, particularly regarding waste volumes, site specific impacts, regulatory requirements and life-cycle costs."

Or as Alvarez has put it more bluntly in conversation, "You can't just park some of the most highly radioactive wastes in the world at a landfill and assume that by so doing you have kept them safely removed from humans for the next 2.3 million years."
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For copies of the report or an interview with Robert Alvarez, call Denise Hughes at (917) 549-2621 or Alex Raksin at (323) 301-8205.

On April 23rd at 2 p.m. Eastern, IPS will also host a press conference call and simultaneous web cast featuring Alvarez as well as Tom Carpenter of the Government Accountability Project (GAP) and Brent Blackwelder from Friends of the Earth (FOE). To join the telephone press conference, calll Denise Hughes at 917-549-2621-- Please RSVP to be included in the call and simultaneous web presentation. To dial in direct in the USA call: 888 343 7268--Ask for the GNEP call outside the USA, dial: 415 537 1924 --Ask for the GNEP call.

Institute for Policy Studies

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