A Multinational Solution to the Problem of Nuclear Waste?

Some countries are considering the possibility of a regional, rather than national, solution to spent fuel management. In the Asian Pacific area especially, cooperative arrangements for nuclear waste storage are under consideration. One preliminary project that has been proposed is a regional, interim, above ground storage facility that would house about 10,000 metric tons of spent fuel for 100 years. The facility could be used by Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and China if they so chose.

Pangea Resources International, an Australian-based consortium of companies, has made nuclear waste headlines in recent years with another, unrelated proposal. Pangea seeks to build an international high-level waste repository in a sparsely settled area of Australia’s Outback. The company contends that a central facility for the disposal of spent fuel would aid in nuclear nonproliferation and international security. Supporters of the project believe a global repository would provide a much-needed service to smaller countries that do not have large land resources. The proposal, however, has come up against the opposition of Australians, who do not use nuclear power and have no need for high-level waste disposal.

While there are no concrete plans to embark on an international repository, the idea is being ever more intently scrutinized as many come to view the nuclear waste dilemma as a problem that needs a broader solution than each country can provide on its own.