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Roles and effects of pyroprocessing for spent nuclear fuel management in South Korea


Republic of Korea (ROK) changed its spent nuclear fuel policy from the once-through usage and direct disposal to a total system approach that includes pyroprocessing, sodium-cooled fast reactors, and a two-tier geological repository to achieve a breakthrough for domestic deadlock situation and thus enable sustainable utilization of nuclear power, but caused disagreement in the bilateral negotiation with the United States (US) for the Nuclear Cooperation Agreement. Analysis has revealed that this shift is effective to make a breakthrough for domestic deadlock because it augments variety of technological options, with which more reversible decision-making process can be conducted to accommodate broad public needs. A trade-off has been explored first by deriving four engineering options from the ROK's system concept and then by comparing their performance from six viewpoints. The option including separation of high-heat emitting radionuclides by the electrolytic reduction process has been recommended. This option should be modified as exogenous and endogenous situations change in future. It is imperative for ROK to integrate a public-participatory decision-making process that works in concert with technology development. US can verify that ROK's motivation is not deviating from successful spent fuel management by checking if a transparent process with public participation is conducted. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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