China's Spent Nuclear Fuel Management: Current Practices and Future Strategies

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Zhou, Yun
Although China’s nuclear power industry is relatively young and the management of its spent nuclear fuel is not yet a concern, China’s commitment to nuclear energy and its rapid pace of development require detailed analyses of its future spent fuel management policies. The purpose of this study is to provide an overview of China’s fuel cycle program and its reprocessing policy, and to suggest strategies for managing its future fuel cycle program. The study is broken into four sections. The first reviews China’s current nuclear fuel cycle program and facilities. The second discusses China’s current spent fuel management methods and the storage capability of China’s 13 operational nuclear power plants. The third estimates China’s total cumulated spent fuel, its required spent fuel storage from present day until 2035, when China expects its first commercialized fast neutron reactors to be operational, and its likely demand for uranium resources. The fourth examines several spent fuel management scenarios for the present period up until 2035; the financial cost and proliferation risk of each scenario is evaluated. The study concludes that China can and should maintain a reprocessing operation to meet its R&D activities before its fast reactor program is further developed.