Reprocessing: The Death of an American Technology

Early nuclear scientists knew how to get the most energy out of uranium: by recycling its fissionable waste products into new fuel. But because reprocessing involved the separation of plutonium, the specter of nuclear terrorism arose.

To avoid this risk, President Carter banned reprocessing of commercial reactor fuel in1977. In many ways, this action signaled the beginning of the end of the American nuclear power industry.

Twenty years after this historic decision, FRONTLINE asked scholars A. David Rossin and Spurgeon M. Keeny Jr. to evaluate the impact of Carter's policy.

Dr. Spurgeon M. Keeny, Jr. -- A strong supporter of the decision to end reprocessing

keenyKeeny is President and Executive Director of the Arms Control Association in Washington DC. He was a technical advisor under the Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon administrations, and senior staff member of the National Security Council from 1963 to 1969. He was Chairman of the Ford/MITRE panel of scholars whose 1977 report formed the basis for President Carter's policy on reprocessing.

Dr. A. David Rossin -- A critic of the decision to end reprocessing

rossin He is an Affiliated Scholar at the Center for International Security and Arms Control, Stanford University. He was former President of the American Nuclear Society and Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy (1986-87) and a Director of the Nuclear Safety Analysis Center at EPRI. He directed and conducted research on energy and environmental problems at Commonwealth Edison Company and Argonne National Laboratory

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