US Inches Closer To Breaking Russian Monopoly On Rare And Necessary Fuel

"The Putin government's control over a special nuclear fuel has rattled the West's atomic industry. New deals show the U.S. is finally trying to catch up."

"At the dawn of the atomic age, the United States mined, enriched and split its own uranium in what ultimately became the world’s largest and most self-reliant fleet of nuclear reactors. As fission fell out of favor in the 1980s, the country began importing more fuel for its reactors. When Washington made a deal with Russia in the 1990s to buy uranium harvested from disassembling the Soviet bombs once aimed at Americans, the domestic industry couldn’t compete, and collapsed.

Three decades later, the U.S. and its allies are scrambling to revive their declining nuclear sectors in a bid to replace planet-heating fossil fuels and, in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine, cut back on imports of Russian natural gas and oil. A new generation of atomic startups are seeking to commercialize types of reactors never before brought to market, and lawmakers from both parties in Congress say they’re ready to help speed up the effort.

If reversing nuclear decline and wooing skeptics in the public who still fear improbable accidents like Fukushima more than the certain but slow-rolling catastrophe of climate change isn’t hard enough, those companies are running into a major problem. There’s only one vendor in the whole world that sells the concentrated form of uranium fuel many of these so-called “advanced” reactors need."

Alexander C. Kaufman reports for HuffPost August 28, 2023.

Source: HuffPost, 08/29/2023