President Obama’s incoming secretary of energy physicist Steven Chu, faced lots of questions on nuclear power and coal at his Senate confirmation hearing on 13 January. Chu, a leading advocate of renewable energy, told members of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources that he supports expansion of the US nuclear power industry and believes that a solution to the nuclear waste storage standoff can be found. The US should consider eventually lifting the ban on the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel that was instituted during the Carter administration. “We’re in a different place and time from then,” said Chu, former director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). But given that nuclear fuel is expected to be plentiful for at least the next 10 years, he added there is no urgency to reprocess, and more research should be devoted to developing a reprocessing technology that is more resistant to proliferation...

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