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Why does a nuclear power plant have to refuel?

If nuclear waste is still radioactive, why does a nuclear power plant have to refuel?

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4 Responses to “Why does a nuclear power plant have to refuel?”

  1. old know all said :

    Because the fuel becomes spent and is no longer radioactive enough. Reprocessing involves extracting the radioactive material from the spent fuel and making it into new fuel rods. (And chucking some in the sea)

  2. Niel J said :

    The answer above was partially right. It isn’t radio active enough. The US does not reprocess its spent fuel rods. France does. It’s expensive, but they get 94% of the original fuel rods back in the power plants. They do not dump anything into the ocean. France buries the 6% waste, which is low grade radio activity, on the site of the power plant. You can look it up.

  3. lare said :

    the rods get contaminated with products that absorb neutrons which spoils the chain reaction. there are a number of ways to reclaim and reuse the rods, but recycle is just not the american way.

  4. GC said :

    Lare has provided the underlying answer. Uranium is a fuel and just like other fuels it needs to be replaced. The fact that it is mildly radioactive, and the combustion products rather more radioactive is an unrelated issue.

    To me it makes a great deal of sense to reprocess – uranium is, after all, a limited resource.


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