Los Angeles Times

Idaho National Lab's 'wonder fuel' is now radioactive waste that won't go away

In the early days of atomic energy, the federal government powered up an experimental reactor in Idaho with an ambitious goal: create a "wonder fuel" for the nation.

The reactor was one of the nation's first "breeder" reactors _ designed to make its own new plutonium fuel while it generated electricity, solving what scientists at the time thought was a looming shortage of uranium for power plants and nuclear weapons.

It went into operation in 1964 and kept the lights burning at the national laboratory for three decades.

But enthusiasm eventually waned for the breeder reactor program owing to safety concerns, high costs and an adequate supply of uranium.

Today, its legacy is 26 metric tons of highly radioactive waste. What to do

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