Today at the National Journal's Energy Experts Blog, the magazine is taking a closer look at how the nation will have to confront the issue of long-term storage of used nuclear fuel:
What safety, environmental, and economic factors should Washington consider as it debates the future of its nuclear-waste policy? Should Yucca Mountain be revived, or should Congress stop debating that repository site once and for all? How does the uncertain future over spent fuel affect the nation's dependence on nuclear power, which provides the nation with 20 percent of its electricity?Marv Fertel, NEI's President and Chief Executive Office, has posted a response. Here's an excerpt:
The nuclear energy industry agrees with many of the common-sense recommendations in the Blue Ribbon Commission’s final report, which was developed after nearly two years of fact-finding, public interaction and intense study. In particular, three proposals should be given high priority:For more on the safe storage of used nuclear fuel, please visit our NEI.org.
- prompt efforts to develop one or more consolidated interim storage facilities at volunteer sites,
- assured access by program managers to revenues generated by payments and interest earned in the Nuclear Waste Fund,
- establish a quasi-federal organization dedicated solely to implementing the used fuel management program, with access to the Nuclear Waste Fund.
The recent ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia that the Department of Energy failed to justify continued payments by consumers of electricity from nuclear power plants into the Nuclear Waste Fund should also help to drive the dialog. While the court did not order DOE to suspend the fee payments, the court rejected DOE’s bases for continuing to collect the fees and ordered it to conduct a complete reassessment of this fee within six months. Considering DOE has yet to move one fuel assembly as it was required by law beginning in 1998, the industry sees no justification for further collection of funds until a functioning used fuel disposal program is in place.
Now, 30 years after Congress passed the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, the development of a long-term solution to managing used nuclear fuel is long overdue. It’s time for policymakers to reexamine the program and develop a new roadmap that will meet these obligations to consumers.