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Why DOE Shouldn’t Split Issue of Radioactive Waste Management

Dr. Everett Redmond
The following is a guest post by Dr. Everett Redmond, NEI's Senior Director, Policy Development.

Yesterday the Department of Energy released its “Assessment of Disposal Options for DOE-Managed High-Level Radioactive Waste and Spent Nuclear Fuel.” This report is in response to a recommendation made by the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future (BRC). The BRC had recommended that the Administration conduct a review of the current policy to dispose of defense and commercial high level radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel in a single repository or repositories.

The DOE report states: “Specifically, this report recommends that the DOE begin implementation of a phased, adaptive, and consent-based strategy with development of a separate mined repository for some DOE-managed HLW and cooler DOE-managed SNF, potentially including some portion of the inventory of naval SNF. This report notes that, in addition to early development of a separate repository for cooler DOE-managed HLW and SNF, effective implementation of a strategy for management and disposal of all HLW and SNF would also include a focused research, development, and demonstration program addressing technologies relevant to deep borehole disposal of smaller DOE-managed waste forms and the disposal of large DOE-managed waste packages with high thermal loads in mined repositories.”

Yucca Mountain
NEI and the industry are committed to the development of a viable program for the long-term management and disposal of high-level radioactive waste from our nation’s defense program and commercial used nuclear fuel. The DOE must begin to meet its obligations to the commercial industry and the communities and states where DOE facilities are located. It is the industry position that the disposal pathways and the obligations for managing both DOE high-level waste and commercial used nuclear fuel should be addressed simultaneously, not sequentially as the recommendations in the report seem to suggest. On behalf of nuclear energy producers and suppliers we urge Congress to fund, and the Administration to continue, the review of the Yucca Mountain repository license application. It is in the best interest of this nation that the Federal Government begins to meet its legal obligations as soon as possible and to establish a viable program for the long-term management and disposal of commercial used nuclear fuel and DOE high-level radioactive waste.

Please follow Dr Redmond on his Twitter feed, @EverettRedmond.

Comments

Steve Nesbit said…
I agree. The DOE report indicates they want to put commercial spent fuel in the back of the disposal line. That step is both unnecessary and unfair. Electricity consumers around the country have paid the government billions of dollars for disposal and gotten nothing in return. There is a perfectly good repository at Yucca Mountain that can take both DOE waste and commercial waste. DOE's problem is not reprioritizing the order of disposal. They just need to get on with the job.

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