Senate committee to discuss how to choose nuclear waste sites

Monday, July 22, 2013 12:12 PM
Last updated 7:12 PM
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Testimony will begin next week on legislation that would create a federal agency to manage and dispose of spent fuel from U.S. commercial nuclear plants.

The intent of the 2013 Nuclear Waste Administration Act is to implement recommendations from a blue-ribbon committee formed after the Obama administration halted a planned repository in Nevada’s Yucca Mountain.

The bill, which goes before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on July 30, outlines “consent-based” siting policies that require support of state and local governments before waste storage or processing facilities can be established.

The legislation recommends no specific locations for “consolidated interim storage” of spent nuclear fuel, but Savannah River Site in South Carolina has already been discussed as a possible venue.

In March, consultants hired by the SRS Community Reuse Organization, an economic development consortium, unveiled a $200,000 study concluding that the site’s H Canyon processing facilities and history of nuclear involvement make it suitable for such programs.

The SRS Citizens Advisory Board has become involved in similar discussions. Its waste management committee voted 12-10 for a position paper opposing the idea. That draft resolution is scheduled for a formal vote by the full board Tuesday.

Until a solution is found, spent fuel will continue to accumulate at commercial power plants, which now store about 75,000 tons of the material on-site in pools or above-ground casks.

According to the draft bill, the new agency would be asked to create a pilot storage facility to accept “priority waste” from non-operating reactors and later develop one or more interim storage facilities – and, eventually, one or more permanent disposal repositories.

According to the study commissioned by the SRS Community Reuse Organization, the South Carolina site could fulfill the needs of an interim storage program while bringing jobs and economic benefits.

“Consolidated storage would start with the spent nuclear fuel currently in South Caro­lina and Georgia and, if successful, could expand to include the remainder of the 20,000 metric tons of spent fuel in the southeastern U.S.,” the consultant’s report said. Sub­sequent phases could possibly accommodate spent fuel from Virginia and the Northeast.

In addition to creating an agency, the bill establishes a Working Capital Fund, into which fees collected from the utilities, about $765 million per year, would be deposited. That money would be available without further appropriation, while fees already collected, $28.2 billion, would remain in the Nuclear Waste Fund, where they will continue to be subject to appropriation.

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SCEagle Eye
SCEagle Eye 07/22/13 - 01:51 pm
bad idea: spent fuel to SRS

Moving spent fuel to an interim site makes no sense as it would increase costs and result in more worker radiation exposure. "Interim storage" could also remove any impetus to develop a geologic repository, meaning that the interim site would become the long-term storage site. Until a repository is available, spent fuel should be stored at the reactor sites in robust storage containers (which is already the norm at the majority of reactor sites). Federal legislation must focus on getting spent fuel out of pools and into on-site storage and not consolidation at a site like SRS.

GJD USNEF 07/22/13 - 11:20 pm
How to choose nuclear waste sites? Review the 30 YR study done

Let’s have another discussion. Let’s not “consider” the study we made at Yucca Mountain, instead let’s start over again. Let’s consider that it was ONLY politics that reversed Yucca Mountain and not Nevada’s public. Nevada’s US Nuclear Energy Foundation is working to educate the public to bring the Yucca issue to a public vote. That is the voice of the people. The DOE failed the “message” of Yucca to the public while the bureaucrats carried the negative media misleading Nevada’s citizens.

The answer as supported my most stakeholders is to remove the issue from the DOE and the NRC and the State of Nevada by establishing a Public-Private Partnership to build, manage and construct Yucca Mountain under government specification but management by the private entity. The public, entire industry and all stakeholders should support this proposal as it is the best answer to a government stalemate.

afadel 07/23/13 - 07:48 am
Video Recording of Comments Regarding Nuclear Waste Storage

I attended the meeting and recorded most of the comments section on my phone. Here's the YouTube video I made:

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