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DOE touts interim storage option for spent nuclear fuel

Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013 11:47 AM
Last updated 10:00 PM
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The national dilemma over the fate of spent nuclear fuel could be resolved with interim storage, followed by a carefully planned “geologic repository,” according to a new report issued by U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu.


“The Administration supports the development of a pilot interim storage facility with an initial focus on accepting used nuclear fuel from shut-down reactor sites,” Chu said, in an Energy Department response to recommendations from a Blue Ribbon Committee empaneled to explore new strategies.

The nation’s spent fuel inventory – more than 75,000 tons – was to be buried in a deep repository in Nevada’s Yucca Mountain until that project was halted by the Obama administration. That material remains stored at the nation’s 104 commercial power reactors.

A key difference between future and past disposal efforts involves a greater reliance on community sentiment in areas vetted for nuclear waste storage or spent fuel disposal.

“In practical terms, this means encouraging communities to volunteer to be considered to host a nuclear waste management facility while also allowing for the waste management organization to approach communities that it believes can meet the siting requirements,” Chu said, noting that such facilities would bring an economic benefit to those areas.

Although Chu’s report does not mention specific locations, Savannah River Site in South Carolina has been mentioned among areas that could be considered for a pilot facility to demonstrate interim storage capabilities.

Jim Giusti, a Department of Energy spokesman at the site, said there is no behind-the-scenes plan or proposal to involve SRS.

“We’re not pushing to become an interim storage site, but we’re going to be part of any discussion that comes up simply because we are 310 square miles of land with security and nuclear expertise,” he said. “I don’t think the department can look at things like this but not include us.”

If any proposal emerged in the future, he added, the enhanced attention to community sentiment would increase transparency of the process.

Chu wrote that the administration supports a waste management system with an initial pilot interim storage facility, followed by a larger, consolidated interim facility – possibly co-located with the pilot project.

Eventually, the goal would be to create a permanent geologic repository for the disposal of used nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste, such as the vitrified defense waste processed and stored at SRS.

Preliminary site investigations for a geologic repository could be initiated within 10 years, the report said.

“The Administration’s goal is to have a repository sited by 2026; the site characterized, and the repository designed and licensed by 2042; and the repository constructed and its operations started by 2048.”

LEGISLATIVE GOALS FOR NEXT 10 YEARS

• Active engagement in a broad, national, consent-based process to site pilot and full-scale interim storage facilities, and site and characterize a geologic repository;

• Siting, design, licensing, and commencement of operations at a pilot-scale storage facility with an initial focus on accepting used nuclear fuel from shut-down reactor sites.;

• Significant progress on siting and licensing of a larger consolidated interim storage facility capable of providing system flexibility and an opportunity for more substantial progress in reducing government liabilities;

• Development of transportation capabilities (personnel, processes, equipment) to begin movement of fuel from shut-down reactors;

• Reformation of the funding approach in ways that preserve the necessary role for ongoing discretionary appropriations and also provide additional funds as necessary, whether from reclassified fees or from mandatory appropriation from the NWF or both; and

• Establishment of a new organization to run the program, the structure and positioning of which balance greater autonomy with the need for continued Executive and Legislative branch oversight.

Source: U.S. Department of Energy

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Little Lamb
56859
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Little Lamb 01/16/13 - 02:33 pm
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Poster Child

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu is the perfect poster child for the Peter Principle. He was promoted to a position where he was incompetent. Unfortunately, President Obama was too obtuse to notice and Obama tapped him to be Energy Department Secretary — a position that demanded even more technical and managerial competence than Chu's previous position. Chu is in over his head even deeper than before.

Riverman1
120936
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Riverman1 01/16/13 - 07:06 pm
2
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Yucca Mt. by default has been

Yucca Mt. by default has been my phrase to describe what is going to happen to SRS. A permanent facility won't be built until 2048. Give me a break, we won't have the money to move the stuff. We are going to be stuck with enough radioactivity to light us up so brightly we'll be visible from Mars.

SCEagle Eye
993
Points
SCEagle Eye 01/16/13 - 07:45 pm
1
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Yucca SRS not so easy

The "Yucca by default" option, which may be hard for special interests to pull off, will be backed by those aiming to make a buck off the tax payers who don't realize that they are being scammed. As usual, it's all about who will profit from their version of big government. But folks in Aiken/Augusta won't be so easily led down the path of opening their arms to become the nation's de facto nuclear waste dump.

Riverman1
120936
Points
Riverman1 01/17/13 - 11:14 am
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That line about sites being

That line about sites being chosen that are friendly to the concept due to jobs and so on lends itself to SRS. Watch out.

CameronRobertson
22
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CameronRobertson 01/19/14 - 11:27 pm
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Instead of spending money on

Instead of spending money on making more storage casks and promoting the benefits of having nuclear waste stored in your neighbourhood, the focus should be on what to do with this waste. They are storing it for decades because they don’t know. They recycle it in other countries so what is stopping America from doing the same over there instead of hiding it away as if it is trash?

MelBrandle
8
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MelBrandle 03/25/14 - 02:46 am
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I entirely agree with

I entirely agree with @CameronRoberts. Honestly, what good is it to continue holding all this nuclear waste in storage somewhere if nothing is actually going to be DONE about it?

MelBrandle
8
Points
MelBrandle 03/26/14 - 12:13 am
0
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I entirely agree with

I entirely agree with @CameronRoberts. Honestly, what good is it to continue holding all this nuclear waste in storage somewhere if nothing is actually going to be DONE about it?

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