Allison Macfarlane speaks out on USA’s nuclear waste problem
New U.S. Nuclear Regulator Says Spent Fuel a Top Priority Bloomberg News, By Kasia Klimasinska August 14, 2012 The new chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said she plans to concentrate on the disposal of spent atomic fuel, an issue that is holding up decisions on power-plant licenses.
Allison Macfarlane, in her first news conference since taking over at the NRC on July 9, today also called on Congress and the White House to identify a permanent disposal site for spent fuel from the nation’s 104 nuclear reactors.
The NRC this month suspended final decisions on licenses for power
plants until it completes a reassessment of risks related to storing
spent atomic fuel. U.S. plants keep used fuel rods on site, in water
pools or dry casks, because of a lack of permanent storage. ….. The
U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington ruled on June 8 that the NRC’s
rules on permanent storage of nuclear waste failed to fully evaluate
risks and new standards must be drafted…..
Following the court ruling, the NRC put the final decisions on
licenses on hold, as it keeps reviewing applications including Entergy
Corp. (ETR)’s one to renew a license for the Indian Point power plant
north of New York City and Duke Energy Corp. (DUK)’s application for
construction and operation of reactors in Levy County, Florida.
Macfarlane, a geologist and a former environmental-science professor
at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, said the commission
is assessing a report by its staff on waste- disposal options and
promised to act promptly on the proposals. It is also researching an
expanded use of dry-cask storage, something the industry opposes. She
cited waste disposal, along with improved communication with the
public, safety, and geological issues, including earthquake risks, as
her top priorities.
“Geology clearly matters,” she said today. “If that wasn’t the main
lesson of Fukushima, I don’t know what was.”….
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