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USA to establish a new “independent” Nuclear Waste Administration

text-wise-owlSenators Propose New Nuclear WastAgency By Juan Carlos Rodriguez Law360, New York (March 24, 2015,  — A bipartisan group of U.S. senators on Tuesday introduced legislation that would create a new agency to handle the disposal of spent nuclear fuel and establish a new working capital fund in the U.S. Treasury for nuclear waste projects.

Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said the Nuclear Waste Administration Act of 2015 would safeguard and permanently dispose of the nation’s stockpiles of spent nuclear fuel, which are currently accumulating at separate sites across the country.

Waste-Confidence-RuleThe act would establish the Nuclear Waste Administration, an independent agency to manage the country’s nuclear waste program in place of the U.S. Department of Energy. The agency would be headed by an administrator appointed by the president and subject to Senate confirmation, according to the senators.

Under the bill, the NWA would build a pilot storage facility to hold spent fuel from decommissioned nuclear power plants and emergency shipments from operating plants, and be responsible for building consolidated storage facilities for non-priority spent fuel for utilities or defense wastes for the DOE on a temporary basis.

The act would also require the NWA to establish siting processes for storage facilities and repositories and link those storage facilities and repositories. And the administrator would be authorized to begin siting a pilot storage facility for priority waste immediately, while not setting waste volume restrictions on storage.

In addition to the NWA, the act would create the Nuclear Waste Fund, a new working capital fund in the U.S. Treasury, into which the fees collected from the utilities would be deposited. The funds would be available to the administration without further appropriation. The senators said fees already collected remain in the Nuclear Waste Fund, where they will continue to be subject to appropriation…….
Also on Tuesday, Obama authorized the DOE to begin the process of developing a repository to be used for disposal of some DOE-managed high-level radioactive waste. In 1985, a decision was made to commingle defense waste from weapons production and civilian nuclear waste from energy production and dispose of them in the same repository, the DOE said in a statement.
And Cantwell noted the bill was guided by principles laid out by The Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future, which was formed by Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz at the request of President Barack Obama to conduct a comprehensive review of policies for managing the back end of the nuclear fuel cycle and recommend a new strategy.

“I appreciate my colleagues’ recognition that dealing with our nation’s defense waste — more than half of which exists at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington — is an important priority,” Cantwell, the Senate Energy Committee’s ranking member, said in a statement.

But the DOE said the U.S. is no longer generating defense high-level waste associated with weapons production, and the inventory and composition of defense high-level waste is finite, which means the department can use separate disposal pathways for some waste streams.

“In addition, some defense waste is less radioactive, cooler and easier to handle than commercial waste, which means a simpler design and potentially fewer licensing and transportation challenges for a defense repository. Separate disposal of defense high-level waste could allow greater flexibility in site selection — and that could help keep costs down,” the department said.


March 27, 2015 - Posted by | USA, wastes

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