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USA’s military and commercial nuclear wastes to be dealt with separately

Senators, Energy Department Float Nuclear Waste Proposals US News 25 Mar 15 A bipartisan group and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz are exploring alternatives to a permanent storage facility in Nevada.

Four Senators from both sides of the aisle promoted legislation Tuesday calling for the construction of interim disposal sites for nuclear waste, a potential alternative to decades of deadlock over a permanent facility at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.

text-wise-owl“Nuclear energy is a vital part of America’s energy portfolio, and for far too long, the American taxpayer has been on the hook for the federal government’s failure to implement an effective plan to handle the backend of the nuclear fuel cycle,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and chairwoman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said in a statement. “This legislation is an important step toward advancing the use of nuclear power in America.”

The bill does not mention Yucca Mountain, but it mirrors recommendations published in January 2012 by the Energy Department’s Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future, a panel convened by President Barack Obama in 2010 to develop a new strategy for disposing of spent nuclear fuel.

On Wednesday, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz returned to some of the report’s conclusions during remarks at a think tank in the nation’s capital, adding that the department would seek to create two kinds of nuclear repositories: one for spent fuel from civilian nuclear reactors and the other for defense projects.

While the Energy Department can begin searching for potential sites, it ultimately needs action from Congress to construct any disposal facilities.

“We will be able to move forward in a generic way … building this consent-based process,” Moniz said, referring to department efforts to engage local residents, businesses and lawmakers near potential storage sites. “But we cannot execute in the end without new authority.”

Citing both the report and an Obama administration strategy laid out in 2013, Moniz said the department would seek first to build a “pilot interim storage facility,” then a larger interim storage site, before finally constructing one or more “geological repositories,” or sites located in stable environments deep underground.

“There is international consensus that geological repositories represent the best known method for permanently disposing of used nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste without putting a burden of continued care on future generations,” Moniz said.

Looking toward the shorter term, he added that an “interim storage facility would also provide capability to receive used fuel in the unlikely event that an emergency situation arose at a nuclear power plant … A pilot interim site would also build trust among stakeholders.”……


March 27, 2015 - Posted by | USA, wastes

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