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America’s paralysis on nuclear waste, as radioactive trash continues to accumulate.

San Onofre closed nuclear station – stranded waste containers


GAO urges Congress to tackle nuclear waste storage impasse

‘The ghost of Yucca still stalks the policy debate and … there hasn’t been enough sustained pressure to find solutions’
By TERI SFORZA | tsforza@scng.com | Orange County Register, October 17, 2021 Who’s to blame for the paralysis that strands millions of pounds of radioactive waste at reactor sites all over the nation, and will cost taxpayers some $40 billion — and perhaps a lot more?

Congress, the U.S. Government Accountability Office says. And Congress must fix it.

In a dispassionate but merciless examination of the string of follies that has put the federal government nearly a quarter-century behind accepting waste from commercial reactors like the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station — where 3.6 million pounds of waste must sit for years or possibly decades — the GAO chronicled the weeds that have choked the effort, then hacked through them to clear a path forward.

“Commercial spent nuclear fuel is extremely dangerous if not managed properly,” the report said. “About 86,000 metric tons of this fuel is stored on-site at 75 operating or shutdown nuclear power plants in 33 states, an amount that grows by about 2,000 metric tons each year.”

The radioisotopes produced in a reactor can remain hazardous from a few days to many thousands of years, the GAO said.

“The longer it takes the federal government to resolve the current impasse and develop a solution for the permanent disposal of commercial spent nuclear fuel, the greater the potential risk to the environment and public health, or of security incidents associated with temporary on-site storage,” the report said. “(T)he safety of long-term dry cask storage is unknown, and the risks, such as environmental and health risks, of on-site storage increase the longer the fuel is stored there.”

Attempted sabotage and theft of radioactive material are also potential security risks, the report said…………….

How to fix

Obama assembled a Blue Ribbon Commission that laid out a path forward in 2012, and it’s largely the path that the GAO urges lawmakers to embrace now. It recommends that Congress:

  • Amend the Nuclear Waste Policy Act to allow the DOE to implement a new, consent-based process for siting temporary storage and permanent geologic disposal facilities.
  • Restructure the Nuclear Waste Fund, which has about $43 billion in it to ensure reliable and sufficient funding.
  • Create an independent board or similar mechanism to provide political insulation for a nuclear waste disposal program, as well as continuity of leadership.
  • Direct DOE to develop a temporary waste management strategy that includes plans for the transportation, interim storage and permanent disposal of spent nuclear fuel.
  • It’s not as if officials don’t know what to do with nuclear waste. In 1957, the National Academy of Sciences concluded that disposal in a geologic formation was the safest way to isolate nuclear waste. Myriad studies in the decades since have reached the same conclusion…………………………..  https://www.ocregister.com/2021/10/17/gao-urges-congress-to-tackle-nuclear-waste-storage-impasse/

October 18, 2021 - Posted by | USA, wastes

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