Today, the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future (BRC) issued its final report. The commission, chartered in 2010, was tasked with establishing a new national nuclear waste management plan after the embattled proposal to store the nations high-level nuclear waste at the Yucca Mountain repository in Nevada was taken off the table.
The commission released its draft report this past July. The final report reflects the majority of the recommendations the commission released this past summer with one notable exception -the final report includes a recommendation to “prepare for the eventual large-scale transport of spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste to consolidated storage and disposal facilities when such facilities become available.
The United States currently has more than 65,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel stored at about 75 operating and shutdown reactor sites around the country. More than 2,000 tons are being produced each year. The DOE also is storing an additional 2,500 tons of spent fuel and large volumes of high-level nuclear waste, mostly from past weapons programs, at a handful of government-owned sites.
The recommendation to move spent nuclear fuel from current nuclear plants and defense facilities to an interim storage site causes unnecessary risks and has been hotly contested by nuclear waste watchdog organizations.
In fact, a group of 88 organization that operator around closed nuclear reactors and reprocessing sites sent a letter to Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu, yesterday urging him to reject proposals by the blue-ribbon panel for consolidated nuclear waste storage on the grounds that it would trigger increased, unsafe shipments of waste.
Instead, Public Citizen and its allies in the anti-nuclear community advocate for keeping spent fuel at reactor sites in hardened on-site storage. More than a 100 organizations have called for the establishment of hardened on-site storage (HOSS) as part of a list of principles for safeguarding nuclear waste.
It is highly disappointing that the commission has failed to acknowledge the reasonable and technically sound option to safeguard waste onsite in the absence of a viable long-term solution. Instead the commission is promoting a scheme that was discredited in the 1990s.