DOE to begin consent-based process for storing nuclear waste, officials say
- The United States continues to struggle with how it will deal with nuclear waste from power generation facilities, and now federal officials are considering a "consent-based" approach to bring communities on board before moving forward with locations.
- Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Ernest Moniz discussed the strategy in an interview with Platts, and indicated the federal government has yet to rule out the possibility of building support for fuel storage at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.
- In 2012 a Blue Ribbon Commission created by the Obama Administration concluded the Yucca Mountain site was infeasible for storage, nearly three decades after the federal government tapped it as the nation's nuclear waste repository.
The issue of how to handle nuclear waste has been one of many factors weighing down the industry. But as carbon-free sources of energy become increasingly important to the United States environmental goals, officials continue to search for a solution.
DOE Secretary Moniz told Platts that the agency is kicking off a "consent-based" process to find a location for spent fuel. Asked if such a location could include the highly-controversial Yucca Mountain facility, Moniz said the agency would need to see "support and openness [to the process] at the various political levels."
Opposition to Yucca Mountain from Nevada was one of the issues which made the facility so controversial. Recently, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), has renewed the push to license the facility as a permanent waste repository. But he faces opposition from Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who has long opposed use of Yucca Mountain by the state of Nevada.
Moniz told Platts that the agency "did not want to rule anything out," though he stressed that any location would "need communities and states as partners to get across the finish line."
Wherever the spent fuel storage facility winds up, the federal government's plan ultimately is for a larger facility that Platts says would be capable of storing waste from operating reactors in 10 years, and other spent fuel in 2048.
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