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Senate Hears Recommendations on Siting Nuclear Waste Facilities

Senate Environment & Public Works Subcmte. Witness Panel

Senate Environment & Public Works Subcmte. Witness Panel

Washington, DC
Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety held a hearing Thursday on "Recommendations For Siting of Nuclear Waste Storage Facilities" from the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future.

Senators heard from two panels, the first of which includes Blue Ribbon Commission co-chair Brent Scowcroft and Per F. Peterson, a member of the commission and chairman of the Department of Nuclear Engineering at the University of California at Berkeley, and whose research interests focus on problems in energy and environmental systems and high level nuclear waste processing.

A second panel featured stakeholders from government agencies and nuclear industries and research labs.

The commission, which issued its final report in January, is advocating for a consent-based approach to siting nuclear waste storage and management facilities, which deal with the nation's high-level nuclear waste and spent nuclear fuel from power plants.

The strategy outlined in the Commission report contains three crucial elements: a consent-based approach for siting nuclear waste facilities, a new organization to oversee nuclear waste, and a new structure for the Nuclear Waste Fund to ensure that fees paid into are used for waste disposal.

The Commission was specifically not tasked with rendering any opinion on the suitability of Yucca Mountain, proposing any specific site for a waste management facility, or offering any opinion on the role of nuclear power in the nation’s energy supply mix.

Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) chaired this subcommittee and Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) serves as the Ranking Member.

According to the report, 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.

Updated: Monday, June 25, 2012 at 12:05pm (ET)

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