Nuclear Waste | U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Nuclear Waste

Wednesday, August 4, 2010 - 8:00pm

Objective

Support the final permitting, construction, and operation of a permanent repository for spent nuclear fuel at Yucca Mountain, Nevada.

Summary of the Issue

The Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 (NWPA) obligates the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to manage the disposal of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste from commercial power reactors and defense programs. In 2002, Congress overturned the objections of Nevada Governor Kenny Guinn and approved Yucca Mountain as the site for a national repository.

Yucca Mountain is the most studied piece of real estate in the world. Hundreds of scientific studies have shown Yucca Mountain to be a safe and suitable location for a repository. According to DOE reports, the Yucca Mountain repository is unlikely to release radiation into the outside world for at least 10,000 years. Its remote location, dry climate, and extremely deep water table greatly reduce the possibility of waste seepage. Although Yucca Mountain has long been considered the main site for permanent storage of the nation's growing nuclear waste material, for two decades it has faced substantial political debate impeding its final approval. Currently, spent nuclear fuel is stored in 131 temporary facilities in 39 states. This waste should be consolidated in a federal repository designed for long-term storage.

Under NWPA, the federal government has received commitments of more than $17 billion from utilities around the country to fund DOE construction of a repository. DOE has thus far failed to begin construction but still continues to collect $600 million annually from electricity consumers for this purpose.

With the final legislative hurdle cleared, DOE is now authorized to apply to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for a license to operate the Yucca Mountain repository. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce believes the NRC should grant DOE a license to operate the Yucca Mountain repository.

U.S. Chamber Strategy

  • Continue to educate the members of the Yucca Energy Solution, a coalition organized by the U.S. Chamber, to advocate for congressional approval of the Yucca Mountain repository site.
  • Continue to inform the news media and the public about the safety record of nuclear waste transportation.
  • Support complete funding of the Yucca Mountain budget and oppose efforts to undercut the repository licensing process.

Staff Contact Information

Environment, Technology & Regulatory Affairs Division
(202) 463-5533
environment@uschamber.com

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