Spent Fuel Disposal Debate Heats Up

October 25, 1996

Spent Fuel Disposal Debate Heats Up

The high-level radioactive waste disposal issue is expected to heat up long before the 1998 deadline for the federal government to take over waste from nuclear power plant owners.

Without an acceptable storage facility available, or even in sight, the government may have to pay nuclear power plants to continue to store their spent fuel until the Energy Department selects and builds a facility, according to wire reports.

Paying utilities is one of the few options available to the Energy Department after its decision this week to bow to an appeals court ruling that under a 1982 law, the government must take control of spent fuel from commercial power plants by February 1998.

The Energy Department is reviewing its options, but does not expect to have a dump ready before 2010, and that is only if tests on Yucca Mountain in Nevada prove the site is safe for burying radioactive waste for thousands of years. Not all of the 110 U.S. nuclear plants are expected to run out of storage space before 2010.

Once nuclear power plants run out of storage space for spent fuel in pools and move to dry casks, costs will be $34 million to $50 million for a unit that could hold 500 metric tons of uranium.

Nuclear plants have generated 32,000 metric tons of spent fuel over the last 40 years.

Reimbursing producers of the waste for their storage would probably entail crediting them for payments into the federal nuclear waste fund from 1998 onward.

But how the whole issue will be resolved depends on Congress next year. The Senate passed a bill in July calling for temporary storage, but the margin was not wide enough to override a veto promised by the President. Because of the veto threat, the House never voted on similar legislation, but the Republicans are expected to revive the bill early next year.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.