Policy Briefs

May 2013

Nuclear Energy Industry Integrated Used Nuclear Fuel Management Strategy

The nuclear energy industry is committed to legislative reform to create a sustainable, integrated program for federal government management of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) high-level radioactive waste and commercial used nuclear fuel.

The nuclear energy industry, through NEI, is committed to working with both houses of Congress and the Administration on proposed legislation that addresses the federal government’s high-level radioactive waste management responsibilities.

The industry supports an integrated used nuclear fuel management strategy, consisting of six basic elements:
  • A new management and disposal organization dedicated solely to executing a high-level radioactive waste program and empowered with the authority and resources to succeed.
  • Access to the annual collections and corpus of the Nuclear Waste Fund for their intended purpose, without reliance on the annual appropriations process but with appropriate Congressional oversight.
  • Completion of the Yucca Mountain repository license review.  Nuclear electric consumers deserve to know whether Yucca Mountain is a safe site for the permanent disposal of high-level radioactive waste, as billions of dollars and years of independent scientific research suggest.
  • A consolidated storage facility for used nuclear fuel and DOE’s high-level radioactive waste in a willing host community and state, while making substantial progress toward developing the Yucca Mountain site and/or a second geologic repository.  A consolidated storage facility would enable the DOE or a new management entity to move used nuclear fuel from decommissioned plants and operating plants long before a repository or recycling facilities begin operating.  Used fuel from decommissioned commercial reactor sites without an operating reactor should have priority when shipping commercial used fuel to the storage facility.
  • Research, development and demonstration on improved or advanced fuel cycle technologies to close the nuclear fuel cycle, thereby potentially reducing the volume, heat and toxicity of byproducts placed in the repository, recognizing that a geologic repository will be required for all fuel cycles.  All funds for this RD&D must come from DOE’s budget and not the Nuclear Waste Fund.  In addition to RD&D, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) should develop a regulatory framework for the licensing of recycling facilities.
  • Supporting NRC’s promulgation of a temporary storage rule and an eventual legislative determination of waste confidence supported by a sustainable federal program founded on the elements above.
Approved by NEI Board of Directors May 2013