WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. Department of Energy announced today the formation of a blue ribbon commission to evaluate policy options for management of used fuel from commercial nuclear power plants and high-level radioactive waste from U.S. defense programs. Following is a statement from Marvin Fertel, Nuclear Energy Institute president and chief executive officer.
“The nuclear energy industry welcomes the creation of this blue ribbon panel of independent experts to provide counsel on the future direction of the nation’s policies regarding the nuclear fuel cycle. As we head deeper into an era when reliance on nuclear energy is increasing globally, this is the right time to objectively weigh the viable options pertaining to the nuclear fuel cycle, from the management of used fuel to the potential for reprocessing and recycling that could better utilize nuclear fuel as a strategic national resource. We encourage the Blue Ribbon Commission to move forward expeditiously in its charge.
“NEI is pleased that the Department of Energy acknowledges the federal government’s statutory and contractual obligations to remove used nuclear fuel from commercial nuclear energy plants. Electric utilities and users of nuclear-generated electricity have lived up to their obligations under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, supplying $30 billion since the early 1980s for this program.
“While the Blue Ribbon Commission performs its role, and prior to the identification of any new projects necessary for the federal government to fulfill its obligation under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, the industry continues to recommend that the Secretary of Energy suspend the requirement for consumer payments into the federal Nuclear Waste Fund. Electricity customers should no longer contribute more than $750 million in annual payments into a fund that has a $22 billion surplus and earns annual interest in excess of $1 billion.
“NEI looks forward to providing industry input to the commission in the months ahead as it gathers information, evaluates policy alternatives and formulates recommendations for Energy Secretary Chu and the Obama Administration. It is important that the federal government has a clearly defined program for the management of used nuclear fuel as the industry develops advanced reactors that will be needed to meet both our growing electricity demand and greenhouse gas reduction goals.”