Nuclear, Waste Management & Decommissioning

DOE to ask Congress to expand nuclear waste repository

7 November 2008 — The Energy Department will tell Congress either to begin searching for a second permanent site to bury nuclear waste or approve a large expansion of the proposed waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.

Congress imposed a 77,000-ton capacity limit on the proposed Yucca Mountain facility. Within two years the amount of waste produced by the country’s 104 nuclear power plants plus defense waste will exceed 77,000 tons, according to DOE. Yucca Mountain is not expected to open before 2020.

Yucca Mountain faces an uncertain future. President-elect Barack Obama has said he doesn’t believe the site is suitable for keeping highly radioactive used reactor fuel up to a million years and believes other options should be explored. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has vowed to block the project.

If the limit is not removed, the report will urge Congress to give the department authority to begin looking for and evaluating a second nuclear waste repository elsewhere in the country.

Stories of interest:

EPA issues final Yucca Mountain radiation standards

Areva team wins Yucca Mountain nuclear waste contract