Nuclear, Waste Management & Decommissioning

Nuclear waste storage bill introduced in the Senate

Four U.S. senators introduced draft legislation that intends to establish an agency to oversee a nuclear waste program and create a process to site nuclear waste facilities.

The Nuclear Waste Administration Act of 2013 discussion draft is intended to implement the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future to create the federal agency to manage the nuclear waste program in place of the U.S. Department of Energy. The agency would be headed by a single administrator, appointed by the President and with the advice and consent of the Senate. The bill also establishes an oversight board to oversee the agency’s administration of the program.

The bill would also direct the new agency to build a pilot spent fuel storage facility to store spent fuel from decommissioned nuclear plants and emergency shipments from operating plants. The agency should also build one or more consolidated storage facilities to store non-priority spent fuel for utilities or defense wastes for DOE temporarily and establish a new siting process. The bill does not set waste volumes restrictions on storage.

Lastly, the bill would establish a new Working Capital Fund in the Treasury Department, into which fees collected from utilities, about $765 million annually, would be deposited. About $28.2 billion of fees already collected as of January 2013 will remain in the Nuclear Waste Fund.

“This is an important step. This bipartisan legislation recognizes the urgency for Congress to reform federal used fuel policy,” said Alex Flint, senior vice president for governmental affairs with the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI). “Whether the Congress decides to pursue consolidated storage or Yucca Mountain or, as the industry recommends, both, there needs to be attention focused to this issue.”

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