Overnight Energy & Environment — 'Forever chemical' suits face time crunch
Energy Department to seek feedback on voluntary nuclear waste facilities
The Department of Energy is seeking feedback on a proposed new process to allow communities to volunteer to store nuclear waste.
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy Kathryn Huff on Tuesday announced the U.S. would solicit information for potential locations for consent-based siting of waste depositories.
"We cannot continue to defer this challenge for future generations to figure out," Huff said on a press call Tuesday, noting that spent nuclear fuel is currently stored at reactor sites, which did not agree to long-term storage.
Asked if the department was concerned about lack of willingness in communities to host such a site, Huff said that the process would attempt to engage as many communities as possible "to maximize our chances of finding a community that is willing to take on this responsibility."
"Ultimately, we are very optimistic and hopeful," she added, citing successful use of the consent-based process in other nations.
The department will seek responses to the request for information through March 4, 2022.
"Hearing from and then working with communities interested in hosting one of these facilities is the best way to finally solve the nation's spent nuclear fuel management issues," Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said in a statement. "We know there are real benefits from jobs to new infrastructure that will drive interest in areas across the country. The public's input is central to identifying those locations to make this process as inclusive and effective as possible."
Until 2010, Yucca Mountain was designated as a nuclear waste disposal site, but never actually used for storage. The federal government has largely handled waste on a case-by-case basis since ending its use of the facility. In a September report, the Government Accountability Office called on Congress to address these issues by amending the Nuclear Waste Policy Act to allow the department to create a new siting process.