Full Title: Commercial Spent Nuclear Fuel: Congressional Action Needed to Break Impasse and Develop a Permanent Disposal Solution
Author(s): U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO)
Publisher(s): U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO)
Publication Date: September 23, 2021
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Commercial spent nuclear fuel is extremely dangerous if not managed properly. About 86,000 metric tons of this fuel is stored on-site at 75 operating or shutdown nuclear power plants in 33 states, an amount that grows by about 2,000 metric tons each year.
The Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 (NWPA), as amended, requires DOE to dispose of spent nuclear fuel and specifies that the only site that may be considered for the permanent disposal of commercial spent nuclear fuel is a geologic repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. However, in 2010, DOE terminated its efforts to license a repository at Yucca Mountain, and Congress stopped funding activities related to the site. Since then, policymakers have been at an impasse on how to meet the federal disposal obligation, with significant financial consequences for taxpayers.
This report examines actions that experts identified as necessary to develop a solution for spent nuclear fuel disposal. GAO reviewed DOE and other agency documents and interviewed 20 experts and 25 stakeholders from industry, nongovernmental organizations, and tribal and state groups.