DOE unveils community-consent-based siting process for storing nuclear waste

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) introduced a consent-based siting process for future spent-nuclear-fuel and waste facilities in the U.S. this week.

Under Secretary for Science and Energy Franklin Orr said the plan is set to be developed in 2016 in an effort to address the need for more storage sites for spent nuclear fuel and waste, including weaponry. Nuclear warheads are replaced every 20 years to act as an ongoing deterrent to other countries with nuclear-warfare capabilities.

Orr said nuclear generation remains a key energy-generating method, with approximately 20 percent of U.S. electricity produced at nuclear plants. Currently, spent fuel and waste are stored on site at nuclear power plants. With the DOE strategy, a small interim facility and a large-scale storage facility would be established. The larger of the two would utilize geological repositories to ensure that radioactive waste material is permanently disposed of in a safe manner.  The consenting method would ensure that local communities are comfortable with housing such storage facilities. 

The smaller facility would be established before the larger one and would begin to store nuclear waste from decommissioned nuclear plants, with processes and measures fine-tuned to develop a system that meets current and future needs relating to the storage of nuclear fuel.

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