December 17, 2018
Key Nuclear Stakeholders Urge Funding for
Yucca Mountain Licensing Review and Consolidated Interim Storage
Four leading national organizations are calling for "urgent action" on funding of crucial nuclear waste management program activities related to Yucca Mountain licensing review and consolidated interim storage before the current Congress adjourns.
In a letter to Senate and House Energy and Water Appropriations leaders, the U.S. Nuclear Industry Council, Nuclear Waste Strategy Coalition, National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners and American Nuclear Society said "now is the time to act, and the post-election session of Congress provides a perfect opportunity. It is our hope that you will proactively pursue any legislative vehicle to kick-start funding for the currently zeroed-out nuclear waste disposal program."
According to the groups, "this national concern is not going away, and overall costs to taxpayers continue to climb. Every extra day of Congressional inaction increases the costs to American taxpayers. Now is the time for the Congress to engage on a bipartisan, bicameral solution that assures sustainable funding with access to the Nuclear Waste Fund to complete licensing and the opening of a national geologic repository in tandem with a path for the DOE to partner with the private sector to develop consolidated interim storage."
The organizations noted that the impasse over nuclear waste is costing all U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars. Based on the latest data, the government has paid $7.4 billion in damages resulting from lawsuits and settlements as of September 30, 2018, and the current government estimate of remaining federal liabilities is $28.1 billion, based on optimistic assumptions about when DOE will begin to remove fuel from reactor sites.
The stakeholders added: "It has been more than 35 years since the enactment of the NWPA; more than 20 years since the federal government failed to meet its statutory and contractual obligation to begin removing used fuel from nuclear energy reactor sites; more than 10 years since DOE submitted the Yucca Mountain license application to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for review; and more than eight years since the previous Administration defunded the repository program and vacated the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management. As a result of this prolonged inaction, U.S. commercial spent fuel inventories now exceed 80,000 metric tons at 98 operating reactors, 15 shutdown sites and the Morris independent spent fuel storage site in Illinois."
Nuclear Waste Fund receipts total nearly $50 billion, including fees collected from U.S. electric consumers per the NWPA and interest accumulating at a rate of approximately $1.5 billion per year.
A copy of the letter can be found, HERE.